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Today in the Legislature

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 05:31 PM

Senate Judiciary Approves Four Bills

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved four bills to be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they pass.

SB 224 would repeal the requirement for an employer’s bond for wages and benefits for certain designated employers and related requirements.

Senators differed over whether the passage of the bill would help small construction and mineral industry businesses to start up without having to establish a wage bond or if it would simply deprive workers of better wage security.

None of the states bordering West Virginia require wage bonds from employers in construction and mineral industries.

David Mullins from the Division of Labor was present to answer questions from the committee. He said the Division currently holds 4,435 wage bonds to protect those workers should their companies go bankrupt.

SB 429 would allow the Division of Corrections to monitor inmate electronic communications.

SB 436 would allow investigators from the Attorney General’s office to carry firearms in the course of their official duties under certain circumstances.

SB 445 would amend the definition of an “abused child” to include a child conceived as a result of an act of sexual assault.

The committee will meet again tomorrow at 3 p.m.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 04:50 PM

House Health passes two bills, rejects one, and lays over another

House Committee on Health and Human Resources passed two bills, rejected one, and laid over another. 

HB 2520 would prohibit the use of tanning devices by a person under the age of 18. Currently, law states that persons 14 to 17 can use a tanning device with parental consent. This law would replace that law and state no one under the age of 18 shall use a tanning device. According to the dermatologist who presented, the use of these devices is directly correlated to the development of skin cancers. 

HB 2653 would extend the multistate real-time tracking system to June 30, 2023.

HB 2624 was rejected; it would have eliminated the Board of Sanitation. 

HB 2132 was laid over until a future meeting; it would ensure that all able bodied adults without dependents are working, or in a work program, for a minimum of 20 hours per week for continued eligibility for SNAP benefits. Currently, there is a nine county pilot program doing this. The committee voted to lay the bill over until data on the pilot program could be provided. 



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 02:56 PM

HB 2555 moved through House Labor and Industry

House Committee on Labor and Industry passed HB 2555 today. It also postponed HB 2009 indefinitely and laid HB 2546 over to the next meeting's agenda. 

HB 2555 removes the requirement that programs be jointly administered by labor and management trustees in order to qualify for tax credits for apprenticeship training construction trade. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass, but first be referred to the Finance Committee. 

HB 2546 would allow uniform costs to be deducted from an employee's final paycheck if the uniform is not returned. Employer must notify employee of uniform cost, demand uniform be returned in one business day and if it's not, then it may be removed from paycheck. This bill will be on the agenda for the next meeting. 



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 02:41 PM

House Ag. and Nat. Resource Committee move four bills and lay over one

Today in the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee one agriculture bill was approved and another was laid over. Three natural resource bills were approved. 

HB 2566 was laid over to the next meeting. This bill (also known as The WV Fresh Food Act) would require that state programs purchase a minimum of 20 percent of its fresh food from in-state fresh food producers. Many questions were raised regarding this act, such as how would it be monitored, would it be more expensive, and the big one: can our farmers produces that much food in-state? As the bill reads, each institution would be required to purchase 20 percent. Institutions include schools, universities, correction facilities, and others. The bill will be on the agenda of the next meeting. 

HB 2453 would expand the list of persons the Commissioner of Agriculture many license to grow or cultivate industrial hemp. The bill requires a statewide and a nationwide background check. This bill will be reported to the floor, with recommendation that it do pass, but first be referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

HB 2641 would treat retired natural resource officers like all other law enforcement and exempt them from the state income tax. This bill will be reported to the floor, with recommendation that it do pass, but first be referred to the Committee on Finance. 

HB 2662 would prohibit the wanton waste of game animals, game birds, or game fish. The bill makes it illegal to waste game that has been wounded, killed, or taken while hunting or fishing. Hunting/fishing license could be suspended for five years; could also be fined or jailed. This bill will be reported to the floor, with recommendation that it do pass, but first be referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

HB 2663 would increase the compensation for natural resource officers.  This bill will be reported to the floor, with recommendation that it do pass, but first be referred to the Committee on Finance. 



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 02:34 PM

Adjusted School Eligibility Ages Approved in Senate Education

The Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that would adjust the date upon which children become eligible for certain school programs and school attendance.

The bill, SB 186, would change the kindergarten age attainment requirement from age five prior to September 1, to age five prior to July 1; the early childhood education program age attainment date requirement from age four prior to September 1, to age four prior to July 1; and the age for which compulsory attendance begins to those who attain age six by July 1, of each year.

The committee substitute would enact the age requirements starting with the 2019-2020 school year.

Senator John Unger (D-Berkeley) said he was thankful to the chairman for putting the bill on the agenda, since he has seen how the age gaps in enrolling children into school have been an "ongoing problem" for many parents in the state.

No fiscal note was provided with the bill, as counsel believed there would not be much of a financial effect past the first few years of enaction.

The bill will be referred to Senate Finance once reported to the floor.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 02:34 PM

House Bill 2356 Reported From House Political Subdivisions Committee

The House Political Subdivisions Committee met today to discuss HB 2356.

House Bill 2356 would make it so that if a municipal planning commission proposed to demolish or construct projects within a historic district designated by listing on the National Register of Historic Places, it must secure the approval of the historic landmark commission, if one exists. 

The bill was amended by Delegate Blair (R-Berkeley) so that if there are city or county historical landmark commissions, then one must get their approval as well before any work can be done on the site.

