Department of Commerce Requests $14 Million for Tourism
The West Virginia Department of Commerce requested an additional $14 million from the Senate Finance Committee Monday.
Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby addressed the committee to explain the additional funding found within the fiscal year 2020 budget request would go directly towards state tourism.
“Hands down, the number one thing holding (state tourism) back is money,” Ruby said. “Advertising directly impacts how people see the state.”
The committee learned that additional funding would go toward five different categories with $10 million going toward brand promotions, $1.5 million for public relations, $500,000 for events and sponsorships, $500,000 for industry development and $1.5 million for state parks and recreation advertising.
If awarded the money, the state would still have a large gap of funding when compared to surrounding states. Currently, the state gains an average of $4.5 billion from travel spending while Pittsburgh sees $41.5 billion on average and Ohio gains $35 billion.
Ruby explained that despite a large request for additional funding, the state’s tourism industry is outpacing the national rate by 30 percent following four years of decline. Ruby cited statistics saying the state gained $4.3 billion from direct consumer spending and saw 36 percent more visitors than 2017.
“Since 2012, we’ve seen an increase in tourism growth,” Ruby said. “Numbers are definitely trending in the right direction.”
In total, the department is requesting $85,473,930 for fiscal year 2020.
Additionally, Sen. Corey Paulmbo, D-Kanawha, addressed the department to get an update about work going on between the state with China concerning potential investments.
Mike Graney, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, addressed the senator and said that work is still going on with China for potential investments and huge possibilities that could arise within the year.
“China has made three visits to the state and currently have three active projects they’re working on,” Graney said.
The West Virginia Secretary of State also presented their budget proposal which includes $957,594 for general revenue, $4,342,243 for general administration fees and $1,003,611 for service fee and collection.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met Monday afternoon to discuss two bills on the agenda.
Senate Bill 258 relates to piercing the cooperate veil for Limited Liability Companies (LLC). The bill would not allow “veil piercing” claims to be used to impose personal liability on a member or manager of a limited liability company. The bill nullifies the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals decision in Joseph Kubican v. The Tavern, LLC.
There was a discussion on real world applications of the bill if it would pass. The Committee wanted to ensure every member knew the implications, and how the bill would impact court cases in the future. Some senators expressed concern on not holding members of LLCs accountable.
The bill passed on a 12-3 roll call vote, and was reported to the Senate to be voted upon.
Senate Bill 264 relates to requiring courts to order restitution to crime victims. The bill would include the Crime Victim’s Fund as an entity which may obtain reimbursement from defendants for money given a victim.
The bill was approved unanimously, and was referred to the Committee on Finance.
The House Judiciary Committee passed four bills and rejected one measure, which dominated discussion in the Monday afternoon meeting, relating to pyramid schemes.
House Bill 2198 provides new amended definitions and language relating to pyramid promotional schemes. This bill was highly discussed and much confusion was found in the bill’s new definitions and context. After questions had been asked and all discussion was finished, the committee voted not to pass the bill. Those against the bill argued that it would allow pyramid schemes already in place to thrive and would provide scapegoats for new pyramid schemes. Delegates also argued the language in the new bill was confusing and ambiguous and that it was a solution searching for a problem.
The committee reviewed a total of seven bills. One of these, discussed very briefly, was House Bill 2527, which relates to forgery and other crimes concerning lottery tickets. The committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House floor.
House Bill 2509 relates to theft of a controlled substance. This bill only adds clarification and some additional language. The committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House floor.
House Bill 2319 creates a state-administered wholesale drug importation program. The committee looked over this bill and voted to move the bill forward as a resolution for further study and research.
House Bill 2083 provides an identification card for released inmates who do not have a West Virginia identification card. Without having an identification card, it can be very hard for inmates once they are released, to find a job or set up a bank account. These identification cards would be temporary for 90 days, this would allow the inmates to go to a DMV and get their license. The committee voted to send this bill to the House but first go to Finance for further discussion.
House Bill 2446 relates to the Blue Alert plan. This bill would establish a Blue Alert plan in West Virginia and it is similar to silver and amber alerts. This program is already codified in more than 30 states. The program is voluntary and in order for the alert to be initiated, an officer must be killed, critically injured, or missing. The committee passed this bill and reported it to the House floor.
