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Today in the Legislature

Monday, June 17, 2019 - 08:22 PM

House Advances Originating Education Bill, Schedules Public Hearing

The House took up an originating education bill, which was advanced to second reading during Monday evening’s floor session.

Earlier Monday, the House Select Committee on Education Reform C advanced House Bill 206 in a 14-8 vote. The originating bill had several changes from the bill that passed out of the Senate. An outline of those major differences can be viewed here.

This bill would cap the number of charter schools at 10 and would provide charter schools to go into effect for the 2021 school year. County school boards would have to approve applications to form charter schools, except in situations where the state school board intervened in the operation of the school system or in cases where the county school board forwarded an application to the state school board.

The originating bill also removed a proposed new section regarding work stoppages and strikes.

The bill also added a proviso saying that increasing allowances for professional student support personnel may be made through public-private partnerships or contracts.

The House advanced House Bill 206 to second reading. The Select Committee on Education Reform C will host a public hearing Wednesday at 8 a.m. in the House Chamber regarding this bill.

These bills were advanced to third reading:

  • S.B. 1015- Supplemental appropriation to Secretary of State, General Administrative Fees Account.
  • S.B. 1017- Supplemental appropriation to Department of Arts, Culture, and History, Educational Broadcasting Authority. 
  • S.B. 1020- Supplementing and amending Chapter 31, Acts of the Legislature, 2019, known as Budget Bill.
  • S.B. 1021- Decreasing existing appropriation and adding appropriation to Department of Veterans' Assistance. 
  • S.B. 1023- Supplementing, amending, increasing, and adding items of appropriations to Attorney General, Consolidated Federal Fund. 
  • S.B. 1024- Supplemental appropriation to Department of Agriculture Capital Improvements Fund. 
  • S.B. 1025- Supplemental appropriation to DHHR, Division of Human Services for fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. 
  • S.B. 1027- Adding new items and increasing existing items to various accounts. 
  • S.B. 1038- Supplemental appropriation to DHHR, Division of Health’s Central Office.
  • H.B. 113-Establishing tax incentives for new business activity in qualified opportunity zones.

These bills were advanced to second reading:

  • H.B. 120- Supplemental appropriation to the Department of Transportation.
  • H.B. 132- Supplementing and amending existing items of appropriations to the Department of Agriculture. 
  • H.B. 134- Increasing annual salaries of public school teachers and school service personnel. 
  • H.B. 144- West Virginia Business Ready Sites Program. 
  • H.B. 146- Establishing and funding of substance use disorder treatment and recovery facilities. 
  • H.B. 148- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Executive, Governor's Office.  
  • H.B. 149- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Executive, Governor's Office, Civil Contingent Fund. 
  • H.B. 150- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Revenue, Office of the Secretary, Home Rule Board Operations Fund. 
  • H.B. 151- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Arts, Culture and History, Division of Culture and History, Lottery Education Fund. 
  • H.B. 152- Making a supplementary appropriation by adding a new item and increasing the expenditure to the Department of Revenue, State Budget Office.  
  • H.B. 153- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Health, Central Office. 
  • H.B. 156- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Environmental Protection. 
  • H.B. 157- Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security Emergency Management.  
  • H.B. 158- Improving education by requiring the state board to establish rules for student accountability regarding performance.
  • H.B. 159- Relating to information technology access for the blind and visually impaired.
  • H.B. 160- Ron Yost Personal Assistance Services Act.
  • H.B. 161- Removing or revising obsolete, outdated, antiquated, inoperative, surplus or superseded provisions of code related to the School Building Authority.
  • H.B. 162- Removing antiquated, redundant, or expired provisions of the code for the administration of education.
  • H.B. 163- Removing sections of code relating to administration of education.
  • H.B. 174- increasing and promoting school innovation and flexibility.
  • H.B. 192- Removing certain fees for teaching.
  • H.B. 193-Relating to a statewide school personnel job bank.

These bills were referred to House Finance:

  • H.B. 167- Allowing a tax credit purpose for certain expenses paid by parent or legal guardian of students in providing private or home school.
  • H.B. 168- Establishing the West Virginia Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship program.
  • H.B. 171- Relating to tax exemptions for certain school supplies, school instructional materials, laptop and tablet computers, and sports equipment.
  • H.B. 173- Providing an annual cost-of-living increase for retired teachers and service personnel.