The bill was referred to the committee on Government Organization with a recommendation that it pass.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 02:17 PM

House Passes Bill Increasing Penalties For Meth Manufacturing Around Children

Today, in the House of Delegates, five bills passed, including one which seeks to strengthen penalties on people who allow children to be around methamphetamine manufacturing.

Committee Substitute for HB 2083 would increase the felony criminal penalties for exposing children to methamphetamine manufacturing. The current penalty is one to five years. This bill increases the penalty to two to 10 years. The bill also gives meaning to "seriously bodily injury" sustained in location of the manufacturing.

HB 2123 makes the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind eligible to participate in any and all funding administered or distributed by the West Virginia School Building Authority. 

Committee Substitute for HB 2486 prohibits the restrictions that are inconsistent with any applicable policy of insurance or the performance of insurance functions with respect to the receipt or use of medical records that are obtained by insurers in connection with insurance claims and civil litigation. 

Committee Substitute for HB 2542 gives institutions of higher education more authority in human resources and personnel. The bill defines classified and nonclassified employees and removes mandating a temporary salary. 

Committee Substitute for HB 2585 creates two criminal offenses relating to money laundering. They are (1) laundering criminal proceeds through financial transaction and (2) the transportation, transmission, or transfer of criminal proceeds. 

Committee Meetings Today

Political Subdivisions: 2 p.m. in 434M

Health and Human Resources: 3 p.m. in 215E

Pension and Retirement: 4 p.m. in 434M

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 4:30 p.m. in 215M

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Finance: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in 460M

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 410M

Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security: 1 p.m. in 434M

Education: 2:30 p.m. in 434M

Gov. Org.: 3 p.m. in 215E

Monday, March 13th 9 a.m. Public Hearing on Justice's Save the State in the House Chamber.

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 

›› House bills introduced on this date


Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 02:09 PM

SNAP Work Requirement Bill Passes Senate Health

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources has passed a bill that would provide for eligibility and fraud requirements for public assistance by requiring the Department of Health and Human Resources to implement work requirements for applicants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The bill, SB 60, would also require the creation of a database to more efficiently ensure SNAP recipients meet eligibility requirements.

Senator Ed Gaunch (R-Kanawha) is the lead sponsor for the bill and said he chose to create the bill in order to ensure that funds for SNAP benefits are administered to those who need them most, rather than being used in possibly fraudulent ways.

Gaunch said the work requirement would make it easier to process eligibility for SNAP and is already a part of federal law that West Virginia has waived.

Gaunch also mentioned that the work requirement is already required in nine counties as a pilot program, and the bill would simply apply the requirement to the rest of the state.

Dr. Bradley Wilson, an assistant professor of geography at West Virginia University, said there are a few issues with the bill, including the fact that the pilot program was carried out in nine counties with some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

Wilson said the program is not sufficient enough to keep in mind 29% of SNAP-dependent families who live in "food deserts," where there is not adequate access to retailers who consistently provide the required products for those benefits.

He said there is barely enough access to food, let alone jobs, in those rural areas of the state.

DHHR Deputy Secretary Harold Clifton said there would be some leeway available in the requirement for those who would be unable to attend to a job.

Clifton said the DHHR would need some additional staffing in order to keep up with the demands that come with ensuring and tracking employment for SNAP recipients. 

Senator Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) proposed an amendment that would waive the work requirement for counties with adequate employment and volunteer opportunities to fulfill the requirement.

The amendment was voted down 8-7.

The bill will be referred to Senate Finance once reported to the floor.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 12:47 PM

Senate Passes Four Bills to the House

The Senate met today and passed four bills on to the House. The bills were SB 125, SB 214, SB 321, and SB 426.

Senate Bill 125 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate the legislative rules.

Senate Bill 214 would adopt the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act.

Senate Bill 321 would report requirements of employee information to the CPRB.

Senate Bill 426 would repeal the DNR legislative rule on the litter control grant program as it is obsolete due to the DEP already doing that.

Bills on second reading were SB 4, SB 5, SB 9, SB 180, SB 225, SB 236, SB 261, SB 337, SB 245, SB 346, and SB 347. Senate Bill 4, Senate Bill 9, and Senate Bill 347 were amended.

Senate Bills 458-484 were introduced.

Senate Resolution 24 was adopted congratulating Chapmanville Lady Tigers Softball Team for winning the 2016 Class AA state championship.

Senate Resolution 25 was also adopted congratulating Jeffrey Statler as West Virginia's Outstanding Tree Farmer for 2017.

The following committees meet today:

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary  at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Government Organization at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 11:37 AM

Senate Transportation Passes Two Bills Related to Taxi Services

The Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has approved two bills to be sent to the full Senate with the recommendation that they pass.

SB 263 would allow railroad companies to use different taxi services that are not regulated by the Public Service Commission in the state. It was created due to several complaints from railroad companies about the conditions of the taxi services they receive in the state. 

Norfolk Southern Railway lobbyist Jason Wazelle said railroad workers simply want the option to seek better taxi services, rather than being confined by law to only one choice.

CEO of C&H Taxi Jeb Corey said railroad personnel could easily go through the PSC to ensure that services are kept up to standard, rather than removing a regulation that Corey said provides necessary jobs and taxi services to small communities.

Corey said adoption of the bill would force his and other taxi companies in the state to lay off many workers and outsource to other countries, due to a fall in profits that losing business with railroad companies would cause.

"It would be a dramatic blow to us," Corey said. "I'm not sure change like this is even necessary."

Wazelle said the dropped regulation would actually open the state up for new business that could operate and provide railroad workers with better services without having to go through the PSC.

