Judiciary Committee reviews House Bill 3039 which relates to a courts consideration of the expression of a preference by a child in certain child custody matters.
The bill expands the courts consideration of the expression of a preference by children in certain child custody mattes by removing language giving priority to preferences of 14 year old children. Currently, when making a decision about the allocation of custodial responsibility, a factor to be considered is to accommodate the firm and reasonable preferences of a child who is 14 years of age or older and with regard to a child younger than 14, the child must be sufficiently matured that he or she can intelligently express a voluntary preference for one parent. The bill was reported to the house.
Senate Bill 361 relates generally to Public Defender Services. This bill is actually a hybrid bill that also encompasses Senate Bill 103. The bill seeks to authorize Public Defender Services to establish and operate a habeas division. The bill was reported to the house, but will be referred to the Finance committee.
House Bill 2975 relates to the imposition of sexual acts on persons incarcerated. The bill includes employees and contract employees of a day report center to those prohibited from engaging in sexual acts with those persons under their supervision. Currently, it is a felony for a parole officer employed by the Division of Corrections and an adult or juvenile probation officer employed by the WV Supreme Court to engage in sexual intercourse, sexual intrusion or sexual contact with a person the officer is charged with supervising. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2901 allows for the establishment of a secondary location for racetrack video lottery terminals. The purpose of this bill is to allow a licensed racetrack to establish a secondary location for racetrack video lottery terminals and racetrack table games at a location within the county as approved by the lottery commission. The bill will be reported to the House, but will be referred to the Finance committee.
House Bill 2980 is the Mine Trespass Act. The purpose of this bill is to create the Mine Trespass Act and establish misdemeanor and felony offenses for the trespass. The bill sets out findings and creates a new offense of mine trespass. The first offense is a misdemeanor, and subsequent offenses are felonies with increasing penalties. Certified coal miners who commit the act lose their license upon conviction.
Additional graduated penalties are provided for persons who commit the offense and cause the injury or death of others. The bill provides a hold harmless clause providing no person or entity may be held liable for the death of a trespasser, and provides there is no responsibility to effect a rescue in hazardous conditions. Finally, the bill relieves mine owners and rescuers of liability for environmental regulation violations occurring from rescue efforts. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2933 modifies the criminal penalties imposed on a parent, guardian or custodian for child abuse resulting in injury. This bill increases the penalty for abuse resulting in bodily or serious bodily injury; removes the crime of “abuse or neglect causing substantial risk of bodily injury”; and provides for enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses of “abuse causing substantial risk of serious bodily injury”; milder penalties for repeat offenses of “neglect causing substantial risk of serious bodily injury.” The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2907 requires a form of a certified commitment order to the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The bill seeks to amend the commitment order for felons to reflect the accurate distribution of costs and to create a form order for the commitment of convicted misdemeanants to the custody of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2872 authorizes law-enforcement officers to assist the State Fire Marshal. This bill authorizes any state police officer, natural resources police officer, or any county or municipal law-enforcement officer to assist the State Fire Marshal or any of his or her employees authorized to enforce the provisions of this section in any duties for which the State Fire Marshal has jurisdiction. Additionally, it provides for the authorization of the state fire marshal, any full time deputy fire marshal, or any full-time assistant fire marshal employed by the state fire marshal to carry a firearm in the course of official duties. The bill will be reported to the House.
Senate Bill 387 relates generally to extradition. This bill authorizes the Governor seek return of fugitives found in other states or District of Columbia. The bill will be reported to the House.
Senate Bill 373 relates to financial responsibility of inmates. The purpose of this bill is to allow the Division of Corrections to withhold monies received by inmates form court judgments and civil settlements even if an awarding court fails to deduct such obligates monies form the initial award. The bill also includes settlements as well as judgments. The bill will be reported to the House.
Senate Bill 358 relates to exempting purchasing division purchases for equipment to maintain security at state facilities. The purpose of this bill is provide the DPS (a division of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMAPS)) a limited exemption from the requirement to purchase goods through the Purchasing Division of the Department of Administration. The exemption would apply only to “equipment necessary to maintain security at the Capitol Complex and other state facilities” as may be determined by the Secretary of DMAPS. The bill will be reported to the House.
Senate Bill 356 authorizes Division of Corrections and rehabilitation to release certain information to county prosecutors and US attorneys. The purpose of this bill is to require the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to release certain information to county prosecutors of this state and United States Attorneys which are required for the prosecution of a criminal action. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 3083 adds temporary work during the legislative session as exclusion to the term employment for purposes of unemployment compensation. This bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2931, clarifying that the State Lottery Commission has no authority over non lottery games was appointed to a subcommittee due to much confusion over the bill.