The House adopted H.C.R. 102- Desired Future for Public Education in West Virginia Interim Study.

The House will is adjourned until tomorrow at 1 p.m. House Finance will meet tomorrow at 9 a.m. in 460M and House Rules will meet tomorrow at 12:45 p.m. behind the House Chamber.



Monday, June 17, 2019 - 06:01 PM

House Finance Reports Supplemental Appropriation Bills to House Floor

The House Finance Committee reported several supplemental appropriation bills to the House floor Monday.

These bills were passed out of committee:

  • H.B. 132- supplemental appropriation for the 2020 budget year, reducing $290,000 from the Department of Health and Human Resource’s Division of Health Central Office and appropriating that amount to the Department of Agriculture. This is a result of the passage of a Senate Bill that placed regulatory authority over milk products to the Department of Agriculture instead of the DHHR.
  • H.B. 146- establishing and funding of substance use disorder treatment and recovery facilities.
  • H.B. 148- supplemental appropriation taking $244,200 out of the unappropriated general revenue fund to settle issues arising from the Broadband Opportunities Program.
  • H.B. 149- supplemental appropriation adding a new item of appropriation in the general revenue to the Governor's Office, Civil Contingent Fund for the Milton Flood Wall. This bill would dedicate $8 million to the project, which would allow for the process of buying property and obtaining other rights to begin. The project has an estimated completion date of five years.
  • H.B. 150- a bill to appropriate $68,000 in special revenue spending authority to the Home Rule Board Operations Fund., which was created through a Senate bill passed during the regular session. The spending authority was left out in the creation of the board.
  • H.B. 151- a bill that would appropriate $70,000 to the Division of Culture and History, which includes money for historic preservation grants, competitive arts grants, and funding for Save the Music.
  • H.B. 152- a bill appropriating $1 million from the general revenue fund to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Environmental Protection.
  • H.B. 153- supplemental appropriation directing $2 million to the Ryan Brown Addiction and Recovery Fund.
  • H.B. 157- a supplemental appropriation bill for the 2019 fiscal year which would dedicate $800,000 to the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to pay for stream gauges.

 



Monday, June 17, 2019 - 05:09 PM

Originating House Education Bill Reported to House Floor

A House education subcommittee advanced an originating education bill Monday. 

Senate Bill 1039, the Student Success Act, was referenced to the House Subcommittee on Education C. The committee instead took up an originating bill and reported that bill to the House floor in a 14-8 vote.

When another subcommittee member asked why the House was originating the bill, Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, said, “We gauged the interest in 1039 or any changes members may have. It was the will of our caucus to have a fresh start. There were significant changes and the thinking of the education leadership team and members was to start anew.”

The originating bill had several differences from Senate Bill 1039. To see an outline of some of the major differences, visit here

The originating bill would cap charter schools at 10 and would provide for charter schools to go into effect for the 2021 school year.

The originating bill would provide that before applying to form a charter school, a group would have to have or have submitted an application for a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Higher education institutions also could submit applications to form charter schools.

County school boards would have to approve the applications. The state Board of Education would review an application if a charter contract is in a county where the state board has intervened in the operation of the school system and limited authority of the county board. It also could review applications in an instance where an application is approved by the county school board and the county board forwards that application to the state school board, requesting it to perform an authorizer function.  

The bill does not include an appeal process for charter school applications.

The state school board would do up-front work on best practices, develop applications and contract forms and would provide training for applicants and authorizers. The bill also provides that preference may be given to the primary recruitment community, previous enrollment, and siblings. The bill also would provide that a lottery would not override previous attendance areas following any conversion to charter schools. 

The originating bill removed a proposed new section regarding work stoppages and strikes. 

The originating bill also added a proviso clarifying that increasing allowances for professional student support personnel may be made through public-private partnerships or contracts. 

The originating bill replaced the tax credit under the Senate’s bill and would instead give a $200 increase to classroom teachers and librarians for supplies.

Some delegates expressed concerns regarding transportation and funding. Funding would follow students from a public school to a charter school if the student transferred.

The House subcommittee also reported House Concurrent Resolution 103 to the floor. HCR 103 is a study resolution, requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to review the the Albert Yanni Programs of Excellence in Vocational-Technical Education.

These programs were created in 1989 to provide educational incentives for students and educators to achieve excellence in vocational-technical training.