Regional vice president of CSX Transportation Randy Cheetham said the other 22 states his company operates in do not have to go through such regulations, which have caused many issues and complaints from workers.

"When you're the only gang in town, you can pretty much do what you want," Cheetham said, "And we have to deal with it."

Cheetham also said adoption of the bill would simply increase necessary competition and create a "level playing field" requiring state taxi companies to improve their services.

The bill would have no fiscal impact and would not exempt taxi services from still following safety regulations.

John Doyle spoke in oppostition to the bill on behalf of the West Virginia Transportation Association.

Public Service Commissioner Kara Williams was also present and said the PSC would not be taking a position on the bill.

Members then passed SB 343, which would prohibit transportation network company drivers from soliciting rides or occupying designated cab stands and require such drivers to register annually with the local county commission at the commission’s discretion or face possible criminal penalties.

Senator Robert Beach (D-Monongalia) is the lead sponsor for the bill and said he created it to help local taxi services operate on highly competitive days that attract services from out of state.

Beach specifically referenced how Uber drivers from Pittsburgh tend to take business away from taxi services in Morgantown on West Virginia University game days. He said he believes this bill will help to return business back to those local companies.

The bill will be referred to the Senate Committee on Government Organization and then to the Senate Judiciary Committee once reported to the floor.



Monday, February 27, 2017 - 04:31 PM

Bill to Streamline DUI Charges Considered by Senate Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a bill for passage that would transfer decision-making to the courts instead of the Division of Motor Vehicles concerning license suspension and revocation in cases where an individual is charged with driving under the influence.

The bill, SB 212, would allow magistrates to make determinations concerning a driver’s license in accordance with certain procedures, and all within the context of the criminal action.

Committee counsel Jennifer Greenlief said the bill was created to "streamline the process by which DUI charges are handled," by removing the burden of coordinating criminal and administrative proceedings for each case.

The DMV currently has a backlog of cases that Greenlief said could take 3-4 years to process due to continuances from schedule conflicts in cases.

Greenlief said the bill would "undoubtedly" save time in processing those cases.

The bill is identical to SB 534, which passed the Senate 24-10 last year and was sent by the House to be studied during the interim. No further action was taken with the bill after interim.

Prior to discussion of the bill, the committee approved SB 439 to be reported to the floor, which would clarify that because Salem Correctional Center lies in two counties, and the Courts of both Counties have expressed concern regarding venue, that venue shall lie in Harrison County for all actions. 



Monday, February 27, 2017 - 03:57 PM

Four Bill Move through House Gov. Org.

Today, House Gov. Org met and discussed four bills. All will be reported to floor with recommendation that they do pass; two bill will be referred to House Finance.

HB 2343 would require the State Police lease rather than buy vehicles, if its cost effective. The cars would be "wrapped" in state police colors. Wraps are a temporary paint job and could possibly be done at a cost between $500-$1,000; much cheaper than an actual paint job. 

"If the leasing was cheaper, State Police would have a new fleet," Chairman Howell said. Because most leasing companies have vehicles no more than five years old. 

This bill will be reported to the floor to be referred to the Finance Committee for farther consideration.

HB 2475 would require the Auditor and other state, county, district or municipal officers to certify to the Tax Commissioner the identity of payees prior to issuance of payments, and authorize the Tax Commissioner to identify those payees who are not in good standing with the Tax Department and to require the Auditor or issuing officer to forward to the Tax Commissioner the lesser of the amount of tax interest and penalty owed or the remaining amount of payment. This bill requires the Auditor or issuing officer or agent to notify the vendor or contractor of the amount being withheld and requires payment be withheld until the vendor or contractor is in good standing. 

This does not apply to income tax; only other fees owed to the state. 

State Auditor John McCuskey said, "We will not hire new people, because the current staff is capable. We will not increase the cost to the state."

This bill will be reported to the floor to be referred to the Finance Committee. 

HB 2502 would allow a licensed professional in another state to apply for licensure in West Virginia, if certain conditions are met. It would allow for the use of experience in work in another state to fulfill education requirements in certain occupations. 

This bill will be reported to the floor. 

HB 2630 would authorize the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine to share staff when it is efficient and practical to do so. 

The bill will be reported to the floor.



Monday, February 27, 2017 - 03:32 PM

Amended SB 344 is Reported by Senate Banking and Insurance Committee

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee met today and reported SB 344 to the Committee on Judiciary with a recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 344 would specify that payments made on consumer credit sales and loans must be applied in order that they are due, otherwise there are penalties.

Senator Romano (D-Harrison) suggested the bill penalizes those who are trying to pay their minimum payments by allowing the late fee penalties to carry over.

Mr. Loren Allen, a presenter representing the Banking Commission. said the bill is well within the rights and obligations of the signers of the contract and is designed to punish chronic late payers and not those who have missed one payment, or are trying to meet their minimum payments.

Senator Romano then presented an amendment that would only penalize with late fees for the months where payments were late in order to prevent stacking. This amendment was defeated.

Senator Facemire (D-Braxton) suggested an amendment that would exempt credit cards from the bill, due to their fluctuation of minimum payments. This amendment was adopted. 

Senate Bill 344 as amended was then sent to the Committee on Judiciary with the recommendation that it pass.



Monday, February 27, 2017 - 01:41 PM

Trapping ID, Regional Trail Systems Bills Approved in Senate Natural Resources

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources has approved two bills to be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they pass.

