CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Supplemental appropriations bills -- which transfer unused money in various state agency accounts to cover budget shortfalls for other state agencies -- usually don't generate controversy, but House Republicans made an exception to that rule on Tuesday.
Initially, their concern over the bill (HB4182) was over whether any money in the bill's transfer of $109 million of special revenue funds to the Department of Health and Human Resources' Medicaid account would be used to fund abortions.
However, GOP leaders had a passage vote on the bill delayed on Monday over concerns about whether the bill -- and most other supplemental appropriations bills -- is constitutional, since the bill also makes appropriations to volunteer fire departments, the West Virginia Rehabilitation Center, the state Racing Commission and other agencies.
"Our goal is to raise this issue, and hopefully, as we move forward with future supplementals, to look at this issue very carefully," said House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha.
The West Virginia Constitution states that supplemental appropriation bills are to be limited to a "single work, object or purpose."
"If we have a supplemental appropriation that includes more than one department, we are on very infirm constitutional ground," argued Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha.
"If this is challenged, and that funding is not available to them because the Supreme Court says the Legislature acted inappropriately and unconstitutionally, that funding goes away," Lane said, raising concerns on the possible impact on agencies slated to receive the appropriations.
House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, and other House leaders concluded that there is no constitutional issue with the traditional "bundling" of various agencies into supplemental appropriations bills.