West Virginia legislation that would limit the governor’s spending authority during a state of emergency is making its way through the General Assembly.
House Bill 2014, sponsored by Del. Shannon Kimes, R-Wood, seeks to establish legislative oversight of emergency spending provided to the state by the federal government. It would cap the governor’s spending ability to $150 million until the legislature appropriates the money.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jim Justice has had significant authority over federal emergency spending without consulting the legislature. Although many lawmakers asked the governor to call a special session before he made funding decisions, he spent about $1.25 billion without doing so.
If federal money spent by the governor for an emergency that is not funded in the budget approved by the legislature and the legislature is not in session, the governor would be required to submit a report to the president of the senate, the house speaker, the chairs of the finance committees and the legislative auditor.