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Abraham: Justice will sign most but will veto some bills before Wednesday night deadline

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By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has until midnight Wednesday to make a decision on the bills passed by state lawmakers during the 60-day regular legislative session. His office received final enrolled copies of 105 bills in the last two business days.

“We received 59 bills on Friday and we got 46 bills yesterday and we’re still waiting one, so that’s a big chunk right there,” Justice administration Chief Counsel Brian Abraham told MetroNews Tuesday. “We expect we’re going to have a good number to go out today (Tuesday) and all bills will complete the governor’s endorsement by tomorrow. We will make our deadline.”

Abraham predicted there will be some vetoes.

“We found quite a few that had technical errors that were insurmountable. There are some others the governor has had under consideration,” Abraham said.

Many of the bills the governor has yet to sign were passed during the last few days of the session including HB 2001 that would phase out the state income tax on Social Security benefits; SB 1, which would create a ‘last dollar in’ program to pay for the tuition of community and technical college students. There’s been a lot of discussion centered on SB 622 that would raise campaign finance contribution limits.

Lobbying efforts have been underway for a number of the bills, Abraham said.

“We get a large influx of letters from the conclusion of the session until now from various organizations, some encouraging the signing of bills, some encouraging the vetoes of bills. We do get some phone calls from special interests,” he said.

The governor isn’t caught off guard by the bills that reach his desk. His legal staff has been able to review copies of the bills from the legislature’s website, Abraham said.

“That process has been going on behind the scenes with our attorneys and myself in reviewing those with the governor. The final step oftentimes he’s already approved them before we get them in hand,” Abraham said.

But the final copies still have to be reviewed and a process followed before the bill can become law.

“There’s multiple copies. We have to do letters to go along with them. All copies have to be signed and delivered to the various houses. It’s a lot of actual manual work in the end trying to sign them,” according to Abraham.

Justice did sign a number of bills on Monday including SB 238, which increases penalties for passing a stopped school bus; SB 398, that deals with the compensation of senior status judges and HB 2452, that creates a state Cybersecurity Office.