Swartzmiller calls for Social Security to be added to agenda

CHESTER — While some state lawmakers are seeking to put a stop to a special legislative session on educational betterment, one local delegate is hoping for it to be expanded in order to include other issues.

Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday, asking the governor to include discussion of Social Security tax exemptions for West Virginia’s senior citizens as part of the agenda for the special session. The House of Delegates are set to return to Charleston Monday to discuss several proposed bills focused on education reform.

“I am respectfully requesting that the governor expand his legislative agenda in the upcoming special session. I’m asking him to include all West Virginia seniors, regardless of household income, be included in the exemption of the West Virginia Social Security tax,” Swartzmiller said. “I do not believe we should be picking winners and losers when it comes to our seniors. They have all paid taxes their entire lives and they all deserve to be exempt from the West Virginia state tax on Social Security.”

Swartzmiller said this is the second time in three months he has reached out to Justice to make sure a request.

Passage of such legislation prior to June 30, Swartzmiller explained, would allow all senior citizens to be included in tax exemptions for the upcoming 2019-2020 fiscal year

“I have invited the governor to join me in positive thinking so we can turn the special session into a win-win for the seniors of West Virginia by adding the Social Security bill to the agenda,” Swartzmiller said. “I believe thousands of seniors and the people that are dependent upon them would be appreciative of our combined efforts. Instead of viewing the special session in a negative light, I have encouraged him to work with me and let’s at least say we had some success during the session and we were able to help the seniors that were left behind.”

On Tuesday, Democratic leadership in the House called for Justice to end the special session, citing continuing issues surrounding the proposed education legislation and feuding between the governor and top Republicans in the Legislature.

As part of special session discussions, the Senate passed SB 1039, the Student Success Act, an education omnibus bill as well as a separate piece of legislation dealing with education savings accounts. Meanwhile, the House has at least nine individual pieces of legislation focused on education, with four committees formed to study various aspects of potential reform pack.