House Bill 2966 is the County Budget Flexibility Act. This bill authorizes county commissions to create a Future Needs Fund for the purpose of depositing unused moneys at the end of a fiscal year. The bill provides that funds deposited into a Future Needs Fund may only be used for purposes otherwise permitted in code during the next fiscal year or future fiscal years. The bill will be reported to the House.
Senate Bill 270, streamlining process for utilities access to DOH rights-of-way. This is a follow up to the broadband bills passed last year, Senate Bill 445 and House Bill 4447. After their passage last year there have been many interested stakeholders in broadband and the rights of way. There was then a determination by the governor to not charge companies so that our main focus can just be on the expansion of broadband. The bill will be reported to the House.
The House of Delegates convened today and passed House Bill 2538. This bill provides banking services for medical cannabis.
Other bills passed on third reading;
· House Bill 2472 provides a special license plate for pollinators.
· House Bill 2579 relates to the collection of tax and the priority of distribution of an estate of property in receivership.
· House Bill 2618 includes undue influence as a factor in the definition of financial exploitation of an elderly or protected person.
· House Bill 2716 relates to motorboat lighting and equipment requirements
· House Bill 2846 designates a “back to blue” plate in support of law enforcement personnel
· House Bill 2992 relates to governmental websites
All bills on second and first reading were advanced with the exception of Senate Bill 377, which was postponed for one day.
The House of Delegates will reconvene Monday, February 18 at 11 a.m.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Friday afternoon for a brief meeting to discuss three Senate bills and one House bill on the agenda.
House Bill 2030 would authorize the Division of Corrections (DOC) and the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to create a valid West Virginia identification card for inmates in DOC facilities. The DOC would be required to ensure that each inmate has a proper identification card upon release, and the cards would expire 90 days after being released.
Senate Bill 340 would repeal article 20E of the insurance code, which created the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Insurance Joint Underwriting Association Act. It would also repeal article 20F of the insurance code, which created the Physicians' Mutual Insurance Company Act.
Senate Bill 402 would designate the Division of Forestry as the primary agency for the collection, preparation and central registry of information relating to timber theft. Anyone who would willingly cut and steal timber worth less than $1,000 would be convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to more than 30 days incarcerated and/or a $1,000 dollar fine. If the timber is worth more than $1,000, the person would be convicted of a felony and subject to one to three years incarcerated and/or fined three times the value of the timber.
Senate Bill 510 would amend the prerequisites for filing a medical professional liability claim. The bill would require that the 30-day notice for filing a claim include specified information about any agents, servants, employees or officers of the health care provider who would be named in the potential suit.
The Committee approved all fours bills, and will be reported to the full Senate on Monday to be voted upon.
The Senate is set receive a message concerning Senate Bill 451 during Monday’s floor session.
President of the Senate, Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, announced the anticipated arrival of the message following Thursday’s passage from the House of Delegates. If passed, the legislation would result in comprehensive education reform to the state.
Following announcement of the message, eight pieces of legislation were brought before the body. Of the proposed bills, Senate Bill 60 sparked debate between members of the body. Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, opened discussion of the bill which would license the practice of athletic trainers.
Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, expressed concerns over the legislation allowing for athletic trainers to assists in occupational injuries. The Senator said he feared athletic trainers may be ill equipped in addressing occupational injuries and asked why occupational therapists weren’t included in the bill.
Tarr addressed Romano and explained that the bill states that athletic trainers would be allowed to assist in all injuries as long as they consult with another health professional concerning the injury. He also explained the difference between occupational therapists and athletic trainers to better illustrate how trainers would be better equipped in addressing work injuries.
Lead sponsor of the bill, Sen. Richard Plymale, D-Wayne, rose in support of the legislation by stating that the bill was a “long time coming.” He also explained that many businesses currently hire athletic trainers to assists with injuries.
Following debate, the bill was unanimously passed by the body.
Of the eight bills on second reading, only one received an amendment. Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, rose to explain the amendment which strikes a section of House Bill 2481, a bill which would permit the retail sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays after 1 p.m.
Also passed by the Senate were Senate Resolution 46, which designated Feb. 15, 2019 as Corrections Day, and Senate Resolution 47, which congratulated Spring Valley High School’s volleyball for winning the 2018 Class AAA State Volleyball Championship. A number of guests joined the body in celebrating passage of the two resolutions.