HCR 103 would study these programs to determine their effectiveness and how they could be restructured or repealed.



Monday, June 17, 2019 - 10:07 AM

House Reconvenes, Refers Student Success Act to Select Committee C

The House reconvened the special session Monday morning, referring Senate education bills to committees.

Senate Bill 1039, establishing the Student Success Act, was referred to the House Select Committee on Education C, which meets at 10 a.m in House Education. The House referred Senate Bill 1040, the Education Savings Account Act, to the Select Committee on Education B, which meets at 10:30 a.m in House Government Organization. 

The House took up for immediate consideration and read a first time House Bill 144, which establishes the West Virginia Business Ready Sites Program.

The House also introduced 57 bills Monday – House Bills 145-202.

The House will reconvene at 6 p.m.



Monday, June 03, 2019 - 04:22 PM

Senate Passes Student Success Act, ESAs.

The Senate passed the Student Success Act on an 18-15-1 vote, following a lengthy debate Monday morning. Following an hour recess, the Senate returned, suspended the constitutional rules requiring a bill be read on three separate days, and passed the Education Savings Account Act by the same vote.

The Student Success Act (SB1039) includes a variety of proposed changes to the public education system, including pay increases, charter schools under the purview of county and state boards of education, increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for smaller county school systems, among other things.

On Sunday, the Senate amended the bill to withold pay and prevent extracurricular activities during a public school strike. The amendment also prevents superintendents from being able to close school during a work stoppage. The change codifies that strikes of this nature are illegal.

Education savings accounts (ESAs) allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. The funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, and other approved learning materials and programs.

Senate Bill 1040 does not have a limitation in overall number, total amount spent or a set type of student that could qualify, such as special needs.

The state Department of Education would make the money available to the state Treasurer, which would operate the program. If insufficient funding is available, priority would go to students whose applications were submitted first.

Parents could apply for an education savings account after July 1, 2020. The household income of applying families is not to exceed $150,000 a year. A parental review committee would be established to help the Treasurer oversee the use of the program.



Sunday, June 02, 2019 - 05:19 PM

Senate Adopts Four Amendments to Student Success Act, Moves Bill to Third Reading

The Senate adopted four amendments to the Student Success Act and advanced the bill to third reading during a Sunday afternoon floor session.

Senator Charlie Trump (R-Morgan, 15) successfully amended the bill. His change deals with the withholding of pay and preventing extracurricular activities during a public school strike. The amendment also prevents superintendents from being able to close school during a work stoppage. The change codifies that strikes of this nature are illegal.

Senator Ryan Weld (R-Brooke, 1) amended the bill to remove an institution of higher education from being a potential authorizer of charter schools, among other changes.

Senator Eric Tarr (R-Putnam, 4) amended the bill to allow county boards to establish an exceptional needs fund from surpluses for students who are likely to perform better outside of the public school setting.

Senator Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson, 16) made a technical amendment to the bill.

An amendment by Senator Bill Hamilton, (R-Upshur, 11) to allow county voters to approve charter schools by referendum, was rejected.

The bill will be up for a vote on third reading in the Senate tomorrow.

Senate Bill 1040, Education Savings Account Act, was approved by the Rules Committee, read a first time, and will be on second reading tomorrow.

 

The Senate has adjourned until tomorrow, June 3, at 9 a.m.

 

 

 



Saturday, June 01, 2019 - 11:23 AM

Senate Introduces Student Success Act

The Senate reconvened the 1st Extraordinary session Saturday morning, introducing Senate Bill 1039, Establishing the Student Success Act, as well as several other bills.

The bill includes a variety of proposed changes to the public education system, including pay increases, charter schools under the purview of county and state boards of education,  increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for smaller county school systems, among other things.

The bill removes concepts that were controversial during the 2019 regular session, including education savings accounts, “paycheck protection” and a nonseverability clause.

Other changes made to the bill late Friday night included:

• Removing authority of county boards to increase their regular levy rate.

• Correcting language in the teacher-pupil ratio section to be consistent with the intent to not
change class sizes.

• Removing all of the strike/work stoppage language except for prohibiting extracurricular
activities on days school is closed due to a work stoppage or strike.

• Adding language to the Innovation in Education article providing that no waivers from state
board rules can be granted without the approval of the State Board.

