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House Democrats outline priorities for session

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House Democrats outline priorities for session
By Carrie Hodousek, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Democrats in the House of Delegates say they promise to protect West Virginia workers, to protect public education, to fight forced pooling and to fix the Public Employees Insurance Agency during the upcoming regular legislative session.

The House Democratic Caucus met Tuesday at the state Capitol to discuss their priorities with reporters.

House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-Harrison, 48) said during a press conference fixing PEIA starts with raising the tobacco tax.

“An increase in the tobacco tax solves several problems and creates a win-win for the state of West Virginia,” Miley said.

He said the increase would be to fully fund PEIA, to fund substance abuse programs and “cause and allow our state to have a healthy citizen rate.”

Also, Miley said they will oppose and fight against any wage cuts.

“At a time when our state is hurting, I can’t imagine why anyone would consider going down the road of cutting our construction wages in this state and obviously that begins with the prevailing wage, but also includes right to work as well,” he said.

The Caucus said they expect to hear of a charter school proposal this session because they believe teachers are the ones who should be making decisions about how students should be educated, not corporations and politicians.

“That’s exactly what charter schools do,” Miley said. “They take that decision making away from the local level and put that decision in the hands of corporate interests and politicians and we feel that’s wrong,” he said.

‘Corporate give-aways’ will be another topic of discussion, Miley said. They are planning on opposing any cuts of corporate taxes, benefits and private property rights.

“We feel like the citizens of West Virginia should be protected, not the out-of-state corporations of West Virginia,” he said. For that reason, Miley said they expect there to be a forced pooling bill presented in the state Legislature, in which they will fight against.

The 2016 Regular Legislative Session begins today.