The following committees will meet today:
The House Committee on Government Organization convened for the first part of their meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, February 15, in 215-E. The committee had a consideration of multiple bills during this meeting, and advanced four bills to the House floor for consideration.
House Bill 2924 is a bill that would to permit the West Virginia Tourism Office to contract with the Division of Highways to sell advertising space on the WV511 website to promote in state tourism and raise capital for technological improvements to the website. 50 percent of the advertising dollars generated under this bill would be deposited in the Tourism Promotion Fund and 50 percent would be remitted to the Division of Highways.
This bill was passed unanimously by the committee and advanced to the House floor with the recommendation that it should pass.
House Bill 2929 was also advanced to the House floor. This bill would also pertain to a collaboration between the WV Tourism Office and the Division of Highways. House Bill 2929 would authorize an agreement between the two organizations in which staff would be provided at the WV Welcome Centers and rest areas, and displays promoting tourism would be created at these welcome centers and rest areas.
House Bill 2982 is a bill concerning auctioneers in the state of West Virginia. It provides updates for the licensure requirements, provides for exemptions to licensure, requires auctioneers to submit to background checks, and provides penalties for unlicensed auctioneers. This bill was also passed and advanced to the House floor.
House Bill 3007 was also advanced, a bill to authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to require background checks within their hiring process.
House Bill 3016 would outline the code that pertains to the State Aeronautics Commission. This bill was advanced to the House Finance Committee for second reference.
House Bill 3093 is a bill that would require the same building code standards to be applied to manufactured housing as are applied to other housing. This bill was unanimously advanced to the House floor with the recommendation that it pass.
House Bill 2654 was taken off the agenda on this day.
House Bill 2886, a bill to require counties with a population of 25,000 or more to have a DMV Office and counties with a population of less that 25,000 to have DMV kiosks. The bill was amended by Delegate John Hott, R-Grant, Delegate Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming, and Delegate Terri Sypolt, R-Preston, to remove language in the bill that would close three DMV offices throughout the state.
With amendment, House Bill 2886 was advanced to the House floor with the recommendation that it pass.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met yesterday afternoon to discuss and debate in great detail over litigation financing.
A litigation financing transaction is a non-recourse transaction in which financing by a third-party, who is unrelated to the case, is provided to a consumer in return for a consumer assigning to the litigation financier a contingent right to receive an amount of the potential proceeds of the consumer’s judgment, award, settlement, or verdict obtained with respect to the consumer’s legal claim.
Senate Bill 360 would add regulations to this type of business in West Virginia. The proposed regulations with this legislation would include:
Committee members heard testimonies from insurance agencies, the West Virginia Association for Justice, and local attorneys who were all in favor of passage of the bill. Senators expressed most concerns over the 18 percent rate, and if that requirement was too low or too high. After hearing the testimonies, the members agreed that the original 19 percent was a fair rate for both the litigation financiers and the consumers.
The Committee also discussed Senate Bill 601 which would authorize the Division of Corrections to release inmates 180 days prior to his or her discharge date if they have not been released on parole. Inmates may be placed on electronic monitoring during the period of supervision. This bill was proposed in result over overcrowded prisons throughout the state.
The Committee approved both bills unanimously, and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
Legislation relating to federal funds for land-grant institutions came before the Senate Finance Committee following Tuesday’s review from the Education Committee.
Senate Bill 553, which intends to donate funding to two of the state’s universities, was brought before finance committee members to be considered. The proposed legislation would donate $1.4 million to West Virginia State University to match funding supplied by federal land-grants.
President of the university, Anthony Jenkins, came before the education committee on Tuesday to urge passage of the bill to ultimately spread the universities positivities impacts on the state.
Following consideration, the bill was reported to the full Senate with the recommendation to pass.
Members also reviewed a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Veteran's Assistance. According to the Cabinet Secretary of the department, Dennis Davis, House Bill 2666 would address $5 million of unpaid bills accumulated by the VA.
Davis explained that the department has implemented a corrective action plan intended to address the debt and prevent further loss of funding.
Three pieces of legislation were reported to the full Senate by the Health and Human Resources Committee, 1 p.m. Thursday.
Of the proposed bills, two were from the Senate and two were from the House of Delegates.
Review of Senate Bill 86, a bill which would require county boards to provide free feminine hygiene products to female students, opened discussion between committee members. Council led members in reviewing a committee substitute of the proposed legislation which calls for county boards to supply feminine hygiene products to girls in grades 6 through 12. The introduced bill called for counties to provide free products to all girls in the selected grades range but was altered to only supply products to students with financial need.