SB 410 would allow a West Virginia Division of Natural Resources identification tag to be used to identify a trap, instead of just the name and address of the trapper.

Committee counsel Noelle Starek said the bill arose from a "constituent issue," in which a citizen believed the ID could serve as an equivalent to a name and address.

Some committee members rose concerns regarding the length of the process it could take to contact the DNR in order to retrieve a trapper's address and name, in case of an emergency involving the trap.

Memembers were reasurred by DNR Colonel Jerry Jenkins that the process would not take very long, as the DNR also has an extension with 9-1-1 emergency services.

SB 28 would allow three or more contiguous counties to create a regional recreation authority for off-highway vehicle trail riding and other recreational purposes.

The bill is modeled after an orginial law pertaining to the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority.

Starek said supporters of the bill claim it will "boost economic development and tourism" by providing more unique trail systems throughout the state and Appalachian region.

Each recreation area would have to span at least 10,000 acres and be self-sustaining, aside from devoted funds from county commissions or federal trail and recreation grants.

The bill will be referred to the Senate Committe on Government Organization once reported to the floor.



Monday, February 27, 2017 - 01:39 PM

Four Bill Pass on House Floor

Today, four bills passed in the House, five bills were on second reading and two bills were on first reading. Bills passed were 2001, 2028, 2359, and 2479.

HB 2001 modifies the ethics and purchasing laws to provide more transparency in the government. 

HB 2028  allows a plaintiff or petitioner to file a claim or petition against the state, a state officer, or a state agency in the circuit court of a county in which the plaintiff or petitioner resides or in which a claim arose, as well as in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County. 

HB 2359  aligns the criminal penalties of practicing osteopathic medicine with those of practicing allopathic medicine. 

HB 2479  adopts and implement the provisions of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act in West Virginia. 

Committee Meetings Today

Roads and Transportation: 1: 30 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary: 2 p.m. in 410M

Finance: 2 p.m. in 460M

Education: 2:30 p.m. in 434M

Gov. Org.: 3 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Ag. and Nat. Resources: 9 a.m. in 215E

Industry and Labor: 10 a.m. in 215E

Political Subdivision: 1 p.m. in 434M

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 3:30 p.m. in 215E

Pensions and Retirement: 4 p.m. in 460M

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 



Monday, February 27, 2017 - 12:51 PM

Six Bills Passed Today on Senate Floor

The Senate met today and passed six bills to the House. The bills were SB 80, SB 164, SB 204, SB 231, SB 330, and SB 349.

Senate Bill 80 would equalize the criminal penalty for entering without breaking regardless of the time of day.

Senate Bill 164 would relate to traffic regulations and special load limits. This bill would make it more feasible for trucks to carry telephone poles and not need special permits to do so.

Senate Bill 204 would require persons appointed to fill vacancies by the Governor have the same qualifications for the vacated office.

Senate Bill 231 would relate to the State Board of Education and Medicaid-eligible children.

Senate Bill 330 would alter language in the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act.

Senate Bill 349 would repeal outdated code relating to the division of corrections.

Bills on second reading were SB 9, SB 125, SB 214SB 236, SB 321, and SB 426. SB 9 and SB 236 were laid over for one day and will stay on second reading.

Senate Resolution 22 was adopted which congratulated the Cabell Midland Golf Team on winning the 2016 Class AAA golf tournament.

Senate Resolution 23 was adopted which recognized Leadership Berkeley for its service, dedication, and commitment to Berkeley County.

Senate Bills 442-457 were introduced today.

Some senators had remarks today. Senator Mullins (R-Raleigh) said that he was disappointed in the Confirmations Committee and thy should stop trying to catch people up in "gotcha questions" but work in a bipartisan manner. Senator Trump (R-Morgan) defended Senate Bill 330. Senator Karnes (R-Upshur) said Nevada has switched from an income tax to a higher consumption tax and that they have grown much more than West Virginia has since they have done that. Senator Romano (D-Harrison) said the Senate should not be interjecting themselves into the third branch of government and Senate Bill 330 would do that.

The following committees meet today:

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Banking and Insurance at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Natural Resources at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Tomorrow, Transportation and Infrastructure meets at 10 a.m. in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Friday, February 24, 2017 - 03:00 PM

Five Bills Discussed in House Judiciary

Today the Judiciary Committee met and discussed five bills.

HB 2329 would make it unlawful to product, manufacture, or possess fentanyl. This bill sets penalties for offenses.

HB 2367 would establish organized retail crime as a crime and establish penalties.

HB 2579 would increase the penalties for transportation of narcotics and certain controlled substances into the state.

HB 2526 would classify more drugs to Schedule I, II, IV, and V of controlled substances.

HB 2648 would increase the minimum sentence by three years for individuals convicted of manufacturing, delivering, or transporting controlled substances in the presence of a minor.

HB 2620 would create a central repository of drug overdose information in West Virginia. It establishes the program, purpose and a reporting system requirements. 



Friday, February 24, 2017 - 02:38 PM

Senate Tax Reform Hears Presentations on Repealing Income Tax

The Senate's Select Committee on Tax Reform heard presentations from two major fiscal research organizations on a bill that would repeal the personal income tax in West Virginia.

The bill, SB 335, would also phase out the consumer sales and service tax and the use tax to create and enact a general consumption tax law.

Tax Foundation policy analyst Jared Walczak said the "very bold approach" of eliminating the income tax would increase productivity and migration into the state, as seen in other states that have enacted similar legislation.