• Allowing any accredited WV public institution of higher education to apply to convert or create a
charter school, but prohibits an institution of higher education from applying to itself or another
institution of higher education.

• Making several changes to provisions relating to the searchable budget database and website
such as adding language providing that the State Superintendent shall not be required to violate
FERPA; and providing that employee addresses are not to be made public or otherwise
displayed on the budget data website.

• Removing language providing that net enrollment does not include any adult charged tuition or
special fees beyond that required of the regular secondary vocational student.

A motion to suspend the constitutional rules requiring a bill be read on three separate days for SB1039 failed on a 18-15 vote. A 4/5 vote was needed to suspend the rules. Senate Bill 1039 will be on second reading on Sunday, June 2.

Senate Bill 1040, Education Savings Account Act, was also intoduced. A motion to take the bill up for immediate consideration failed. The bill will be on first reading tomorrow, June 2.

Senate Bill 1041 , WV Business Ready Sites Program, and Senate Bill 1042 , Special Community Development School Pilot Program, were introduced and referred to committee.

Finally, the Senate amended and passed House Bill 118, which relates to the use of post-criminal conduct in professional and occupational initial licensure decision making. The bill had passed earlier in the special session. Corrections were made today to avoid unintended consequences and get the legislation more in line with its intent. The bill now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.

The Senate has adourned until tomorrow, June 2, at 2:00pm.

 

 

   

›› Senate bills introduced on this date


Friday, May 31, 2019 - 02:44 PM

Special Session Call Amended

Gov. Jim Justice amended his proclamation for the First Extraordinary Session of 2019, adding a bill relating to the West Virginia Business Ready Sites Program.

The governor issued the amended proclamation Friday. 

The Senate is set to resume the special session Saturday at 10 a.m. The House is set to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 17.



Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 03:07 PM

Senate to Reconvene Saturday, House to Reconvene June 17

The Senate will resume the First Extraordinary Session of 2019 at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, sent a letter Thursday to all delegates informing them that the House will resume the special session at 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 17.

The House split into four select education committees, with these committees consisting of 25 members. Nine bills were assigned to these select committees.

***

Gov. Jim Justice has signed 17 bills as of Thursday, including bills dedicating money to improve state roads and a bill allowing for “vertical integration,” which is intended to help the state’s medical cannabis program.

These are the bills:

  • House Bill 111- Relating to refunds of excise taxes collected from dealers of petroleum products 
  • House Bill 112- Relating generally to the personal income tax
  • House Bill 115- Relating generally to court actions in abuse and neglect proceedings
  • House Bill 116- Relating generally to persons 18 years of age and older in the custody of the Bureau of Juvenile Services
  • House Bill 117- Relating to reduced rates for low-income residential customers of privately owned sewer and combined water and sewer utilities
  • House Bill 119- Supplementing, amending, decreasing, and increasing items from the State Road Fund to the Department of Transportation
  • House Bill 133- Relating to the admissibility of health care staffing requirements in medical professional liability litigation
  • Senate Bill 1001- Upper Kanawha Valley Resiliency and Revitalization Program
  • Senate Bill 1004- Antihazing law
  • Senate Bill 1006- Authorizing the West Virginia Board of Physical Therapy to conduct criminal background checks on initial license applicants
  • Senate Bill 1009- Establishing health professionals’ student loan programs
  • Senate Bill 1012- Creating voluntary certification of recovery residences
  • Senate Bill 1013- Permitting certain trained professionals to provide counseling in medication-assisted treatment program
  • Senate Bill 1016- Supplemental appropriation to the Department of Transportation, Division of Highways
  • Senate Bill 1019- Supplementing, amending, decreasing, and increasing existing appropriations from State Road Fund to DOH for fiscal year ending June 30, 2020
  • Senate Bill 1026- Expiring funds from Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Fund and supplementing appropriations to Governor’s Office
  • Senate Bill 1037- Relating generally to medical cannabis

 



Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 10:33 AM

Governor Signs Four Bills From Special Session

Gov. Jim Justice has signed four bills that were passed during the special session.

Last week, the Legislature resumed its special session, passing 18 bills, before adjourning until further call of the House Speaker and Senate President. The Senate plans to reconvene Saturday. 