According to council, the legislation was created following representatives in Monongalia county noticing that an inability to purchase feminine hygiene products directly effected the attendance of female students in grades 6 through 12.
Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, expressed concern over the bill’s potential impact on county school boards following implementation. Currently, the bill has no fiscal note because it would require county school boards to cover the total cost of the program.
Rucker stated that although she supported the bill, she didn’t like that it’s an unfunded mandate for a program which some schools may already have in place.
Committee chair, Sen. Michael Maroney, R-Marshall, addressed Rucker and explained that although the bill has a unfunded mandate, the Senate Finance chair and multiple country boards were contacted during the drafting of the legislation and said they were okay with county school boards covering the costs.
Members voted to agree to the committee substitute and report the bill to the full Senate with the recommendation that it shall pass.
Senate Bill 300, relating to adoption records, also came before the committee and sparked debate. According to council, the proposed legislation would require multiple health records to be completed and uploaded online prior to the adoption of a child.
Gary Thompson, director of the Health Statistics Center at the Department of Heath and Human Resources, came before members to discuss the objectives of the legislation, and stated that although the service would be voluntary, he expected that 2,000 cases would be reported online within the first year.
Thompson also explained that two jobs would be added to the DHHR in order to keep up with the projected high volume of cases within the first few years.
Following discussion, Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, moved to add a conceptional amendment which would require the DHHR to report the total volume of cases to the state every three years. The Senator attributed the amendment to a fear that too many positions would be present in the DHHR following passage of the bill.
Overall, members moved to incorporate the amendment into a committee substitute which has been reported to the full Senate.
The committee on small business, entrepreneurship, and economic development passed House Bill 2887 which establishes a West Virginia growth in low income communities tax credit.
This bill provides a $36 million insurance premium tax credit for investment into impoverished zones. Qualified areas include areas with a poverty rate over 20 percent or median family income below 80 percent of e metropolitan median family income. The bill will be reported to the House, but will be referred the Finance committee.
House Bill 2943 relates to deliveries by wine specialty shops. This bill allows wine specialty shops to deliver within their county (or within 50 miles of the shop’s location, if the delivery is out of county without a shippers license.) The bill requires conspicuous packaging and proof that the purchase was made by an individual 21 years of age or older. Finally, the purchase must be made at the shop and delivered by an employee of the shop.
The bill will be reported to the House, but will be referred to the Judiciary committee.
Senate Bill 106 alleviates double taxation on foreign income at state level. Under current law, a West Virginia resident is permitted a tax credit on their personal income in the amount of any income tax imposed by another state. However, taxes paid to a foreign country are not provided a similar tax credit. This bill provides one. The bill will be reported to the House, but will be referred to the Finance committee.
House Bill 2724 relates to Small Business Tax Credit. This bill provides a tax credit to small businesses headquartered in West Virginia with fewer than 25 employees. The amount of the tax credit is 50 percent the costs of branding, marketing and advertising of agricultural or manufactured products produced or manufactured in West Virginia. The credit is capped at $10,000.00 per year and is available for 5 years. The bill will be reported to the House, but will be referred to the Finance committee.
The House of Delegates convened at 11a.m on the 37th day of the regular session of the 84th West Virginia Legislature to consider a number of bills on third reading, including the highly debated Senate Bill 451, a bill to reform public education in West Virginia.
The House of Delegates passed the strike-and-insert amendment to Senate Bill 451, which includes several comprehensive provisions to amend public education policy within the state. The amendment would set uniform levy rates for county boards in the state, offer an open enrollment policy for student transfer eligibility, and cap the amount of charter schools allowed in the state at 2. The strike-and-insert amendment would also replenish funding for WV innovation zones by $5 million, include social workers and psychologists within public K-12 schools, eliminate educational savings accounts completely, and provide for one law enforcement officer per WV school. There would also be financial incentive for math and science teachers in the state, and a 5 percent pay raise for teachers.
Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkley, provided the House of Delegates with a fiscal note of $202,570,438 for the gross cost of all of the provisions included within the accepted version of Senate Bill 451.
Discussion ensued over whether or not the updated version of Senate Bill 451 was worth passing.
Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, argued that the input of teachers wasn’t valued enough in the creation of Senate Bill 451, and that the Senate would make significant changes to whatever the House passed.
“I’m not taking the bait here,” Fluharty said. “Senate is going to reject this if it goes through, we are going to go into conference committee, and we’re going to get stuck with a pile of garbage. I’ve seen it before.”