"West Virginia has some disadvantages," Walczak said. "The tax code needs to be more attractive."

Walczak said a lower or nonexistent income tax in the state would make it much easier or more enticing for businesses to locate in the state, especially since West Virginia is closely located to several major cities including Pittsburgh, Columbus and Washington, D.C.

Executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, Ted Boettner, said the shift of revenue dependence onto a general consumption tax would most likely harm to low- and moderate-income families, while cutting costs for high-earning families.

Boettner said some low-income earners would have to pay up to $2,700 more in taxes each year if the bill were to pass.

Unlike the Tax Foundation's findings, Boettner said his research showed that major cuts to income tax make "little difference" in stimulating state economies.

"I would make a strong argument that there wouldn't be economic growth," Boettner said.

Members of the committee are looking forward to developing the bill further to explore the possibilities it could present the state, as well as address issues the state would wish to avoid.

"It's something big for this state," Senator Glenn Jeffries (D-Putnam) said. "It's huge."

Nine states currently do not have an income tax. Many other states have lowered their income tax or are considering legislation to eliminate the tax.

The committee will examine the specifics of the committee substitute for the bill at the next meeting. The fiscal note will also be analyzed if available at that time.

Once approved by the comittee, the bill will be referred to the Senate Finance Committee.



Friday, February 24, 2017 - 12:13 PM

Three Bills Pass the Senate Today

Today the Senate passed three bills. Those bills were SB 41, SB 113, and SB 325.

Senate Bill 41 would extend the time a person may be subject to probation.

Senate Bill 113 would authorize the DEP to promulgate the legislative rules bundle in order to be consistent with federal standards.

Senate Bill 325 would relate to crossbow hunting.

Bills on Second reading were SB 9, SB 80, SB 164, SB 204, SB 231, SB 236, SB 330, and SB 349 with SB 9 and SB 236 being laid over one day.

Senate Bills 427-441 were introduced.

The following committees meet today:

The Select Committee on Tax Reform at 1:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. Monday in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m.



Friday, February 24, 2017 - 12:03 PM

Four Bills on Second Reading in House

Committee Substitutes for HB 2001, HB 2028, HB 2359, and HB 2479 were read for the second time today.

HB 2001 would modify the ethics and purchasing laws to provide more transparency in government. 

HB 2028 would allow a plaintiff or petitioner to file a claim or petition against the state, a state officer, or state agency in the circuit court of a county in which the plaintiff or petitioner resides or which a claim arose as well as in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County. 

HB 2359 would align the criminal penalties of practicing osteopathic medicine with those of practicing allopathic medicine. 

HB 2479 would adopt and implement the provisions of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act in West Virginia. 

Committee Meetings Today

Judiciary: Continuing at 12:15 p.m. in 410M

Committee Meetings Monday, Feb. 27th 

Judiciary Public Hearing on HB 2506 at 8:30 a.m. in the House Chamber

Roads and Transportation: 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. in 215E

Finance: 2 p.m. in 460M

Gov. Org.: 2 p.m. in 215E

Education: 2:30 p.m. in 434M

 

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. on Monday.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 03:18 PM

Senate Government Organization Committee Reports Five Bills

The Senate Government Organization Committee met today and reported five bills. The bills reported were SB 346, SB 180, SB 235, SB 221, and SB 190.

Senate Bill 346 would relate generally to jurisdiction of PSC over motor carriers. The bill was reported to the full Senate with recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 180 would relate to PSC jurisdiction over certain telephone company and internet services. The bill was reported to the full Senate with recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 235 would relate to motorcycle registration renewal. The bill was reported to the Committee on Finance with the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 221 would relate to the composition of the PEIA Finance Board. It reduces the board from ten to eight members and also requires specific qualifications of those members. The bill was reported to the full Senate with recommendation that it pass. 

Senate Bill 190 would eliminate bidders' preference for in-state vendors on state contracts. The bill was reported to the full Senate with recommendation that it pass.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 03:03 PM

ACT Testing Bill Approved, Pilot Program Postponed in Senate Education

The Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that would require ACT and ACT Aspire to be used as the official comprehensive statewide student assessment.

The bill, SB 18, was reviewed by a subcommittee with Senator Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson) as the Chair and Robert Plymale (D-Wayne) and Charles Trump (R-Morgan) as memebers.

The subcommittee culminated a report to present to the committee on the bill. The amendments suggested in the report were approved.

The bill will be referred to Senate Finance once reported to the floor.

The committee postponed decision on SB 251, which would create a three-year pilot program to establish school-based mental and behavioral health services for students and families as an alternative to standard disciplinary measures.

Dept. of Education Assisstant Director Justin Boggs said many schools have been requesting this kind of program to give students the attention they need, as well as keep kids out of juvenille centers.

The bill will be discussed in a future committee meeting.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 02:30 PM

House Banking and Insurance Discuss Five Bills Today

House Banking and Insurance met today to discuss five bills and four move on to other committees; two will be discussed more in the next meeting. 

HB 2619 would adopt the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Risk Management and Own Risk Solvency Assessment Model Act for implementation by West Virginia insurers so that they are better equipped to assess their financial condition and remain solvent. If passed, this bill would take effect January 1, 2018. This bill will be reported to the floor with do recommendation that it do pass, but first be referred to the Judiciary Committee. 

HB 2471 would require insurance coverage for breast cancer screening be provided by the Public Employees Insurance Agency, accident and sickness insurance providers, group accident and sickness insurance providers. If passed, this bill would take effect January 1, 2018. This bill is to help with the "next step" after an issue is found in a mammogram. It would help cover the ultra sound to discover the details of the issue. This bill will be reported to the floor with the recommendation that it do pass, but first be refered to Finance Committee. 

