Morsels Of Truth by Bil Lepp
West Virginia legislators make $20,000 for the sixty day regular legislative period. That’s $333 a day.
If you get paid $10.00 an hour, and are lucky enough to work forty hours a week, you make about $19,200 a year.
Currently the members of the House Judiciary Committee are in a special session to determine if certain WV Supreme Court justices should be kicked out office for all sorts of extravagant numbskull abuses of power. I attended one of those sessions on July 19.
Many legislators get an additional $7860 to cover their expenses during the regular session. Expenses include things like eating and lodging. You get $19,200 for a whole year and you don’t get extra money to cover your lunch or rent. Also, their $27860 comes out of your paycheck in state taxes. You pay for their $27,860 which is one reason why your take-home pay is less than $19,200 a year. You’re welcome. Oh, and many legislators have other jobs or are retired and drawing a pension or Social Security.
Legislators do not get extra pay if the legislative session lasts more than sixty days. They do not get extra pay if a special is session called.
The session I attended opened with Del. Shott, a Republican, and the Chairperson of the committee, explaining that some delegates were asking about getting paid for the extra session. Paid above and beyond the $20,000 they get for the regular sixty day session. In all fairness, some delegates are required to use vacation or personal days from their regular jobs to attend the session.
When I was a pastor I was paid a salary. I also had a house provided for me and some of my bills paid by the church. My total annual package was something under $25,000. I understood that for that sum I was required to not just preach on Sunday morning, but be available twenty-four a days, 365 days a year, in the event of a death, illness, wedding, or myriad other circumstances. I went to the hospital in the middle of the night. I changed personal plans to perform funerals. It was understood that these functions were part and parcel of pastoring. I did not expect to get paid extra if an event occurred outside regular business hours. (Though families would often slip me $50 or $100 for a wedding or a funeral. In both cases I felt like that money was given because the family was just glad the whole damn thing was over without a hitch. When you’re the pastor at a wedding or a funeral, you are always seconds away from assuming the responsibilities of World Wrestling Federation referee.)
The House of Delegates has known since autumn of 2017 that one or more justices of the state Supreme Court have been naughty. In January of 2018, during the regular sixty day session for which delegates are paid $20,000, Del. Mike Puskin, a Democrat, asked the House to begin the process of impeaching Justice Laughry. The Republican majority voted against Puskin’s resolution to start the proceedings. The regular sixty day session ended without any action on impeachment.
The Republican majority decided to not do their work during the regular session. Now the House Judiciary Committee, made up of nineteen Republicans and six Democrats, has been called back in a special session to deal with the impeachment. They are not getting paid for the special session, but at least some of them are asking about getting extra pay for work they willfully neglected to do seven months ago. If it’s the Democrats asking, I can sympathize. They wanted to take care of this during the regular session. If it is the Republicans asking for extra pay I can’t muster any pity. This committee would not have to go above and beyond if the Republicans had done what they were supposed to do seven months ago.
The Republican delegates voted against taking care of this in January. Now they have to take care of it in July. Hints and rumors suggest the Republicans are deliberately making the special session last longer than it needs to so that they can appoint Republican Tim Armstead to the seat instead of letting voters pick the next Supreme Court Judge. (Link to Wheels on Bus) The Republicans neglected their responsibilities, they may be purposely going as slow as possible in order to suppress your right to vote, and they are doing it to give themselves the gift of at least one Supreme Court seat. And they want you to pay them extra to do it. This is not a case of going above and beyond. This is a case of the plotting, plodding parliament killing the nincompoop King to put the handpicked Prince on the throne and then submitting the bill to the people and asking for overtime
For more WVStrong.Org Coverage of the WV Supreme Court Impeachment story, check out Dan Heyman's Interview with House Judiciary Chairman, John Shott.
Bil Lepp is a nationally renowned storyteller and a PEN Award winning author. To see more of Bil's WV Strong content click here.