Other delegates were concerned about the constitutionality of the bill as it pertains to the Single Object Rule in the state constitution. This rule provides that there should be one idea per piece of legislation to prevent political log-rolling.
Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, was one of these delegates.
“The means don’t always justify the ends,” McGeehan said. “If you take your oath of office seriously and measure the morality of the situation, this isn’t right.”
While major concerns regarding the passage of Senate Bill 451 were vocalized, a lot of support for the bill was as well.
Delegate Matt Rohrbach, R- Cabell, was impressed with the House of Delegates’ ability to compromise and create a bipartisan bill after the 11 hour House floor session yesterday.
“We listened to our constituents, we listened to the stakeholders, and most importantly, we compromised.” Rohrbach said.
Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, spoke on the confidence that he had in voting “yes” on Senate Bill 451, even if the bill does to conference committee.
“I trust the Speaker to hold the House’s position in confidence,” Sponaugle said.
In the end, the House strike-and-insert amendment proposed to Senate Bill 451 prevailed in a 71-29 vote.
House Bill 2338, a bill that would exempt antique military vehicles from using certain registration insignia that covers the original markings of the vehicle, was passed unanimously by the House.
Another House Bill that was passed unanimously was House Bill 2359, a bill that would exempt commercial motor vehicle operators employed with a farm related service industry from the commercial driver’s license requirements. West Virginia citizens employed in the fields of agrichemical business, harvesting, livestock feeding, and other applicable careers would be exempt from getting a commercial driver’s license for a limited time.
House Bill 2673 was passed after little debate. This bill would create the Oil and Gas Abandoned Well Plugging Fund, which would create a tax exemption from certain gas wells in the state and provide funds for the WV Environmental Protection Agency to plug more orphaned wells.
To bills regarding hunting in the state of West Virginia were passed on this day: House Bill 2709 is a bill that mandates that information given to the Department of Natural Resources for hunting licenses are not subject to discovery with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. House Bill 2715 would create a specialized Class Q hunting permit for disabled persons.
House Bill 2739 was passed on this day. This bill was passed by both chambers in the previous year, but did not complete legislative action in time. This bill would make it a criminal offense for any participating public employer of any retirement system administered by the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to fail to make required contributions.
House Bill 2743 made technical updates to code regarding pension funds. This bill would delete a reference to municipal policemen’s pension or municipal firefighter’s pension as restrictions on pensions funds are contained in another section. This bill was passed unanimously by the House.
House Bill 2761 would modernize the self-storage lien law. The bill clarifies what rights owners have, what dates would be made effective after July 1, 2019, among other technical code changes. This bill unanimously passed through the House.
House Bill 2793 would expand the applicability of educational facilities that are eligible for consideration under the West Virginia Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program. Currently in code, only institutions of higher education are included. This bill would also include certain private K-12 state institutions to be included in the program.
House Bill 2821 would make a financial adjustment within the institution of the national guard. This bill would clarify the recipient of command and clerical pay and to allow for an appropriate annual adjustment.
House Bill 2848 relates to the WV ABLE Act. This bill would raise the age requirement for eligibility from 21 to 26, thus matching the federal ABLE act. It also clarifies that family members and attorneys are permitted to manage a beneficiary’s ABLE account.
Consideration of amendments for Senate Bill 377 was postponed for one day.
All bills on first reading were advanced.
The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, February 15.
Committees Meeting After Floor Session Today:
The House Committee on Seniors, Children, and Family Issues will convene 15 minutes after the House floor session in 215-E.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources will meet at 3:15 p.m. in 215-E.
The House Committee on Energy will meet at 3:15 p.m. in 418-M.
The House Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse will meet at 4 p.m. in 215-E.
The House Committee on Political Subdivisions will meet at 4 p.m. in 432-M.
The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security will meet at 5:30 p.m. in 432-M.
Committees Meeting Before Floor Session Tomorrow:
The House Committee on Education will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow in 432-M.
The House Committee on Finance will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow in 460-M.
The House Committee on Government Organization will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow in 215-E.
The House Committee on the Judiciary will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow in 418-M.
The Senate Committee on Government Organization met Thursday afternoon to discuss thre bills on the agenda.
Most of the discussion revolved around Senate Bill 326 which would reorganize state agencies involved with emergency and disaster planning. The legislation includes many moving parts,one piece of which would create a state wide effort to demolish old and dilapidated buildings deemed unusable. There is an estimated 50,000 + buildings (commercial and private) that would be demolished if this bill becomes a statute. The Committee approved the bill unanimously, and made a motion to have the double committee reference to Finance waved.