HB 2460 would require teleheath services be treated the same as in person treatment. This bill will be reported to the floor with the recommendation that it do pass, but first be refered to the Committee on Health and Human Resources. 

Discussion on HB 2439 and HB 2672 will continue at the next meeting. 

HB 2439 would prohibit civil or administration action for unfair claim settlement practices against individuals and to require that these actions may only be maintained against insurance companies. This bill was laid over to the next meeting.

HB 2672 would eliminate conflicting provisions within current code relating to the application of payment and the assessment of delinquency fees on consumer credit sales and consumer loans.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 02:20 PM

Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining Reports SB 16

The Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining met today and reported SB 16 out of the committee.

Senate Bill 16 would repeal a section of code that would give tax exemptions to wind related power projects.

Brian Brown, a representative of Next Era Energy Resources said that the company he represents owns the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center that was built in 2002. He said that they were planning an expansion that would bring in property tax revenue. Removing the tax exemptions from wind projects would put the project in jeopardy.

The next presenter said that the tax breaks started in 2001. He elaborated that businesses come to West Virginia expecting these breaks and that it isn't fair to repeal them once these projects are built. Senator Mullins (R-Raleigh) said that 14 years is a long time to be propped up by the state and that they shouldn't expect them forever.

Senator Blair (R-Berkeley) said that other businesses don't get these tax breaks and that it is unfair now that they are turning a profit. 

Senator Facemire (D-Braxton) said that the amount that they no longer exempt is negotiable but they need the industry to work with the legislature.

Senate Bill 16 was then reported to the Senate Committee on Finance with the recommendation that it pass.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 02:07 PM

Senate Health Approves Two Bills, Postpones Bill on SNAP Requirments

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources has approved two bills to be reported to the floor with the recommendation that they pass.

SB 4 would allow certain licensed professionals to donate their time to the care of the indigent and the needy in this state for up to seven days at a time, despite the professional only being licensed in a different state.

The bill was passed by the legislature last year but was vetoed by former governor Earl Ray Tomblin due to a provision in the bill that would allow volunteering professionals to gain credit for their time against continuing education requirements needed to maintain their license. 

The provision has been removed from this year's bill by the committee's counsel to encourage passage.

CEO of West Virginia Health Right Dr. Angie Settle spoke to the committee in support of the bill. She said the bill would allow practitioners from other states to be able to help West Virginia in states of emergency, particularly, such as during the flood crisis during the summer of 2016.

SB 347 would modernize the Physician Assistants Practice Act by altering the make-up of the Board of Medicine to include a second physician assistant, allowing physician assistants to prescribe Schedule II and Schedule III drugs in certain circumstances, elimininating the need for a recertification exam once the physician assistant is board certified and allowing physician assistants to be reimbursed at the same rate as physicians and advance practice registered nurses.

The committee also moved to postone their decision on the last bill under consideration, SB 60, until a future meeting date.

SB 60 would provide for eligibility and fraud requirements for public assistance by requiring the Department of Health and Human Resources to implement work requirements for applicants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples addressed concerns from committee members about untintended consequences of the bill, such as how the bill would apply to counties suffering from an economic depression or how the bill relates to other federal services.

Samples said the bill was originally introduced to address high unemployment rates in the state.

Senate Bills 4 and 347 will be referred to Senate Judiciary once reported to the floor.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 01:03 PM

Bill to Rename Court of Claims passes in House

Today in the House of Delegates three bills were passed. Committee Substitute of HB 2447 passed 66-34.

HB 2447 renames the Court of Claims as the state Claims Commission and renames the judge as commissioners. It provides the explicit powers for the removal of commissioners and authority to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance for the hiring of a clerk, chief deputy clerk, and deputy clerks. It also shortens the procedure for certain road condition claims. 

Committee Substitutes of HB 2404 and HB 2465 also passed unanimously today. 

HB 2404 keeps persons who are convicted of certain criminal offenses from acquiring property from their victims through joint tenancy or inheritance. 

HB 2465 modifies the requirements that allow a child witness to testify by closed circuit television. 

Committee Meetings Today

Banking and Insurance: 1 p.m. in 410M

Senior Citizen Issues: 1 p.m. in 215E

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

Energy: 2 p.m. in 410M

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 3:30 p.m.

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Finance: 9 a.m. in 460M

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 410M

Education: 9 a.m. in 434M

On Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the House Chamber, there will be Public Hearing of the Judiciary Committee on HB 2506- Relating to the implementation of water quality standards for the protection of drinking water. 

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 12:26 PM

Senate Passes Senate Bills 182 and 240

The Senate met today to pass two bills today. The bills were SB 182 and SB 240. Upon passage they were sent to the House.

Senate Bill 182 would provide procedures that would prevent disqualifying low bids for government construction contracts due to document technicalities.

Senate Bill 240 would create the crime of nonconsensual distribution of sexual images.

Bills on second reading that advanced to third reading today were SB 41, SB 113, and SB 325. SB 330 was laid over for one day.

Senate Bills 405-425 were introduced.

Senate Resolution 20 was adopted today and recognized the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine for its excellence in medical education and its contribution to Greenbrier County.

Senate Resolution 21 was also adopted today and designated February 23, 2017 as WV Local Foods Day.