On Tuesday, the governor signed four bills into law, including three bills directing money to improve state roads: 

  • House Bill 119- Supplementing, amending, decreasing, and increasing items from the State Road Fund to the Department of Transportation
  • House Bill 133- Relating to the admissibility of health care staffing requirements in medical professional liability litigation
  • Senate Bill 1016- Supplemental appropriation to the Department of Transportation, Division of Highways
  • Senate Bill 1019- Supplementing, amending, decreasing, and increasing existing appropriations from State Road Fund to DOH for fiscal year ending June 30, 2020



Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 10:58 AM

Legislature Passes 18 bills, House Creates Four Select Education Committees

The West Virginia Legislature passed 18 bills Monday, including bills dedicating money to secondary road maintenance and legislation to help the state’s medical cannabis program.

The Legislature resumed its special session to fix bills that were vetoed by Gov. Jim Justice. The governor had 33 bills on his amended call. Both chambers adjourned until further call of the House Speaker and Senate president.

Three bills that completed legislation – House Bill 119, Senate Bill 1016, and Senate Bill 1019 — would direct an additional $88.5 million to improve state roads, with a significant amount going toward secondary road maintenance.

The Legislature also passed Senate Bill 1037, which would allow for vertical integration in the state’s medical cannabis program. The bill allows people or businesses to hold grower, processor and dispensary permits instead of limiting them to just one. The bill additionally said patient certificates may not be issued until July 1.

A list of completed legislation can be found here.

The House created four separate education committees comprised of 25 members each. Nine bills, including the proposed teacher and service personnel pay raise bill, were assigned to these select committees. These bills were:

  • House Bill 134-increasing the annual salaries of public school teachers and school service personnel, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education D
  • House Bill 135- increasing the amount that a faculty senate of a public school may allocate to a classroom, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education A
  • House Bill 136- authorizing a study of student loan payments tax credits and a loan forgiveness program for teachers, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education B
  • House Bill 138-restoring local public school flexibility, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education D
  • House Bill 139-authorizing a competitive grant program to implement vocational-technical education programs, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education A
  • House Bill 140-providing a bonus for teachers willing to teach in certain critical needs areas, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education A
  • House Bill 141-relating to school calendar and testing, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education D
  • House Bill 142- relating to modifications to the school aid formula, which was referred to the Select Committee on Education A
  • House Bill 143- increasing the basic foundation allowance to the county for professional student support personnel, which was referred to Select Committee on Education A

A motion to take up for immediate consideration Senate Bill 1029, which would provide a pay raise for teachers and school service personnel, failed and the bill was sent to the Senate Education Committee. Six other education bills were referred to the Senate Education Committee:

A motion to suspend the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three separate days failed for House Bill 113, which would establish tax incentives for new businesses in opportunity zones. This bill was read a first time.

Bills advanced to second reading in the House were: 

  • Senate Bill 1015- supplemental appropriation to Secretary of State, General Administrative Fees Account
  • Senate Bill 1017- supplemental appropriation to Department of Arts, Culture, and History, Educational Broadcasting Authority
  • Senate Bill 1020- supplementing and amending Chapter 31, Acts of the Legislature, 2019, known as Budget Bill
  • Senate Bill 1021-decreasing existing appropriation and adding appropriation to Department of Veterans’ Assistance
  • Senate Bill 1023- supplementing, amending, increasing, and adding items of appropriations to Attorney General, Consolidated Federal Fund
  • Senate Bill 1024- supplemental appropriation to Department of Agriculture Capital Improvements Fund
  • Senate Bill 1025- supplemental appropriation to DHHR, Division of Human Services for fiscal year ending June 30, 2019
  • Senate Bill 1027- adding new items and increasing existing items to various accounts
  • Senate Bill 1038- supplemental appropriation to the DHHR Division of Health’s Central Office



Monday, May 20, 2019 - 05:50 PM

Delegate Chuck Little sworn into office

Wood County Delegate Chuck Little was sworn into office Monday.

Little, a republican representing the ninth district, replaces Delegate Ray Hollen, who resigned earlier this month.

In his career, Little served 14 years with the West Virginia State Police, served as a special investigator on the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform and Oversight Committee, a special agent for the U.S. Treasury Department, an investigative consultant with Bowles Rice McDavid Graff and Love PLLC, and currently works as a chief investigative consultant for Bailey and Glasser LLP.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Tim Armstead administered the oath of office in Monday morning’s ceremony and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, assisted.