Senate Bill 580 is closely related to the Municipal Home Rule Program and would allow counties to implement a one percent consumer sales tax in certain circumstances. Blair Couch, Commissioner of Wood County, provided testimony about the positive impacts of the 1 percent tax within his three municipalities. In Parkersburg, the annual revue jumped from $26 million to $34 million from the one percent tax. The Committee passed the bill, and referred it to the Committee on Finance.
House Bill 2324 would authorize the West Virginia Acupuncture Board to issue certification for performing auricular acudetox therapy, which would treat substance abuse, alcoholism, chemical dependency, detoxification, behavioral therapy or trauma recovery. The proposed legislation was approved by the Committee and will be reported to the full Senate.
The Senate convened Thursday morning to discuss two bills that were on third reading.
Senate Bill 339 would allow people 16 years of age or older to possess pepper spray on the Capitol Complex for self-defense purposes. The bill would also allow the Director of Protective Services to temporarily prohibit the possession of pepper spray during designated special events on campus.
Senate Bill 74 would exempt people who volunteer their time or services, without wages, for a ski area operator or for a ski area sponsored program from workers’ compensation coverage, notwithstanding that the people may receive noncash remunerations.
Senate bills 605 to 616 were also introduced.
The Senate also adopted three Resolutions.
The Senate also adopted Senate Resolution 45 which recognized the Cabell Midland High School Marching Knight Band for being reigning state marching band champions for the past seven years.
The Senate is adjourned until tomorrow, Feb. 14 at 11 a.m.
The following committees will meet today:
Health at 1 p.m. in 451M
Energy 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:
Transportation at 10 a.m. in 451M
The House of Delegates adopted a strike and insert amendment that became the new education reform act bill. After nearly 12 hours of debate the House moved to adopt the strike and insert amendment as amended which became the official bill, Senate Bill 451. The bill has been moved to third reading and will be voted on the floor February 14.
House Committees Meeting:
Small Business, Entrepenuership, and Economic Developement 9 a.m.
Banking and Insurance 10 a.m.
Rules 10:45 a.m.
Other committee meetings scheduled for the evening may be subject to change.
As of 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13, the House of Delegates continues their work on the second reading of Senate Bill 451.
The House of Delegates has considered and passed a number of secondary amendments to the strike-and-insert amendment to Senate Bill 451, which was passed out of the House Education Committee last week.
One of these amendments was an amendment proposed by Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson; Tom Bibby, R-Berkley; Delegate Daryl Cowles, R- Morgan; and Delegate S. Marshall Wilson, R-Berkley, notated as HFA Espinosa et al 2-13 #2.
This amendment, which was overwhelmingly passed by the House, would allow school personnel to be suspended or dismissed if they are found by the Department of Health and Human Services to be abusive to students within public schools.
Delegate Mick Bates, D-Raleigh and a large number of Democratic delegates also drafted an amendment for consideration that would strike all of Senate Bill 451’s references to charter schools. HFA Bates et al 2-13 was tabled indefinitely until all other amendments addressing charter schools were considered.
Five amendments proposed by Delegate S. Marshall Wilson, R-Berkley, called for increasing the number of charter schools permitted in the state by significant amounts.
The strike-and-insert primary amendment passed out of the House Education Committee currently allows for 2 charter schools.
Wilson proposed multiple highly-contested amendments to increase the number of charter schools allowed to unlimited, one per county, 25 maximum charter schools allowed in the state, and 20 maximum charter schools allowed in the state.
Delegate Terry Waxman, R-Harrison, addressed the Delegates in voting for the Wilson secondary amendments.
“The allowance of charter schools in the state is permissive,” Waxman said. “It gives our parents the right to choose. This is for freedom. Think long and hard before pressing that red button, because you’re voting against freedom.”
All five of the proposed amendments to increase the number of charter schools permitted failed overwhelmingly.
Delegate Doug Skaff, D- Kanawha, defended the body’s opposition to charter schools.
“This body continues to speak loudly against charter schools,” Skaff said. “We have to put faith in our current system and fund it.”
Upon HFA Bates et al 2-13 being reconsidered after the consideration of other charter school amendments, the vote came incredibly close.
As a result of the roll call vote, charter school references remain in the bill indefinitely, in a close 49-45 vote.
The House of Delegates continues to have consideration of the proposed amendments to Senate Bill 451 as of 9:54 p.m., Wednesday, February 13. More updates to this bill are pending as the floor session continues.