The following committees meet today:

Energy, Industry and Mining at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Government Organization at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Tomorrow Confirmations will meet at 10 a.m. in 208W.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 11:10 AM

Senate Workforce Approves Bills Related to Employee Wages

The Senate Workforce Committee has approved two bills with the recommendation that they pass.

SB 224 would repeal the requirement for an employer’s bond for wages and benefits for certain designated employers and related requirements.

Senator Glenn Jeffries (D-Putnam) proposed an amendment to the bill that would raise the maximum fine to $60,000 from the original $30,000 for any person, firm or corporation who knowingly, willfully and fraudulently disposes of or relocates assets with intent to deprive employees of their wages and fringe benefits.

Jeffries said he believed this would help to "catch larger companies" that commit more serious crimes with employees' wages.

Senator Ryan Weld (R-Brooke) voiced his support for the amendment. The amendment was unanimously approved.

SB 239 would protect an employee’s wages or salaries from being withheld or diverted for political activities without the express, written authorization of the employee.

Senior vice president of AFL-CIO Bob Brown spoke in opposition of the bill on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers in West Virginia, since the bill would add another form to be considered from the Secretary of State's Office by members of labor organizations.

Brown said the additional form would simply be an "administrative burden" and "another layer of paper and bureaucracy" for a system that already works with the initial forms received by labor organizations.

President of the West Virginia Education Association Dale Lee also spoke against the bill for similar reasons.

"We religiously file reports to the Secretary of State's Office," Lee said. "There's never been a question about any contributions."

Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) voiced his opposition to the bill, asking Republican members to do the same, since he said they often support the party ideal of eliminating bureaucracy.

Both bills will be referred to Senate Judiciary once reported to the floor.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 04:27 PM

Senate Judiciary Reports Two Bills, One Comm. Sub. to the Floor

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved two bills and one committee substitute to be reported to the floor with the recommendation that they pass.

ORG 1 is a bill created by the Senate Judiciary that would repeal a Division of Natural Resources legislative rule realing to the Litter Control Grant Program, since the Department of Environmental Protection is now in authority over the program.

SB 214 would adopt the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act to preserve and protect certain legal material in official electronic records that may be unavailable in physical form.

The committee substitute for SB 125 contains nine seperate bills relating to authorizing the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate legislative rules. These bills are SB 118 through SB 126.

SB 118 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate a legislative rule relating to expedited partner therapy.

SB 119 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate a legislative rule relating to clinical laboratory technician and technologist licensure and certification.

SB 120 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate a legislative rule relating to clandestine drug laboratory remediation.

SB 121 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate a legislative rule relating to medication-assisted opioid treatment programs.

SB 122 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate a legislative rule relating to office-based, medication-assisted treatment.

SB 123 would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to exemption from certificate of need.

SB 124 would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to Rural Health Systems Grant Program.

SB 125 would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to the Hospital Assistance Grant Program.

SB 126 would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to certificate of need.

Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan), Chair, removed SB 55 from consideration on the agenda for today, but said the bill would be revisited in a future meeting.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 03:58 PM

Four Bills Moved through House Judiciary Today

The House Judiciary Committee met at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and moved HB 2506, HB 2486, HB 2083, and HB 2585.

HB 2506 would require permits limits to be calculated using design flows recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for protection of human health. It's a technical bill and it was said the bill would not alter the existing quality standards. It allows for overlapping of mixing zones, which could lead to more carcinogens and toxins released into streams and rivers. 

HB 2486 would allow medical records and releases for medical information to be requested and required without a court order, when a party's health condition is at issue in a civil action. 

HB 2083 would increase the penalties from exposing children to methamphetamine manufacturing from 2-10 years to 3-15 years.

HB 2585 would create criminal offenses relating to money laundering. Two new felonies are specified in the bill: laundering criminal proceeds through financial transaction and the transportation, transmission, or transfer of criminal proceeds. 



Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 03:15 PM

Senate Pensions Approves Four Bills

The Senate Pensions Committee has approved four bills to be reported to the floor with the recommendation to pass.

SB 321 would provide minimum reporting requirements for employee information to the Consolidated Public Retirement Board.

SB 354 would permit municipalities with policemen’s and firemen’s pension plans fully funded at or above 125 percent to not pay normal cost into the pension plans.

SB 355 would update the required minimum distribution laws to be in compliance with federal internal revenue code requirements.

SB 371 would require the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to adopt a four-year smoothing method relating to actuarial gains and losses on Teachers Retirement System Fund assets.

Senate Bills 354, 355 and 371 will be referred to Senate Finance once reported to the floor.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 02:52 PM

Senate Economic Development Approves Two Tax Credits

The Senate Economic Development Committee has approved two bills to be reported to the floor that would create two new tax credits for the state.

The first, SB 238, would increase the tax credits allowed for rehabilitation of certified historic structures from the current 10% percent to a 25% percent credit.

The bill was on layover from the last committee meeting, since members wished to review the fiscal note further. 

The second, SB 341, would establish a tax credit for West Virginia business growth in low-income communities. 

Advantage Capital spokesman Ryan Dressler discussed his support for the bill and said West Virginia has "underperformed" in providing finances for growing small businesses throughout the state.

Dressler said this bill would help investment companies and Community Development Entities provide existing businesses with the funding necessary for expansion.

Both bills will be referred to Senate Finance once reported to the floor.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 01:51 PM

Seven Bills Passed in House

Today seven bills were passed by the House of Delegates.

Com. Sub. for HB 2167 creates a Silver Alert program for senior citizens. It sets guidelines to be met before a Silver Alert can be activated. 

