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Volume XXVII, Issue 4 - February 23, 2016


Legislature Turns Focus to Public Safety Issues

Constitutional Carry Bill Passes Senate


This week in the Legislature, public safety bills picked up some steam.

A bill that would eliminate the need for a concealed carry permit in the state passed the House 68-31 on Feb. 8. House Bill 4145 - relating to the carry or use of a handgun or deadly weapon - was sent to the Senate Judiciary committee where it was amended and sent to the full Senate. The Senate laid the bill over on second reading on Friday, with a vote expected to come Monday, Feb. 22.

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said HB 4145 is a good piece of legislation and accomplished the goals it intended.

“I think it’s pretty good in that it does the two things (it) was designed to do,” Trump said. “That is give life to the constitutional right for people to bear arms as well as trying to take them out of the hands of the bad guys.”

The bill also enhances the penalty for use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Criminals who use a firearm during a felony would be subject to ten years of imprisonment in a state correctional facility to run consecutively with any other sentencing. Co-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, said the constitutional carry bill is about just that.

“The bill is a balance between people being able to exercise their constitutional rights, but also maintaining prohibitions in place for persons not able to have concealed firearms,” Lane said.

A bill sponsored by Delegate Brian Kurcaba, R-Monongalia, would establish a felony offense of strangulation. The bill passed the House of Delegates almost unanimously 93-2 and goes to the Senate for consideration in the Judiciary committee.

House Bill 4362 would establish a felony offense of strangulation. The House Judiciary amended the measure to add “another person” and “without consent” to the original language of the bill. The legislation is in the Senate Judiciary committee.

Trump said a bill that would create a felony strangulation offense passed last session but was vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

“We’re going to have it on our agenda in committee,” Trump said. “It’s an important issue that had broad support in the Senate last year, we were all surprised when Gov. Tomblin vetoed it.”

Lane said he would hope the Senate passed the House version of the felony strangulation measure. He said the bill fills in the gap between simple battery and malicious wounding as it pertains to strangulation.

“This provides some middle level felony offense for strangling somebody which unfortunately have become prevalent around the country,” Lane said.

If passed, Senate Bill 13 would increase the penalties for overtaking and passing a stopped school bus passed the Senate with almost unanimous support.

If passed, the bill would increase penalties for violation of the code causing death and if found guilty of a felony would hold not less than a year or more than ten years in a state correctional facility as well as a fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $3,000.

“It’s important we address that, it’s already a crime not to stop for a school bus but it seems to keep happening,” Trump said. “We end up with kids hurt, serious injuries, fatalities and I think all of us feel the urgency in doing everything we can to eliminate that.”

As for the issue of people illegally passing stopped school buses, Lane said the public issue is a matter of public education and he hopes passing the bill will do that.

A major issue in the county Lane serves, he said the bill also ramps up penalties for those who disregard the laws in place.


Other bills on the subject of public safety:

Senate Bill 445 - Requiring well operators and pipeline operators to report emergency incidents to Division of Homeland Security
House Bill 4197 - Allowing required HIV and hepatitis testing for the protection of law- enforcement officers who may have been exposed
House Bill 4219 - Relating to vehicle inspection stations
House Bill 4453 - Requiring the State Police to partner with the DNA and Digital Forensics sections of Marshall University Forensic Science Center

 


Bills Passed from the Senate

As of 3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 20th, 2016, the 39th day of the second session of the 82nd Legislature, 662 bills have been introduced in the Senate. Of those, 133 of the bills have passed and have been sent to the House for further consideration.

Senate Bill 10 (Creating Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act) would prohibit any person from performing or attempting to perform a dismemberment abortion unless the woman has a condition that necessitated the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or serious risk of physical impairment of a major bodily function.

 

Senate Bill 16 (Providing tax credit for providing broadband service to unserved areas) would allow broadband providers to receive a tax credit for bringing broadband services to unserved areas in West Virginia.  Any eligible taxpayer can receive a credit against the corporate net income tax imposed for providing broadband service to a location in the amount of $500 for each location.

 

Senate Bill 54 (Altering how tax is collected on homeowners’ associations) would exempt membership dues, fees and assessments paid to a homeowners’ association by a member from the tax imposed if the dues, fees and assessments are for the purpose of permitting or funding the homeowners’ associations’ payment of common expenses when acting in its representative capacity for its members.

