CHARLESTON — For the second time this summer, Gov. Jim Justice’s health issues have caused him to delay work.
In a press release Monday night, Justice said he was forced to postpone scheduled bill-signing ceremonies Tuesday after a visit to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown earlier Monday for a previously scheduled treatment for back issues following bill-signing ceremonies Monday morning in southern West Virginia.
“I then flew to Morgantown and met with retired Maj. Gen. Jim Hoyer,” Justice said. “After that, I had a pre-scheduled appointment at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital to address discomfort in the SI joint in my back. This issue had been bothering me for a few weeks due to awkwardly twisting the joint.
“Under the care of the medical professionals at WVU Medicine, a routine injection was administered to alleviate the joint pain,” Justice continued. “The doctors then advised me not to drive for 24 hours. So because of this, I have decided to postpone my planned events in Huntington and Point Pleasant that were initially set for (Tuesday). Instead, I will be rescheduling these events.”
Justice said he still planned to attend the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia’s Annual Summer Meeting Tuesday morning at the Justice-owned Greenbrier Resort near the governor’s home in Lewisburg. Justice also said he expected to return today to the Capitol in Charleston where he will give his weekly administration briefing.
Justice was supposed to hold bill-signing ceremonies Tuesday for House Bill 117, providing $45 million in surplus tax revenue to the Marshall University Institute for Cyber Security. The funding will be used to construct a new facility in downtown Huntington for the cybersecurity program.
Justice then planned to travel to Point Pleasant to sign Senate Bills 1021, 1022 and 2023, providing $12 million for volunteer fire departments. Of that, $3 million would go toward fire departments in counties with excess levies or dedicated fees for emergency services, $3 million would go to counties and distributed based on population, and $6 million would go to all volunteer fire departments in equal shares. The bills also include a reporting requirement by the departments to the offices of the state treasurer and auditor.
On Monday, Justice signed six corrections bills at the Gene Spadaro Juvenile Center in Mt. Hope, including Senate Bill 1005 providing $21.1 million to increase the starting pay and change pay scales for correctional officers and Senate Bills 1003 and 1004 providing nearly $6 million for one-time bonuses for support staff in the correctional system beginning in October. In Beckley, Justice signed Senate Bill 1032 providing $4 million to the Division of Forestry for wildfire fighting equipment.
The 72-year-old Justice’s health has come under scrutiny since taking office in 2017. At the end of June, the Governor’s Office announced Justice had undergone surgery to remove his gallbladder after experiencing discomfort. Justice spent June 26 in the hospital, returned home to Lewisburg the next day and spent the week recovering.
Justice, at 6-foot-8 and 368 pounds, has often joked about his health issues. Neuropathy issues with his feet cause him pain, making it hard for the governor to walk or stand for long periods of time. Justice also had several bouts with COVID-19 and sought treatment in 2017 at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine for an unknown viral illness. Justice lashed out at rumors about his health at the time.
In his final term as governor, Justice is campaigning for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2024 for the seat now held by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.