The last item on the agenda was House Bill 2467, which relates to permitting nonresidents to obtain state licenses to carry a concealed and deadly weapon. This bill was not discussed by the committee and instead it was recommended to a sub-committee.
A House committee debated at length a bill that would allow certain people to drive a motorcycle without a helmet but ultimately, laid the bill over to the next meeting.
The House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure met Monday to consider several bills. However, discussion on House Bill 2070 dominated the meeting.
House Bill 2070 would allow people in the state of West Virginia to operate a motorcycle without a helmet providing that they’ve held a motorcycle license for at least two years and are 21 or older. This bill proved to be contentious in the committee meeting, and generated a lengthy discussion on the parameters and implications of the legislation.
Bruce Martin, a director of the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management, presented information regarding the legislation.
Martin used Florida as an example of a motorcycle helmet repeal, citing the number of motor vehicle accidents decreased significantly after the state stopped requiring their riders to wear helmets.
Martin stood in strong support of the bill, arguing his data showed “people just ride safer without the helmet.”
His argument centered on the idea that when motorcyclists wear helmets, they feel invincible and are more likely to engage in reckless behavior. Additionally, Martin told the committee the majority of traumatic brain injury cases are whiplash-related — thus, implicating the helmet as a factor in causing the brain injury.
“You’ll find that in a lot of cases, these helmets, which add an extra five pounds on average, are actually causing traumatic brain injury due to whiplash,” Martin said.
Some delegates questioned Martin at length, mentioning concerns of costs to West Virginia Medicaid, increasing insurance premiums, and general safety concerns for people.
Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-Marion, argued the passage of the amendment could become costly to West Virginia Medicaid.
Also present to provide data was Jill Rice, the President of the West Virginia Insurance Federation.
Rice presented information that countered against Martin’s directly, citing the state of Michigan.
“After Michigan repealed their helmet laws, injury claims in the state went up twenty-two percent,” Rice said.
Rice stated that the use of a motorcycle helmet increased a cyclists’ chances to not suffer from traumatic brain injury by three times.
Due to the lengthy and contentious debate that House Bill 2070 generated, the bill was laid over until the next House Technology and Infrastructure Committee meeting. The committee adjourned, leaving the following two bills on the agenda to be laid over as well.
The Senate voted unanimously on Monday morning to adopt Senate Resolution 11 which declared Jan. 21, 2019 as Down Syndrome Awareness Day.
The Senate also voted unanimously to adopt Senate Resolution 13 which recognized Leadership Berkeley for their continued service, dedication, and commitment to Berkeley County. Members of the organization were recognized and presented the resolution during a brief recess.
Senate bills 17, 61, and 119 all passed on third reading, and were reported to the House.
Senate Bill 17 relates to probation eligibility for people who have been convicted of certain sexual offenses. The bill would allow a psychological exam in instead of a psychiatric exam.
Senate Bill 61 would add certain crimes for which prosecutor may apply for wiretap. There was a discussion between Senator Romano and Chairman Trump over the definition of treason, and how a person could commit treason against the state of West Virginia.
Senate Bill 119 relates to specifying documents not subject to discovery in certain proceedings.
Senate Bills 355 to 385 were introduced and reported to the appropriate committees.
The following committees will meet today:
Natural Resources at 1p.m. in 208W
Banking & Insurance at 2p.m. in 451M
Finance at 3p.m. in 451M
Judiciary at 3p.m. in 208W
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
Transportation & Infrastructure at 10a.m. in 451M
Education at 2p.m. at 451M
The House of Delegates convened Monday for the 13th day of the Regular Legislative Session, passing two bills.
The House passed Committee Substitute for House Bill 2190, which would modify bail requirements. This would allow for the release of people with certain misdemeanors, providing that they appear in court on their allotted date.
“On average, these people with nonviolent misdemeanors are held on an average of six days,” said Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, a lead sponsor of the bill. “This greatly impacts their ability to hold onto their jobs.”
The House also passed House Bill 2311, which would stop requiring full year reportage of short term merchant licensees. Currently, statute requires that those who receive a short term license for selling goods temporarily within the state have to report those taxes throughout the entire year. This bill would only require them to report those expenses until the fees are paid off.
