February 23, 2014

Who knows?

With a little bit less than two weeks to go at the WV legislature, things could break either way. This could be a good year for kids and working families...or not. At this point, several things are still in play but could be lost in the fog and confusion of the last chaotic days.

The minimum wage passed the house and needs to be reconciled with the senate version. Fast food types, McDonald's' in particular, are trying to gut the bill. I hope the senate holds the line. Worst case would be changing definitions so that the increase would be meaningless.

The Future Fund passed the senate unanimously. It faces an uncertain future in the house due to rivalry and budget concerns, even though the FF wouldn't kick in for a couple of years, when the state's budget woes will have leveled off.

Speaking of the budget, it's not clear at this point whether proposed cuts to domestic violence and early childhood programs will be reversed.

The physical activity bill, Move to Improve, is headed to the house and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is awaiting action in the senate.

Two old bills that I've supported in the past but just about gave up on showed unexpected life. One is a reform to unemployment insurance which allows companies to reduce hours instead of jobs and lets workers draw benefits for the lost wages. Another is a voluntary retirement account bill which would allow workers who don't have pensions to build assets towards retirement. Both of these miraculously rose from the grave and made it through the house.

One thing's for sure. The next 13 days are gonna be crazy.

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