 

Senate Bill 105 (Creating Tim Tebow Act allowing nonpublic school student participate in SSAC member school athletics) would allow students instructed at home or enrolled in a private church or parochial school, who do not attend a school that is a member of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission to participate in extracurricular athletics or activities at a school that is a SSAC member.

 

Senate Bill 272 (Allowing investigators from Attorney General’s office to carry concealed weapons) would allow investigators designated by the Attorney General to carry a firearm in the course of performing their official duties.

 

Senate Bill 283 (Creating crime when fire is caused by operation of a clandestine drug laboratory) would find any person who operates a clandestine drug laboratory and causes any dwelling, outbuilding, building or structure to be burned is guilty of a felony.

 

Senate Bill 293 (Neighborhood Investment Program Act) would reauthorize the act until July 1, 2021.  The act deals with reducing frequency of required project transferee reports, reducing number of required advisory board meetings, reducing required number of West Virginia Development Office reports to the board, eliminating guidance on what a community based project is when the board is valuating a project, removing requirement that Tax Commissioner annually publish addresses of taxpayers who slain the credit, and reducing frequency of program assessments by the director.

 

Senate Bill 298 (Allowing restaurants, private clubs and wineries sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays) would allow restaurants, private clubs, distilleries, mini-distilleries and wineries to sell and serve alcohol beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays

 

Senate Bill 315 (Providing for construction of statewide fiber optic broadband infrastructure network) would create a separate infrastructure fund for a broadband middle mile infrastructure being built in the state.  Certain agencies would be required to apply for grant funds in furtherance of broadband middle mile infrastructure projects.

 

Senate Bill 404 (Removing prohibition on billing persons for testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases) would allow the billing for testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases done by the state or local public health agencies.  It would also require magistrate a circuit courts to order testing of individuals accused of certain sex crimes.

 

Senate Bill 462 (Reducing deposit of excess lottery proceeds into WV Infrastructure Fund) would deposit $30 million to the West Virginia Infrastructure Fund beginning July 1, 2016.

 

Senate Bill 504 (Relating to confidentiality of juvenile records) would generally keep a recorded interview of a minor in a criminal or abuse or neglect case confidential and exempt from disclosure.

 

Senate Bill 529 (Making certain sport and educational fantasy games lawful) would prevent nothing in the code to prohibit the offering of or participation in fantasy games.  Also, nothing in the code or in any regulation, rule, ordinance or other law shall be deemed or construed to provide or impose criminal penalties or sanctions of any kind for offering or participating in fantasy games.




Bills Passed from the House

As of 3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 20th, 2016, the 39th day of the second sessions of the 82nd Legislature, 1,088 bills have been introduced in the House. Of those, 70 of those bills have passed and been sent to the Senate for their consideration.

House Bill 4228 (Relating to transportation network companies) would work to create transportation network companies; to provide definitions; to declare not common carriers; to require permits; to require an agent for service of process; to provide for fare collection; identification; and electronic receipts; to require financial responsibility and disclosure thereof; to allow automobile insurers to exclude certain coverages; to define the relationship between drivers and transportation network companies. This bill would also prohibit alcohol or drug and provide requirements for drivers. House Bill 4228 would also require vehicle inspections. It would also work to prohibit street hails, cash trips and discrimination. This bill would also require customer records to be kept and to prohibit local entity taxes or licenses. This bill will now be discussed further in the Senate.

House Bill 2615 (West Virginia Small Business Capital Act) would work to create the West Virginia Small Business Capital Act. It exempts the offer and sale of certain securities from the Uniform Securities Act. This bill will now be sent to the Senate for further discussion.

House Bill 4146 (Providing insurance cover abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs) would work to provide insurance coverage for abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs. It provides that direct health care services cover abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs while also providing certain contracts cover abuse deterrent opioid analgesic drugs. It, additionally defines applicable terms while providing an effective date. This bill will now be sent to the Senate for further discussion.

House Bill 4188 (Relating to the development and implementation of a program to facilitate commercial sponsorship of rest areas) would work to provide a program to develop and implement a program to facilitate commercial sponsorship of rest areas and welcome centers on controlled-access highway facilities. The bill also creates the Legislative Oversight Commission on Controlled-access Facilities Sponsorship to investigate, study and review the development and implementation of the program.