Bills introduced Monday included House Bill 2532, a bill that would allow West Virginia citizens to make $3, $5, or $10 donations to the West Virginia 4-H Foundation, the West Virginia Farm Bureau Foundation, and/or the West Virginia Future Farmers of America Educational Foundation when they renew their driver’s licenses.
Two bills on second reading were postponed one day – House Bill 2008, relating to nonpartisan election of state Supreme Court justices, and House Bill 2193, which provides a specific escheat of U.S. savings bonds.
Bills advanced to the amendment stage were: House Bill 2195, which would create a sentencing commission within the state, and House Bill 2423, which would prohibit sex offenders from being in a supervisory position over children within the state.
The House will convene again tomorrow at 11 a.m. on Jan. 22 for the 14th day of the regular session.
Committees Meeting Today:
House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure will meet at 1 p.m. in 215-E.
House Education Committee will meet at 2 p.m. in 432-M.
House Finance Committee will meet at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in 460-M for budget presentations.
House Judiciary Committee will meet at 2 p.m. in 410-M.
House Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services will meet at 4 p.m. in 215-E.
Committees Meeting Before Floor Session Tomorrow:
There were be a public hearing regarding House Bill 2010, relating to foster care, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the House Chamber.
House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources will meet at 8:30 a.m. in 215-E.
House Committee on Industry and Labor will meet at 10 a.m. in 215-E.
The House Rules Committee will meet at 10:45 a.m. behind the House Chamber.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced five bills and decided not to take up one bill.
The first bill the committee reviewed is House Bill 2005, which is the Broadband Expansion Act for 2019. This bill is another step in aiding the deployment of reliable small wireless facilities and other next-generation wireless and broadband network. The bill was passed unanimously by the committee and reported to the House.
House Bill 2459 regards exercising authority to exempt individuals domiciled within the state from certain restrictions contained in federal law. This law was originally passed in 1996 and has remained ever since. It was accepted in Guam, Mississippi and South Carolina. Statistics show in 2016, this law would have been able to impact 2000 applicants that were denied, there were 1,300 that were denied in 2018.
The committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House.
House Bill 2462 relates to the authority for correctional employees and parole officers to carry and use firearms. This was originally a right of corrections officers but the section of code that allowed this right was at some point lost during legislation. The committee after only a few questions quickly voted on the bill to pass and be reported to the House.
House Bill 2412 relates to criminal acts concerning government procurement of commodities and services. This bill was not discussed in detail and after a few questions of counsel and speakers, the committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House.
Finally, the committee reviewed House Bill 2435, which authorizes attorneys general to prosecute violations of state criminal law recommended by the Commission on Special Investigations. This bill was heavily discussed amongst the committee and many questions were asked of counsel and speakers from the commission and a prosecutor. After the committee was done with questions voting on the bill was presented and the bill was passed with 14 for the bill and 11 against.
The Judiciary Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Monday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee convened for a meeting 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18.
Members of the committee went over the committee substitute bundle for Senate Bills 224–230.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 225, concerns a Division of Labor rule relating to the regulation of heating, ventilating and cooling work. Senate Bill 229 is another rule bill relating to commercial whitewater rafting.
Following a motion by Majority Whip, Sen. Ryan Ward, R-Brooke, the committee unanimously voted to send the committee substitutes to the full Senate with the recommendation that they do pass.
The committee also reviewed technical changes made on Senate Bill 253 which would protect consumers from automatic purchase renewals and continuous service offers. Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, lead sponsor for the bill, said the committee substitute was created to make “minor technical changes (to the bill),” Jeffries said.
“(Automatic purchase renewal) was something that was brought to my attention last year. The more I spoke with people, the more I realized that this was something we need to look into,” Jeffries said. “Seniors don’t understand how these automatic systems work and we need to get a better understanding (of them) to make sure they know what’s happening.”
Ultimately, the committee unanimously agreed on the committee substitute and voted to send the bill to the full Senate.
Sen. Paul Hardesty, the new 7th District West Virginia Senate seat, was also welcomed to the committee.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development met on Friday afternoon to discuss six bills on their agenda that related to the Agriculture Commission.
The bills related to new regulations the Agriculture Commission would like to adopt; some bills include sunset provisions for the proposed pilot programs.
Senate Bill 195 relates to farmers and excess produce. The bill would allow farmers to donate produce to nonprofits. The farmers would then be given a tax credit for the amount of produce donated.