Monday, May 20, 2019 - 05:49 PM

Flooding Committee Updated on School Construction, Stream Gauges

The Joint Committee on Flooding heard updates on school construction in Nicholas and Kanawha counties and also heard updates on stream gauge installation.

Ben Ashley, director of architectural services at the School Building Authority told lawmakers that Kanawha County is tracking well, mentioning especially, Clendenin. He said Kanawha and Nicholas counties are nearing completion of FEMA’s mandated environmental assessments. Ashley said he is cautiously optimistic about the timeline.  

Kanawha County completed the procurement, design and construction of portables. The environmental historical consultations of the historic review of Clendenin Elementary also has been completed, he said. The site justification process for both schools in Kanawha County also have been completed.

Clendenin Elementary is the farthest along in the process with the completion of FEMA’s internal legal review—which is part of a 50-day review window. This internal legal review is about to begin for Herbert Hoover High School.

Nicholas County received CEFP approval and school closure approval from the state Board of Education, he said. Ashley said the SBA is waiting on the status of submissions for Summersville, Glade Creek and the Cherry River sites. He said once that is approved, the 50-day review period starts.

Sue Chapman, director of finance for the School Building Authority, said $5,990,701 has been spent so far. In Kanawha County, $428,354 has been spent so far for demolition. In Nicholas County, $536,000 has been spent for demolition. The total amount spent in Kanawha County was 4,827,201 and $1,163,500 for Nicholas County.

***

Jeremy White, with the U.S. Geological Survey Virginia-West Virginia Water Science Center, updated lawmakers on stream gauge installation.

White told the committee that if gauges were in place in White Sulphur Springs during the 2016 floods, people could have subscribed to receive texts or emails when these gauges reached a defined threshold. The Department of Highways then could have started closing roads earlier. Adding a gauge at Howard Creek in White Sulphur Springs was part of the 2019 network expansion.

Gauges also provide historical data of flooding to help understand potential future flooding events.

White said there is a need for funding so the gauges can be maintained. Current funding for installation and equipment upgrades ends September 30. He said there are sensors for about 90 percent of the sites and there is minor reconnaissance left to do. The goal is to have all gauges installed by that deadline. However, if there is no funding after that deadline, he said all 39 newly-installed stream gauges will not be supported or maintained and data will not be transmitted.

He told lawmakers $800,000 is needed to continue operating and maintaining the network – about $430,000 going toward the existing network and $370,000 for the new network.

The USGS receives about 60 percent of federal dollars and 40 percent of its funding from the state. He told lawmakers that a short-term supplemental request is needed to shore up the project for the coming year but in the future, they need more stable funding. 

About $765,000 was provided through the state budget surplus funding in October 2018 to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which signed a joint funding agreement with the USGS. About $425,000 was contributed directly to the existing stream network.

About $390,000 went to upgrades and installing 39 sites with 31 sites part of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s IFLOW network. The USGS matched about $340,000 with additional one-time funds for infrastructure improvements and equipment purchases.



Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 05:04 PM

Flooding Committee Hears Updates on Richwood, RISE

The Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding met Tuesday, hearing from the State Auditor’s office and Maj. Gen. James Hoyer.

In the two-hour meeting, lawmakers heard updates on RISE and an audit examining Richwood's finances.

Steve Connolly, general counsel for the State Auditor’s office, presented findings from the audit. The report started out as an investigation into allegations of purchasing card misuse but it later turned into an 18-month examination of Richwood’s finances.

According to the audit, which was released last month, FEMA allocated $3.1 million to help in recovery efforts from the 2016 floods. However, the audit said, “the city’s recovery has been inhibited by personal greed, incompetence and a complete disregard of fiscal management.”

“Sadly, the City of Richwood now teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, and the primary beneficiaries of the monies appear to be only a few public officials and their family and friends,” the audit stated.

Connolly told the committee a large sum of FEMA funds did not go to its intended purpose. He said the town received $2,574,657 in funds through the public assistance grants program, $36,000 through hazard mitigation, and $512,544 in community disaster loans.

Of the $2.5 million for the public assistance grants, Connolly told the committee about $518,000 was transferred to the general operating funds, at which point it became untraceable. He told the committee more than $900,000 from FEMA funds for specific projects resulted in questionable expenditures or documentation.