The House of Delegates convened for an extended floor session at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The House passed seven bills on third reading, and is continuing to meet in the House Chamber in order to consider amendments to Senate Bill 451, a bill for comprehensive education reform.
The second reading of the omnibus education bill was moved to the foot of the House agenda for the day. The House’s amendment to the bill, a strike-and-insert amendment that currently features drastic changes from the Senate Bill 451 passed out of the Senate, was passed out of the House Education Committee last week and is subject to 35 possible secondary amendments from the Delegates.
Bills on third reading that passed out of the House of Delegates on this day include
Senate Bill 18, a bill to allow individuals legally possessing a firearm to have those firearms stored in a motor vehicle on State Capitol Complex property and/or to be carried outdoors on State Capitol Complex.
Senate Bill 61 is a bill that would add the crimes of first and second degree murder, first degree robbery, treason and participation in an organized criminal enterprise to the list of crimes that a state court may wiretap for.
Senate Bill 323 is a bill that would provide a mechanism to establish a special revenue fund for capital improvements to Department of Agriculture's facilities.
House Bill 2609 is a bill that would prevent unnecessary reporting and administrative costs when an individual makes a report of accounts and other property held by a financial organization. This would apply to active members of a state financial organization.
House Bill 2647 is a bill that would establish a limited lines insurance license to allow owners of self-service storage facilities to obtain a license to sell or offer self-service storage insurance coverage to occupants.
House Bill 2720 is a bill that would authorize first responders on duty to carry a firearm.
House Bill 2878 would add several specific narcotics to the list of state Schedule I drugs in order to match with the federal schedule.
House Bill 2468 was tabled during this floor session.
The second reading of Senate Bill 451 was taken up immediately upon finishing the day’s scheduled business. Several amendments were proposed and were rejected by the House.
An amendment by Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, was the first amendment to the strike-and-insert version of Senate Bill 451 to be accepted. The amendment would include public Advanced Placement, Dual Credit, and Baccalaureate programs under the umbrella of listed programs that would receive a foundation allowance to improve upon themselves under Senate Bill 451.
An additional amendment proposed by Delegate Doug Skaff, D- Kanawha, Delegate Eric Nelson R-Kanawha, and Delegate Ed Evans, D-McDowell (notated as HFA- Skaff, Evans, et al 2-13) was also adopted to the strike-and-insert amendment. This amendment would increase the amount of bonus a West Virginia K-12 teacher would receive if they complete the school year without missing four days. Instead of receiving a $500 bonus, they would receive a $1,000 bonus.
After lengthy consideration of an amendment proposed by Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, that ultimately failed after being reconsidered, the House recessed for twenty minutes. They reconvened at 2:39 p.m. to continue considering amendments.
An amendment proposed by Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, to introduce law enforcement officers to public K-12 schools was highly debated within the House on this day. This amendment, inspired by Sponaugle’s conversation with middle and high schoolers, would proportionally introduce a number of police officers into a school for security purposes according to the size of the district.
“A lot of these kids are worried sick about being shot in our schools,” Sponaugle said. “We need to prioritize security in this state, that’s what this amendment does.”
A lot of contested and passionate debate continued in the House regarding the importance of prioritizing the safety of West Virginia students, and how economically feasible the amendment’s mechanism was.
Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkley, rose in opposition. While Householder appreciated the merit that the amendment advocated for, he noted an astronomical fiscal note.
“When we use the formula in your amendment, getting these officers in the school could cost upwards of 125 million dollars. It stands to cost even more when we factor in how many officers each district would have to hire,” Householder said.
After extended discussion, Delegate S. Marshall Wilson, R- Berkley, made a motion to move to previous question. The motion carried.
Delegate Sponaugle asked the Speaker for permission to upload a revised version of his amendment, that would provide funding for one law enforcement officer per West Virginia school. He cited a fiscal note of 40.5 million dollars.
The amendment passed through the House overwhelmingly with the changes to the formula made.
Another secondary amendment made to the strike-and-insert was an amendment made be Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio. This amendment would allow students studying to be a music teacher in the state of West Virginia to be eligible for the Underwood Smith Teacher Scholars Program. This amendment was also passed.
The House continues to convene indefinitely to consider amendments to Senate Bill 451.
A piece of legislation which would shift funding from the Landfill Closure Assistance Fund to local solid waste authorities passed out of the Senate Finance Committee, Wednesday.