Senate Bill 196 relates to Agritourisim. The bill would define the definition as an “activity on a farm used for recreational activities.” The bill would also lay out the duties of farmers who choose to use their land for Agritourisim.
The Committee voted unanimously to approve the bills, and were referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
The House of Delegates passed two bills in its Friday floor session.
The first bill the House passed was House Bill 2815, which is a bill relating to the removal of animals left unattended in motor vehicles. Currently in state code, there is nothing allowing average citizens to rescue animals unattended without negative repercussions. However, under this bill, certain officers and agents would be allowed to remove animals.
The bill passed unanimously with four members absent.
The House also passed House Bill 2307, which would allow the creation of provisional licenses for practicing barbering and cosmetology.
House Bill 2190, which modifies bail requirements, was advanced to third reading. Currently after reviewing all the circumstances, a court or magistrate is of the opinion that a defendant will appear as may be required, the magistrate may release that individual upon their own recognizance.
This bill adds a subsection which requires a magistrate, except for good cause show, to release the person charged with certain misdemeanor offenses on their recognizance. The House adopted an amendment, which says that within 10 days, a prosecutor could make a motion to the magistrate or circuit judge to set bond or to provide evidence of a person that would show good cause for them not to be released.
House Bill 2311 was also advanced to third reading. This bill exempts short-term license holders to submit information to the State Tax Commission once the term of the permit has expired. The amendment was a technical change to the language in a section of code included in the bill. The House adopted the amendment.
The House of Delegates will reconvene at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21.
Committees Meeting Today After 11 am:
The House Committee for Judiciary will resume meeting at 1 p.m. today, Friday, Jan. 18 in 418M
The Senate welcomed Sen. Paul Hardesty to the 7th District West Virginia Senate seat, in Friday morning’s floor session.
Hardesty was appointed to the seat following Sen. Richard Ojeda’s resignation on Jan. 10.
The Senate also discussed Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 which seeks to address the crumbling infrastructure around the state.
The resolution was unanimously adopted following the passage of Senate Bill 272 which updates code relating to the Commission on Special Investigations.
During the floor session, the Senate also passed Senate Bill272, relating to updating the code relating to the Commission on Special Investigations.
The Senate also introduced Senate Bills 343-353. Senate Bill 343 relates to the review and approval of state property leases. Senate Bill 350 would define terms to assure correctional officers are considered law-enforcement offices.
The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21.
The following committees will meet today:
· The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development will meet at 12:30 p.m. in 208W
· The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will meet immediately following the Agriculture and Rural Development committee.
The following committees will meet Monday:
· The Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance will meet 2 p.m. in 451M.
The House Committee on Finance heard a budget presentation from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for the first time Friday morning.
This is the first budget hearing from the state Supreme Court since the passage of Constitutional Amendment 2, which allows for legislative oversight over how the state Supreme Court spends its money.
Chief Justice Beth Walker presented the court’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which was held constant with Gov. Jim Justice’s budget recommendations.
Walker first gave the committee an outline of how the court system in West Virginia operates with a detailed list of employee numbers across the state courts for the fiscal year of 2018. Personal services make up 80 percent of the court’s budget. The appropriations for the fiscal year of 2019 equaled about $139.9 million.
Walker proposed her budget for the fiscal year of 2020, which requests $131,150,000 in total general revenue. Most of this will be used to pay employees within the Court, and help establish guardian ad litems, guardians, and mental hygiene commissioners throughout the state. A chunk of this will also be used to help provide the computer equipment needed to counties implementing the new CourtPLUS e-filing software, which is due to be fully implemented within the state by 2021.
Walker also unveiled the new financial policies that the West Virginia Supreme Court will be utilizing this year to increase transparency for the agency. These new policies include more oversight over travel and use of state vehicles, the acceptable use of court information systems, and purchasing cards to track fixed court assets.
“We see this presentation as the beginning of the partnership between the judiciary and the legislative body of this state,” Walker said. “We want the public to be confident that we’re being transparent and straight-forward.”
A lot of the delegates’ questions focused on the possibility of an intermediate court in West Virginia. The current budget doesn’t account for the existence of one. Senate Bill 2, a major piece of legislation for this session, would create an Intermediate Appellate Court for the state. This would help to alleviate the case load on the existing state courts.