The audit outlined several issues, including money requested to repair the city’s main water intake. The city received about $500,000 from FEMA to repair the intake. However, the city made a $400 temporary fix with PVC piping and re-directed FEMA money to pay city officials’ salaries and city debts, according to the audit. The audit stated the water intake has not been repaired and on one occasion, the entire city’s water system was shut down.

Other issues outlined in the audit included: 

  • Richwood has potential financial liabilities of nearly $3 million and the city does not appear to have financial means to pay off its liabilities
  •   City Council gave discretion to a recovery team to pay themselves, family, and friends more than $468,000
  • The city failed to keep accounting of FEMA funds and diverted money from its intended purpose
  •  Former Mayor Bob Baber gave his assigned purchasing card to unauthorized users for at least 19 purchases
  •    Former Police Chief Lloyd Cogar misused his purchasing card, including spending more than $2,000 in tire purchases and services from his personal tire store

Connolly said former city officials were arrested following this audit. According to media reports, Cogar, Baber, former clerk Abigail McClung, and current Richwood Mayor Christine Drennen were arrested earlier this month.

The state Auditor’s office issued seven recommendations following the audit. Recommendations included for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to evaluate how FEMA money is received and to institute better oversight of counties and municipalities that receive FEMA money.

Other recommendations included to establish a guidebook and mandate annual training for counties and municipalities on managing public money after an emergency.

***

Hoyer gave lawmakers a brief update on RISE. He told the committee that as of Tuesday, there are 498 cases, representing an increase of 33 cases from last year.

He said the reason for this increase is because the case management team goes back through and identifies additional individuals eligible.

So far, 50 homes have been completed and 83 are under contract management. He estimated by the end of June, 300 cases would be under the various stages under contract management.

Hoyer also answered questions about West Virginia’s return to HUD’s "slow spender" list for the state’s pace regarding its spending of the total grant award. Hoyer explained slow spender is determined by a three-month average of overall spending compared to the overall grant award.

Hoyer told the committee there were two main factors that contributed to West Virginia being placed back on that list—lengthy environmental processes and significant weather conditions during the winter months.

Hoyer said he is working with West Virginia University’s Law Institute and Marshall University's environmental center to help expedite and address environmental issues.  



Sunday, March 10, 2019 - 12:32 AM

Special Session Convenes Immediately Following Regular Session

The Senate and House convened for the first Extraordinary Special Session of 2019 by Proclamation of Governor Justice.

Both the Senate and House adjourned until both the Senate President and Speaker of the House decide to return.

RA



Sunday, March 10, 2019 - 12:27 AM

First Session of the 84th Legislature Ends on a Filibuster

The Senate reconvened at 11 p.m. to discuss H.C.R. 61, Applying to and urging Congress to call a convention of the states to limit the terms of office.

The Regular session ended before the Senate could vote on the Resolution.

The Legislature adjourned Sine Die.

RA



Saturday, March 09, 2019 - 11:38 PM

House of Delegates Reconsiders House Bill 3143

The House of Delegates, in the midst of concurrence with Senate amendments, motioned to reconsider House Bill 3143.

This bill relates to requirements for making consumer loans in West Virginia. The bill limits the loans where finance charges may be imposed and clarifies the need for a license from the Division of Financial Intuitions. The House had refused to concur with Senate amendments, but after more information was brought forward and stakeholders expressed their opinion on the bill it was reconsidered.

The House concurred with amendments made and was passed, completing its legislation.

House Bill 3139 creates the PEIA rainy day fund. This bill changes certain requirements imposed on the PEIA Finance Board. The house concurred with Senate amendments and was passed. The bill has now passed legislation.

Senate Bill 487 relating to admissibility of health care staffing requirements in litigation. The bill was committed to a conference to committee and the report was to be taken up by the chamber. After much debate the report of the committee was accepted and the bill finished legislation after passage.

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›› Completed Legislation

Saturday, March 09, 2019 - 11:32 PM

Further Bills Passed by Senate Following Adoption of House Changes

Various messages concerning legislation were received by the Senate prior to recess.  

