For the week ending April 2, 2021
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With only days remaining in the regular legislative session, members of the House of Delegates remain focused on completing legislation that will make West Virginia the easy choice to stay, to relocate, to connect and to create.
As of April 2, a total of 200 House bills have passed the full House, 88 bills have completed legislation and 39 of those have been signed into law. The House passed a budget bill April 2 and will continue working with the Senate to submit a balanced budget bill to the governor.
Senate bill 275, which would create an intermediate court of appeals in West Virginia, completed legislation this week. House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, left the Speaker’s podium March 30 when the measure was up for a vote in the House to speak in support of it on the floor, saying he had been in support of the concept in previous legislative sessions, but he also had been against different versions of the legislation.
“I think we’ve struck a good balance from a policy perspective here,” Hanshaw said. “It relieves some of the backlog of the trial court and gives an access point for West Virginians who are looking to have disputes resolved.”
The House unanimously approved a bill to expand what had been a pilot program for Family Drug Treatment Court. House Bill 2918 would make the court program permanent and would eliminate what a previous ban on participation for a parent who had a prior involuntary termination of parental rights of another child. Family Drug Treatment Courts involve collaboration among treatment providers, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and other agencies to further the goal of providing parents and families with treatment as well as accountability.
House Bill 2499 completed legislative action this week. The measure, which now goes to Gov. Jim Justice for action, has four narrow and targeted tax reductions aimed at making West Virginia the easy choice for future investment and job creation. It would implement property tax relief for firearms and ammunition manufacturers and would allow a slightly higher manufacturing investment tax credit for those types of manufacturers as well as creating a tax credit for federal excise tax imposed on small arms and ammunition and exempt sales of certain defined small arms and small arms ammunition from state sales and use taxes.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, was the lead sponsor of the bill. Howell said his district is already the proud home of Northrop Grumman, but if this bill becomes law, it would make the defense company’s Mineral County plant the single best place in the nation to expand its ammunitions manufacturing operation.
The House overwhelmingly approved House Bill 2266 this week, which would expand Medicaid coverage for post-partum women up to one year after birth. Lead sponsor Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell, said research shows the period from seven months to 12 months postpartum is the deadliest for women because they lose access to their care. The measure is now with the Senate for debate.
The House also completed House Bill 2145, which would allow counties to support more specific training for student aides in public schools. The bill was created last year after much consultation with the West Virginia Department of Education to hone in on the proper language that would create something to help students without adding a financial burden to the state.
“This would allow our counties, if they want, to provide more specific training at no cost to the aide and would create two new classifications for classroom aides,” said Delegate Christopher Toney, R-Raleigh, the lead sponsor of the bill. “This would create the positions of Special Education Assistant Teacher and Behavioral Support Assistant Teacher.”