This week from Charleston
The Minimum Wage Bill passed the House this week. If this bill becomes law, the minimum wage will go up on Jan. 1, 2017 and again the following. Berkeley County Delegate Jason Barrett was the lead sponsor of the bill. As a small business owner, Delegate Barrett brings a unique perspective to minimum wage issues. As I wrote about before, the bill is significant in that it will affect about 100,000 workers in West Virginia. Studies have shown the additional wages are going to be spent in the local economies across the state. I think this is a win-win for West Virginia.
The Internet Service Provider Accountability Act has garnered a lot of attention over the last week. I have heard from a lot of constituents about it, and all are very supportive of it. The chairman of the Judiciary committee has indicated that he wants to have it on the agenda. The only thing that will prevent it from moving forward in the House is if we determine that the Federal Communications Commission regulations may preempt it. I’m working with staff to see how far we can go without stepping on the FCC’s jurisdiction. The people need to get some accountability from our local ISP’s.
This week saw the introduction of the Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act, a bill I have been working on since the chemical spill. This is a bipartisan bill with support from throughout the state. Through this bill, I am attempting to create a framework to adopt the US Chemical Safety Board’s recommendations for West Virginia. It needs a lot of work, but it’s a start. I am happy that Delegate Tiffany Lawrence is also a co-sponsor.
Another bill that I am a co-sponsor on, banning Zombie debt collection, was considered in committee this week. Zombie debt is really old alleged debt that keeps being revived. The debt is so old (typically more than ten years old) that all of the statute of limitations has passed. Recently, some unsavory organizations have been purchasing batches of old alleged debt to start collecting on it. A typical zombie debt collection is a call to a consumer with a claim that they owe old debt. The original debt may or may not have been valid. They will call and call and call. If you refuse and tell the debt collector not to call, the alleged debt will be sold again and a new collector will start calling. That’s why it’s called zombie debt: it should be dead, but it keeps coming back to life no matter what. We need to end that practice.