Nearing the end of the 84th Regular Session, the Senate received multiple messages urging the body to concur with changes offered by the House of Delegates. Of the concurred legislation were Senate Bills 365 and House Bills 2540 and 3044 

Numerous Senators also rose to report messages from conference committees, resulting in the passage of Senate Bills 596, 405, 522, 481, 487, 317 and 241 

 

›› House bills introduced on this date


Saturday, March 09, 2019 - 11:00 PM

House of Delegates Completes Legislative Action on Substantial Bills

The House of Delegates continued consideration of Senate messages and completed legislative action on several noteworthy bills, such as House Bill 2503 and House Bill 2618.

The House had originally moved to refuse to concur with Senate amendments made to House Bill 2503, but Delegate Jeff Pack, R-Raleigh, a Delegate who had originally voted on the prevailing side, moved to reconsider.

The Senate amendments to House Bill 2503 would issue additional protections to unprotected parents who are seeking counsel, and it also provides a mechanism for individuals between the ages of 18-21 to have access to housing in the event that they are involved in an abuse and neglect case. Concern was raised in regards to how much latitude the Senate had to amend the bill, considering the original bill passed out of the House was more narrow.

After a lengthy debate, the House reconsidered and concurred with the Senate’s changes and passed the bill 74-25.

House Bill 2618 also completed legislative action on this day. This bill would include undue influence as a factor in the definition of financial exploitation of an elderly person or protected person. The Senate’s changes to the bill improve the structure of the language within the bill, as well as create a cause of action in magistrate and circuit court where an elderly person or incapacitated adult is suffering financial exploitation due to the intentional misappropriation or misuse of funds or undue influence. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate changes.

House Bill 2540, House Bill 2474, and House Bill 2761 both underwent technical Senate amendments that were unanimously adopted.

The Senate refused to concur and requested that the Senate recede their amendments on House Bill 2709, a bill to exempt contact information for hunting license holders from public disclosure.

The House reconsidered their request of the Senate to recede their amendments on House Bill 3034, and ultimately concurred with the Senate amendments with further fiscal amendments.

The House of Delegates concurred with amendment to House Bill 3139. The amendment provided a source of funding for the bill.

House Bill 2193 was passed by the Senate without amendment and completed legislative action. This bill would provide a specific escheat of US savings bonds.

The House concurred with a Senate amendment to House Bill 2083 that removed findings and would require temporary identification cards be issued to individuals within 7 days of their request.

The House concurred in a vote of 54-45 with Senate changes to House Bill 2049 that would specify that private companies could not be held liable for attorney fees.

The House concurred with a title amendment to Senate Bill 622 in a vote of 57-42.

The House concurred with Senate changes to Senate Bill 410 that would issue administrative changes to the rule-making authority in the bill, thus completing legislative action.

›› Completed Legislation

Saturday, March 09, 2019 - 09:58 PM

Nine Bills Complete Legislation

The Senate reconvened at 9 p.m. to receive House messages.

Nine bills completed legislation including House Bill 2010, Relating to foster care. The bill would update the regulation of foster care in West Virginia. The bill does nine things which include:

  • Mandates the transition of the foster care population into managed care.
    • It requires that the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) transition the foster care system into a managed care system by Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Creates a foster care child and parent investigator.
  • Implements performance-based contracting.
  • Studies kinship care.
  • Requires DHHR to update their legislative rule to ensure normalcy for the foster child.
    • The bill would extend the time a foster family is certified from one to three years.
  • Clarifies the amount that DHHR will pay for court ordered services
  • Changes policies of child residential providers with the goal of keeping children in West Virginia.
  • Clarifies the type of assessment performed on a foster child.
  • States that the use of Medication Assisted Treatment may not be the sole reason parental rights may be terminated.

The Senate also passed eight other bills. Those bills include the following:

  • Senate Bill 613: Requiring DNR include election of organ donation on hunting licenses
  • Senate Bill 656: Relating to electronic filing of tax returns
  • Senate Bill 669: Allowing appointment of commissioners to acknowledge signatures
  • Senate Bill 677: Supplemental appropriation to Division of Health and Division of Human Services
  • Senate Bill 679: Supplemental appropriation to Division of Finance
  • Senate Bill 680: Supplemental appropriations to various divisions in DMAPS
  • House Bill 2486: Using records of criminal conviction to disqualify a person from receiving a license for a profession or occupation
  • House Bill 3141: Requiring capitol building commission authorization for certain renovations

All bills will be reported to Governor Justice to singed into law or vetoed.

The Senate is currently in session.

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›› Completed Legislation


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