West Virginia Senate approves non-disclosure bill

CHARLESTON — A split West Virginia Senate approved a bill Thursday that would exempt wage information for state contractors under the state Freedom of Information Act.

Senate Bill 474 would keep private certain information about employees hired to work on state construction jobs through the West Virginia Jobs Act. The information would include names and addresses of workers hired and their salaries.

Proponents of the bill say the information is nobody’s business, but those opposed to the legislation say it takes away the ability of the press to check on state contracts and make sure contractors are hiring West Virginians and paying them a reasonable wage.

“The government is going to make sure the rules are followed (under the provisions of the bill),” said Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell. “This is a situation where we need to trust the people.”

He noted that voters approved $1.6 billion in road bond sales as part of a $3 billion road construction program. Although state law requires that 75 percent of the workers on those projects be state residents, Woelfel said Senate Bill 474 would take away the means to make sure contractors are actually hiring West Virginia workers. Read more…