CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Delegate Dean Jeffries, who is co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, today said legislation meant to expedite the use of contractors for disaster recovery projects will be addressed in the 2020 regular legislative session.
This pledge comes after the House of Delegates adjourned the First Extraordinary Session Tuesday without passing House Bill 209. That bill had been proposed by Gov. Jim Justice and would have allowed the state to bid out contracts for disaster mitigation and recovery on an open-ended basis.
“After the Flooding Committee heard testimony Tuesday that said all contracts for housing construction through the RISE recovery program would be let by the end of August regardless of the passage of this bill, we decided it would be best to wait to address this issue in the next regular legislative session,” said Chairman Jeffries, R-Kanawha. “While we do believe this bill identifies an important issue that needs corrected, we would prefer to have more time to study it and perfect the proper solution.”
Chairman Jeffries emphasized that passing House Bill 209 would not have significantly expedited construction of any homes under the RISE disaster recovery program created following the June 2016 floods, since the contracts are set to be let next month. It would mostly have affected the state’s ability to issue contracts for future disaster recovery activities.
“Given some of the past concerns with aspects of the 2016 flood response, it’s incumbent upon us as legislators to act diligently in a way that helps restore public trust in this process,” Chairman Jeffries said. “We are encouraged by the progress being made and we look forward to continued efforts to move the recovery process forward. I believe if we continue to work further with the administration and have an open line of communication on this issue, we can address it in a manner that allays everyone’s concerns.”
The next regular session of the 84th Legislature begins Jan. 8, 2020.