The Legislature reached “Cross-over” Day, as it is called, this week.  As I said last week, it is the last day we can discuss House bills in the House of Delegates. Committee meetings and floor sessions are lasting longer as more and more bills are discussed nearing the final day of session.

I am glad to say that several issues I have been passionately advocating to create jobs have been introduced, discussed and passed by the House of Delegates.  I am here in Charleston fighting hard to create better opportunities and make our economic outlook even better.  Jobs are always my focus while here in Charleston and I will always make sure to keep my eye on creating a better future for all West Virginians.

Toward that end, several bills passed this week which I would like to discuss in regard to economic opportunities for West Virginians.

First, the House passed House Bill 4168, otherwise known as the “Buy American Act”.  This bill would provide that government contracts subject to the bidding process must require that the goods or equipment used or supplied under the contract must be manufactured in the United States of America.   The threshold amounts for the contracts subject to the bidding requirements were changed to an amount estimated to exceed $500,000 with the state or any of its subdivisions. The contract itself would also need to specify and require that any item of goods or equipment used or supplied in the performance of the contract or any subcontract be manufactured in the United States.

Waivers for this provision may be granted by the agency soliciting the bids in four specific circumstances. First, the specified goods and equipment are not produced in the United States in sufficient quantity or otherwise are not reasonably available to meet contract requirements. Second, the item of goods or equipment manufactured in the United States exceeds the cost of comparable foreign-made goods or equipment by more than 10 percent of the cost of that item.  Third, the specified goods or equipment are necessary for the protection and safety of the public or property, and no comparable American-made products are available, including but not limited to, fire suppression systems, security systems or emergency detection or response systems.  And fourth, in the case of a repair or maintenance project, the specified items of goods or equipment have already been installed during a previous project and replacing those items with items manufactured in the United States would create an unreasonable hardship.  We need to promote American manufacturing harder than ever and this bill does that.

A second bill, House Bill 4286, the Captive Cervid Farming Act, would authorize the Department of Agriculture to regulate captive cervid farming operations in the state.   This bill defines “Captive Cervids” as members of the Cervidae family of animals including, but not limited to, fallow deer, red deer, axis deer, moose, reindeer and caribou which are domesticated animals under the control of the owner of the animal. However, elk and white-tailed deer and all their subspecies are not included in the definition of captive cervid.

The bill gives the Department of Agriculture the ability to propose legislative rules regarding the enforcement and implementation of the act as well as reporting requirements.  It also creates misdemeanor offenses regarding the unlawful release, abandoning of captive cervids as well as an offense for intentionally or knowingly causing free-ranging cervids to enter into a captive cervid farming facility.

This bill will further increase our ability as a state to feed more West Virginians from West Virginian sources. We have plenty of economic opportunities to look at in the agricultural community and I will always fight for jobs, jobs, jobs.

If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues or bills before the legislature please feel free to contact me. To write me, my address is Delegate David Walker, State Capitol, Building 1, Room 203-E, Charleston, WV 25305. Or you may call me at (304) 340-3135. I encourage all my constituents to remain active and become part of the legislative process.