Although West Virginia Supreme Court has not taken an official position on the proposed bill, Walker briefly addressed the subject in the budget hearing.
“The state constitution has vested the power within this body of government to decide if this is what’s best for the state,” Walker said. “We do want to be a part of the conversation if it does pass.”
A major concern for the West Virginia Supreme Court is the alarming increase of abuse and neglect cases that their court sees. Walker stated that out of the 937 cases filed in the past year, the vast majority of those were domestic abuse and neglect case. She said that these cases have increased 54 percent in the state of West Virginia in the past year. Walker said the Supreme Court was assisting the state courts who hear these cases by providing continuing education for their employees and administrative support for difficult cases that they may face.
Walker concluded the presentation and maintained that the justices, which were all present during the committee meeting, are committed to transparency and cooperation with the legislature.
Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, proceeded to address “the elephant in the room.”
“The elephant in the room is that we impeached essentially an entire branch of government last year,” Sponaugle said. “That being said, I greatly appreciate the transparency efforts that you all have made by presenting this. It’s great that you’re going to be working with us.”
Walker addressed this by pointing to an allegorical storm.
“After a storm, you have to figure out how to repair. We’ve assessed the damage, and now we are committed to those repairs,” Walker said.
The Senate Finance Committee agreed to add a committee substitute for the committee substitute for Senate Bill 1, 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan 17.
During the committee, the bill was reviewed and highly discussed between Senators. One in particular, Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, showed concern over Senate Bill 1, which would increase access to career education and workforce training through Associate’s Degrees at community and technical colleges.
“We’ve got a relatively fragile higher education system in West Virginia,” Prezioso said. “We have so many students that have the opportunity to choose education from several different sources of higher education. As we pit one group against the other we’re not exactly enhancing students. It seems as though we’re taking students that intend to go one and we’re dividing them.”
Sarah Armstrong Tucker, chancellor of Community Technical College Systems, assured the committee that the bill isn’t intended to divide students but help create easier pathways for students.
“This is an attempt to make pathways for more open for students so they could potentially start at a community college,” Tucker said.
Prezioso addressed the Chancellor and asked if the committee could potentially amend the bill to apply it to Associate’s Degrees at four year colleges in addition to two year college and technical programs.
Tucker said she and her peers would be more than happy if the committee amended the current bill, but was concerned that including regional schools would put too much strain on the bill. Tucker explained that the bill was also introduced last year with the inclusion of four year regional programs and said that was one of the reasons why the bill didn’t pass.
The current fiscal note on the bill stands at $7,677,294.
Tucker also explained that a similar proposal was recently put into place in Tennessee where higher education system saw a four percent increase in community college enrollment. She said that although many people believe this bill would mainly affect students who are currently enrolled in a four-year program, she said the bill could also encourage more people to start a two-year program.
“We need to acknowledge that 55 percent of the state’s recent high school graduates are said to not be going anywhere,” Tucker told the committee. “I think this bill could help us target people who had no other plan. It’s vital that we don’t leave those people out of the conversation.”
Amy Willard, executive director of the Office of School Finance at the West Virginia Department of Education, updated the Senate Education Committee on the current school funding formula, 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.
Willard addressed the committee and explained that 11 of the state’s 55 school districts currently have less than a 14,000 net enrollment rate for the 2018-2019 school year which classifies the counties as having “low enrollment.”
According to Willard, a large portion of the education funding is based on enrollment and full-time equivalence, also known as FTE, and calculated through a 10 step system. These seven steps review professional educators, service personal, fixed charges, transportation, student support personnel and other current expenses, and recieves the majority of the funding.
The committee learned that the fiscal year 2020 budget was calculated from the Department of Education’s spending in 2018. Willard explained that the budget is calculated though a year lag system where the budget is derived from spending made the previous year.
In total, Willard said that the department’s budget request is set at $1,124,000 for fiscal year 2020.
“Despite an increase in in enrollment pay, a drop in student enrollment in the state did account for a drop in the proposed budget for the upcoming year,” Willard said.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources convened at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 in 215-E to consider three pieces of legislation.
House Bill 2405 was the first bill on the agenda, which passed the House of Delegates unanimously last year. This bill would impose a tax on health management organizations in order to maximize Medicaid dollars within the state.
House Bill 2405 was approved unanimously within the committee, and advanced to the House Floor with the recommendation that it pass but first go to the House Finance Committee for second reference.