House Bill 4218 (Expanding the definition of “underground facility” in the One-Call System Act) would work to implement a formal recommendation offered by the West Virginia Commission on Oil and Natural Gas Industry Safety, which Governor Tomblin convened by executive order. Specifically, the bill expands the definition of “underground facility” in the One-Call System Act to include underground pipelines for gas, oil, or any hazardous substances that are four inches in diameter or greater and are not otherwise subject to one-call reporting requirements under federal or state law.

House Bill 4309 (Increasing criminal penalties for conviction of certain offenses of financial exploitation of an elderly person) would work to increase the criminal penalties for conviction of the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated person. This bill would work to increase the criminal penalty for the offense of financial exploitation of $1,000 or more.

House Bill 2122 (Making it illegal for first responders to photograph a corpse; Jonathon’s Law) would work to make it illegal for anyone to photograph a corpse except for a legitimate purpose. This bill would prohibit and provide criminal penalties upon violation. This bill is being sent to the Senate for further discussion.

House Bill 4347 (Providing pregnant women priority to substance abuse treatment) which would work to give pregnant women priority to substance abuse treatment. This bill states that substance abuse or recovery service providers that accept Medicaid shall give pregnant women priority in accessing services and shall not refuse access to services solely due to pregnancy as long as the provider’s services are appropriate for pregnant women. The bill is now being sent to the Senate for further discussion.

House Bill 4417 (Increasing wages protected from garnishment) would work to potentially increase wages protected from garnishment. This bill will now be sent to the Senate for further discussion and consideration.

House Bill 2474 (Relating to the compensation of personnel employed at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind) would update the minimum salaries in effect for personnel at facilities under jurisdiction of the State Board of Education. This bill would also authorize the board to establish salary schedules or compensation in excess of the minimums for certain teachers.

House Bill 2852 (Relating to legalizing and regulating the sale and use of fireworks) would authorize the sale of consumer fireworks, establish regulatory framework for sale of fireworks, require a certificate and permits for the sale of fireworks. The bill also establishes fees of which two-thirds will be delegated to the West Virginia Veterans’ Facilities Support Fund and one-third will be delegated to the Fire Protection Fund.

House Bill 4013 (Requiring a person desiring to vote to present documentation identifying the voter) would require voters to provide a photo identification when voting. The bill allows for exemptions for those who live in nursing care facilities where precincts are located and those with religious objections to having their photograph taken. Additionally, the bill allows an update for provisional ballot procedures, provides for complimentary photo ID cards to a voter upon request and representation that the photo ID card is requested for the purpose of voting, and establishes procedures for persons over a certain age lacking certain documents to acquire driver’s licenses and photo ID cards.

House Bill 4150 (Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Resources) would appropriate funds to the Department of Health and Human Resources for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

House Bill 4151 (Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Education) would appropriate federal funds out of the Treasury to the Department of Education, State Board of Education – School Lunch Program and Department of Education, State Board of Education – Vocational Division for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

House Bill 4159 (Making a supplementary appropriation to the Public Services Commission – Motor Carrier Division) would appropriate federal funds out of the Treasury to the Public Services Commission – Motor Carrier Division.

House Bill 4213 (Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act) would codify standard procedures for resolution and determination of custody and visitation issues when a parent is deployed in the military or other national service.

House Bill 4261 (Prohibiting the sale or transfer of student data to vendors and other profit making entities) would  prohibit the department from transferring confidential student information to federal, state or local agencies or other persons or entities. The bill also would authorize student or redacted data to be provided as part of a contract with a vendor, and would add a new exception providing for the sharing of certain information in the event that the ACT or SAT tests are adopted for use as the state summative assessment.

House Bill 4499 (Relating to certain persons who have been disqualified or excused from jury service) would remove certain persons who have been disqualified or excused from jury service of the grounds of nonresidence from the voter registration rolls.

House Bill 4520 (Clarifying that certain hospitals have only one governing body whose meetings shall be open to the public) would clarify that hospitals owned or operated by nonprofit corporations, nonprofit associations or local governmental units, may have only one governing body whose meetings shall be open to the public.


Cline
Senators Boley & Cline
Senator Sue Cline talks with Senator Donna Boley prior to a floor session last week. Upon her appointment on January 22nd, 2016, Senator Cline doubled the number of females actively serving in the West Virginia Senate.
PHOTO: Martin Valent
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