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Jim Justice

West Virginia Governor’s Office Gov. Jim Justice talks during his COVID-19 media conference on Friday, the same day he signed into law 40 bills that the West Virginia Legislature adopted during a special legislative session from Oct. 11 to Oct. 20.

Gov. Jim Justice on Friday signed 40 bills that the Legislature passed during an eight-day special session earlier this month.

Justice himself had asked lawmakers to consider the bills in his call for the special session, which he updated at least twice after the session convened Oct. 11.

Among the bills were bills establishing the state’s legislative and congressional district maps that will be in place until the 2032 election cycle.

Lawmakers finished their work on the maps the last day of the session.

During the fourth day of the session, members of the House of Delegates adopted a map that incorporates 100 single-member districts, a change from the previous map that had 67 districts, some with multiple members.

The Senate spun its wheels for three business days and a weekend on its redistricting work, rejecting one map before finally adopting one during the seventh day of the session, following negotiations and map-drawing that took place outside of public meetings.

West Virginia’s new congressional map cuts the state into two districts, with the northern and eastern panhandles grouped together in the northern district.

The southern coalfields and most of central West Virginia are grouped in the other.

Among the other bills Justice signed Friday was House Bill 335, which broadens exemptions people can use to avoid taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The law requires private or public employers to accept religious or medical exemptions if they mandate vaccines for their employees.

Justice also signed bills appropriating federal COVID-19 relief money to various state agencies, including funds lawmakers allocated to the West Virginia Department of Commerce as part of a $1 billion broadband infrastructure program the governor announced Oct. 15.

Lacie Pierson covers politics. She can be reached at 304-348-1723 or Follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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