The committee then revisited a bill that had been previously laid over, House Bill 2347. This bill would require the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to modernize or rebuild two West Virginia state hospitals, Jackie Withrow and Hopemont hospitals. These hospitals, which are primarily used to long term care for elderly and substance abuse patients, are both nearly a century old.
Amendments were discussed at length amongst the committee.
Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha), proposed an amendment to the bill that would require the Secretary of the West Virginia DHHR to modernize or rebuild the two state hospitals, and then if the state were to choose to contract those facilities out, an institution of higher education within the state (likely Marshall or West Virginia University) would have the right of first refusal. Robinson argued that this amendment was to ensure that innovative treatment for substance abuse victims and long term patients would still be progressed even if the secretary chose to sell the facilities.
Delegate Amy Summers (R-Taylor) stood in opposition to the amendment, arguing that giving institutions of higher education the right of first refusal added unnecessary bureaucracy to the process.
Robinson’s amendment to the bill failed.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia) also proposed an amendment to House Bill 2347, for the sake of clarity.
The amendment would maintain the amount of beds currently present at Jackie Withrow and Hopemont hospitals (198 and 89 beds respectively) instead of adding to that count. It also clarifies that these beds are to be used for long term care patients.
Fleischauer’s amendment passed through the committee unanimously. As amended, the bill advanced to the House Floor with the recommendation that it should pass, but first go to the House Finance Committee for second reference.
Finally, House Bill 2324 was considered by the committee. This bill, if passed, would allow for the state acupuncture board to issue certificates to those who wish to become certified in the practice of acudetox therapy. This form of acupuncture, which releases toxins from the ear, would be available for health professionals other than those who practice acupuncture to become certified. It is argued to be beneficial to individuals who are experiencing the physical effects of drug withdrawal, as well as patients seeking therapeutic relief.
House Bill 2324 was advanced to the House Floor with the recommendation that it do pass, but it first gets a second reference from the House Committee on Government Organization.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met Thursday afternoon to discuss crimes at the state Capitol Complex.
Senate Bill 18 proposes an amendment to the current West Virginia code having a concealed carry on Capitol grounds. The bill would allow people to keep a handgun in their motor vehicle that is parked on Capitol property without requiring them have a valid concealed handgun license.
The Committee voted unanimously to approve the bill, and was reported to the Senate to be voted upon.
The Committee for Seniors, Children, and Family advanced a bill that seeks to update foster care regulations. This bill addresses multiple issues currently affecting the foster care crisis in the state such as getting appropriate help for children’s mental health and how proceedings should be dealt with children moving from different states. This bill would also affect the amount of safety checks done for foster homes.
In Thursday’s meeting, the committee took up House Bill 2010. The committee discussed the bill in depth and advanced the bill. House Bill 2010 also is referenced to the Health and Human Resources and the Judiciary committees.
The committee also heard from Jennifer Taylor, staff attorney for West Virginia Legal Aid. Taylor spoke to lawmakers about senior issues.
One major issue Legal Aid has seen is an increase in cases relating to undue influence. This is an influence where a person is induced to act otherwise than by their own free will or without adequate attention to the consequences. This can be done to a senior who is completely capacitated and of sound mind. West Virginia Legal Aid would like to work with lawmakers further to help this problem and how it is addressed in court cases.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources met Thursday afternoon to discuss four bills.
Senate Bill 63 relates to partial filling of prescription drugs. The bill would update West Virginia code to be complacent with the federal code. The bill would allow a pharmacist to partially fill a prescription, and provides new regulations on how to refill the rest of the remaining prescription.
Senate Bill 136 would add electronic cigarettes (E-Cigs) to the same list as other tobacco products that are prohibited on public school property. The bill would also increase the penalty for anyone who would violate carrying tobacco products on public school property.
Senate Bill 169 relates to minor rule changing to assisted living residencies.
Senate Bill 310 relates to health insurance companies and dentists. The bill would prohibit insurers from requiring dentists to provide discount on non-covered services, and prohibit dentists from charging more for covered persons on non-covered services.
All four bills were passed by the Committee. Senate Bill 63, 136, and 169 were referred to the Committee on Judiciary. Senate Bill 310 was referred to the Committee on Finance.