A committee substitute for Senate Bill 147 came before members after being laid over from a previous meeting. The revised version offered minor changes to the language of the bill and corrected code mistakes. Following review of the substitute, lengthy discussions over landfill closures sparked debate between Senators.
Director of the Division of Land Restoration at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Rob Rice, addressed committee members to explain how the fund aids in closing the state’s landfills. Rice stated that the fund can only be used in situations where a funding need is present, yet currently, the state has five sites which unable to be filled due to a lack of overall funding.
Closures of these areas must follow multiple requirements, the main being a hypersensitive synthetic cap being placed on top of the landfill and monitored for the next 30 years. The director said that a portion of the landfill funding goes toward repairs of the caps and raised concerns over how the department would be able to complete various tasks if faced with a reduction of fees.
The Landfill Closure Assistance Fund currently stands at $19.5 million and an additional $33 million would be required to close the remaining landfills. If passed, the proposed legislation would reduce the amount attributed to the fund to a total of $5 million annually.
Following discussion between the DEP and the committee, Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, cited the 30 year monitorship of the areas as a negative impact on funding and asked if a potential reduction of monitorship could possibly go towards strengthening funding.
Rice explained under current DEP law, once a site is deemed stable it is returned to its original entity.
“Our goal is to get all these landfills stable and then returned to their owners,” Rice said. “Our goal isn’t to sit on these things forever.”
Following adoption of a conceptual amendment by Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, the committee motioned to agree to the committee substitute for Senate Bill 147 and report the bill to the full Senate.
Members also reviewed an originating bill relating to property tax adjustments resulting from regular levies. Committee chair, Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, explained that the bill is being originated by the committee due to time management issues which prevented the legislation to be introduced at the beginning of the session. The bill was reported to the full Senate with the recommendation to pass.
An originating bill was passed out of the Senate Pensions Committee, 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Senate Pending Originating Bill 1 relates to to prepayment of municipalities monthly required contributions. The proposed legislation would create a minor change by allowing municipalities to prepay monthly required contributions.
Following the reading of the bill committee chair, Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, motioned to add Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, and Sen. William Ihlenfeld, D-Ohio as co-sponsors of the legislation.
The bill was unanimously reported to the the full Senate with the recommendation that it shall pass.
Also reported to the full Senate was Senate Bill 539, relating to accrued benefits of retirees in WV State Police Retirement System, Plan B, and Senate Bill 11, relating to retirement and pension benefits of certain PERS and Teachers Retirement System members who serve in Legislature.
Despite being on the agenda, Senate Bill 418 wasn’t brought before the committee.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held debates over Senate Bill 512, which would increase regulations on pawnshops, Wednesday afternoon.
The proposed legislation would require pawnshops to have video surveillance archived for minimum of 30 days. Many senators expressed concerns of this subsection of the bill. The original language had a minimum of 60 days, but Senator Boso proposed an amendment to drop the requirement to 30 days instead; which did pass.
After continued debate, the bill was passed by the Committee and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development discussed Senate Bill 383 Wednesday afternoon, which would create a new and innovative concept program for farmers throughout West Virginia.
The proposed bill would create the West Virginia Healthy Food Crop Block Grant Program. The program would provide an incentive of up to $10,000 per year to eligible West Virginia farmers who commit to growing fruits and vegetables that serve community health initiatives. The Program is meant for small independent farms throughout the state. If the legislation becomes law, this would be the first of its kind in the country.
The Committee approved the bill, which will be referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
The Committee also discussed Senate Bill 344 which relates to the operation of state-owned farms. The bill would clarify language already in code that state-owned farms are managed by the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.
The Committee approved the proposed bill, and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
A bill which would establish a specialized military court was unanimously passed by the Senate during Wednesday’s floor session.
Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, rose to discuss Senate Bill 40, potentially legislation which would establish a Military Service Members Court program similar to a program which was disbanded in 2017. According to the Senator, the bill would right the wrongful closure of the previous program due to a false statement which described a lack of funding for the program.
The court would work similarly to the state’s court system while also providing specialized treatment programs to service members who have violated the law.
Weld stated that court would greatly impact the state’s veterans, many of who suffer with post traumatic stress disorder. National average shows that 20 service members take their life every day due to the effects of PTSD.
The Senate took Senate Resolution 41, which recognizes the WV Kids Cancer Crusaders for their dedication and commitment to battling childhood cancer, under consideration. Senator Glen Jefferies, D-Putnam, rose in support of the resolution and urged passage by the body.
The following committees will meet today:
The following committees will meet tomorrow: