Senate Bill No. 1 was up for vote in the House of Delegates on Thursday, February 4, 2015. It passed the Senate very early in the Legislative Session. The legislation is right-to-work legislation that will simply dismantle unions and hurt workers.
Delegate Justin Marcum (D – Mingo- 20th) gave a passionate floor speech against the Bill. He used a study from West Virginia University that stated the legislation, if passed, would drive down middle class wages and injure workplace safety. Additionally, Marcum discussed the harmful effects of the Bill in regards to West Virginia workers. He added comments regarding how other states who have passed similar Bills have experienced less jobs, lower wages, and more workplace injuries.
“Why are we already taking up Senate Bill 1? Why are we rushing to take up this Bill when we still have House Bills that haven’t moved? Why are we rushing to judgment on this Bill?” I can tell you why, stated Marcum. “C-O-L-E, not C-O-A-L, is the reason we are pushing this Bill through the legislature so fast,” stated Marcum. Marcum was referencing Bill Cole who was the main sponsor of the Bill.
“We have Bills in this House that could put coal miners back to work but yet this new majority has refused to run those Bills. The West Virginia Intrastate Coal Act would help coal companies lower costs and put coal miners back to work,” added Marcum. The Bill would give tax breaks to companies who use West Virginia coal in West Virginia. “We must quit importing coal for our power plants when we have coal here that our coal miners can mine,” stated Delegate Marcum. “Let’s run the Bill and quit worrying so much about lowering wages and hurting working West Virginians.” Marcum said West Virginia imports nearly 40% of the coal used in it’s power plants.
The legislation went through the legislative process without any studies showing it would bring jobs to West Virginia. “We requested a jobs impact statement in order to see if this would bring jobs to the state and that request was denied by the House Speaker. We also requested to hear from employers showing that support the Bill but yet none were present. On the other hand, the only employers we heard from were against the Bill stating it would allow immigrant workers to enter into West Virginia as well as out-of-state contractors,” stated Delegate Marcum. “I want statistics showing this Bill would help bring jobs here but we were denied that request by the House leadership.”
Right to Work legislation was passed in the Senate strictly along party lines (18-16). Senators Kirkendoll and Stollings voted against the Bill, along with all the southern delegates. Senators Bill Cole (sponsor of the Bill) and Mark Maynard voted for the Bill.
Many House Republicans voted with the House Democrats against the Bill. Those same Republicans stood up to their leadership team and spoke against the Bill. Many of the same Republicans criticized the House leadership for their intimidation tactics encouraging their members to vote for the Bill.
Right to Work legislation passed the House after many hours of debate on a vote total of 55-46. The Bill now heads to Governor Tomblin’s desk for either approval or veto.
Delegate Justin Marcum represents the 20th District in the West Virginia Legislature which encompasses parts of Mingo and Logan counties.