HouseBill 2183The House of Delegates convened at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 in the House Chamber to consider legislation.
Several bills were introduced in the House and referred to the appropriate committee on this day. Of these bills includes House Bill 2010, which works to reform foster care regulation in the state. This strike and insert legislation would change a lot of the jurisdiction over the state foster care system to be under the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation rather than the Division of Juvenile Services. This bill was referred to the House Committee on Senior, Children, and Family Issues.
Several bills reached third reading in the House.
House Bill 2028, which would require state engineers to observe the laying of road lines periodically instead of throughout the duration of the project, passed through the House unanimously.
The committee substitute for House Bill 2038 generated a lot of conversation on its third reading. This bill, if passed, would not require the regulation of an occupation if it isn’t regulated in 25 or more states.
Delegate Andrew Robinson (D-Kanawha), stood in opposition against the bill, arguing that the process for licensure is meant to protect the public and any legislation working to reduce oversight could be harmful.
Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral), one of the lead sponsors of the bill, argued that the legislation would not directly remove any occupational licensing requirements until they go through additional legislative preclearance.
“There’s no removal of licenses,” Howell said. “It just provides another step for review.”
House Bill 2038 passed through the House after lengthy discussion.
House Bill 2128, which would allow state employees to take paid leave to attend parent-teacher conferences, passed through the House unanimously.
Another House Bill that raised controversy was HouseBill 2183, which would allow for intoxicated individuals to operate a motor vehicle on their personal property without being subject to a DUI.
Delegate John Shott (R-Mercer), an advocate for this legislation, clarified that West Virginia citizens should have the right to do what they want on their personal property, as long as it causes no injury or death. He clarifies that if somebody is operating a motor vehicle on their property and it does cause injury or death, they would then be subject to a DUI charge.
The bill generated lengthy discussion regarding the definition of “private property” and if private roads and large clearings are included under that operational definition. Because of the function of this definition, several delegates were “uncomfortable” with voting through the House Bill.
Despite this, House Bill 2183 passed almost unanimously.
Bills on second reading included a piece of strike and insert legislation regarding animals in motor vehicles, House Bill 2185. This bill would allow agents acting at their official capacity to break into an enclosed motor vehicle to rescue animals that they believe are in danger.
The House Committee on Judiciary proposed to add language to the bill that would further protect the professionals who are permitted to enter these vehicles. This amendment passed.
House Bill 2307, which would create provisional licenses for cosmetologists and barbers throughout the state, also advanced without any proposed amendments.
Bills on first reading were all referred to their appropriate committees.
The House of Delegates will reconvene at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Friday Jan. 18, in the House Chamber.
Committees Meeting Today After 11am:
The House Committee on Senior, Children, and Family Issues will meet at 1 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan 17, in 215-E.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources will meet at 2 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan 17, in 215-E.
The House Committee on Energy will meet at 2 p.m today, Thursday Jan. 17, in 410M.
The House Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse will meet at 3:30 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 17, in 215-E.
Committees Meeting Tomorrow Before 11am:
The House Committee on Education will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 18, in 434-M.
The House Committee on Finance will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 18, in 460M for a presentation on the West Virginia Supreme Court’s budget.
The House Committee on Government Organization will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 18, in 215-E.
The House Committee on the Judiciary will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 18, in 410-M.
The Senate convened on Thursday to adopt Senate Resolution Ten, which honored the Ritchie County High School Boys Cross Country Team for winning the A-AA State Championship.
This was Ritchie County’s first Boys XC State Championship. The team had a stellar year finishing first place in the Little Kanawha Conference, Region One Meet, and in the State Championship. The runners and coaching staff were presented the Resolution on the Senate Floor.
The House of Delegates reported two bills to the Senate.
House Bill 2164 relates to clarifying that appeals to the Supreme Court are a matter of right, and that every party has an opportunity to be heard and to obtain a written decision on the merits of the appeal.
House Bill 2351 relates to streaming PEIA authorization of documents.
Bills 338 to 342 were introduced today as well.
The following committees will meet today:
Health at 1 p.m. in 451M
Energy, Industry & Mining at 1 p.m. in 208W
Education at 2 p.m. in 451M
Gov. Org. at 2 p.m. in 208W
Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M
Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W
The following committee will meet tomorrow:
Agriculture at 12:30 p.m. in 208W