HB 2300 regulates the use of step therapy protocols by providing a simple and quick process for exceptions to the protocols that the health care provider deems not in the best interests of the patient.

Com. Sub for HB 2301 permits individuals to enter into agreements for direct primary care with an individual or other legal entity authorized to provide primary care services, outside of an insurance plan or outside of the Medicaid or Medicare program and pay for the care. 

Com. Sub. for HB 2318 strengthens and establishes criminal offenses relating to human trafficking. 

Com. Sub. for HB 2347 allows schools licensed to provide barber, cosmetology and related training to hold theory classes and clinical classes at different locations and prohibit schools from being established in salons, spas, and similar locations. 

HB 2348 eliminates any requirement that class hours of students be consecutive when studying professions regulated by the board of Barbers and Cosmetologists. 

HB 2431 allows influenza immunizations to be offered to patients and residents if specified facilities on a voluntary basis based upon recommendations of the Center for Disease Control.

Committee Meetings Today

Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security: 1:15 p.m.

Judiciary: 2 p.m. in 410M

Finance: 2 p.m. in 460M

Gov. Org.: 2 p.m. in 215E

Education: 2 p.m. in 434M

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development: 9 a.m. in 434M

Judiciary Sub-Committee on HB 2364: 10 a.m. in 410M

Banking and Insurance: 10 p.m. in 215E

Senior Citizen Issues: 1 p.m. in 215E

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

Energy: 2 p.m. in 410M

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 3:30 p.m. in 215E

Education Sub-Committee on K-12 Issues: 4:30 p.m. in 434M

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 01:40 PM

Senate Passes Three Bills and Discusses Budget

Today the Senate met and passed three bills and also discussed the budget. The bills that were passed and sent on to the house were SB 188, SB 222, and SB 242.

Senate Bill 188 would correct the definition of "telehealth" in medication-assisted treatment programs.

Senate Bill 222 would relate to disqualification for unemployment benefits. Senator Trump (R-Morgan) said this bill makes it clear that those who are on strike cannot receive unemployment benefits. Other senators had concerns that this bill would make it harder for those who were locked out of their places of employment and who couldn't work because of it to get unemployment benefits. The bill passed with a vote of 22 yeas and 11 nays.

Senate Bill 242 would relate to school calendars.

Senate bills 387-404 were introduced today.

Senate Resolution 18 was adopted which would designate the week of March 5th-11th, 2017 as MS Awareness Week. Senator Ojeda (D-Logan) said that he supported the resolution and reminded the Senate of his proposed bill to legalize medical marijuana and how much it could help those who suffer from MS.

Bills on second reading were SB 182 which had an amendment that was adopted, SB 240, and SB 330 which will lie over one day.

Many senators discussed their concerns over Governor Justice's proposed budget bill. After encouragement of bipartisanship in this matter by both parties, Senator Palumbo (D-Kanawha) said that the Senate needs to "shut up and do our jobs" in regard to the budget.

The following committees are meeting:

Finance at 3 p.m. and tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in 451M.

Economic Development at 1:20 p.m. in 208W.

Agriculture at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Pensions at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Workforce at 10 a.m. tomorrow in 208W.

 

 

The Senate has adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 03:47 PM

Senate Energy Considers Eliminating Tax Credit for Wind Power

The Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining has postponed making a decision on whether or not to approve of a bill that would repeal tax credits for wind power projects in the state. 

The bill, SB 16, would eliminate a section of the Code that was added in 2001.

The fiscal note for the bill states that the elimination of this section would be of no cost to the state government and would include an annual increase of $8 million annually in revenue, starting in fiscal year 2019.

Some senators raised concerns toward the constitutionality of the bill, since they believed the bill could violate the protection of private property by eliminating a tax credit those properties might rely on.

Staff counsel said the bill would most likely not violate the state constitution, since a tax credit would affect the money of an individual, not the property directly.

Judy Rodd of Friends of Blackwater spoke in support of the bill. She said the wind power projects around the state have brought certain liabilities to the surrounding communities.

Specifically, Rodd said many people have confronted wind power companies about the noise produced by the wind turbines, the decline in property value they can cause, and the danger they pose to birds in the state.

Rodd also mentioned that eliminating the tax credit could help with the budget gap by giving the state $8 million more annually.

"This would be a good place to look," Rodd said.

Bruce Burcat spoke on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition in opposition to the bill and said it would be "a significant detriment to [wind power] industry in West Virginia."

Burcat said the wind turbines have affected the state in a positive way to create clean energy solutions and provide jobs. He said repealing the tax credit would create a poor business environment for companies wishing to bring wind power projects to the state.

Currently, Burcat said states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania offer "favorable" tax credits for wind power projects.

The committee also moved consideration of bills SB 42 and SB 43 to the next meeting.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 03:40 PM

Senate Education Approve Medicaid Related Bill, Postpone ACT Testing Bill

The Senate Education Committee has approved a bill relating to the State Board of Education and Medicaid-elligible children to be reported to the Senate floor.

The bill, SB 231, would allow the State Board of Education to delegate its Medicaid provider status and subsequent reimbursement to regional educational service agencies (RESAs) or county boards subject to the county board determining that there is a net benefit and no detraction from the educational program of the county.

SB 18 was appropriated to a sub-committee today after decision on the bill was postponed during the last Senate Education meeting Thursday, Feb. 16.

The bill would require ACT and ACT Aspire to be used as the official comprehensive statewide student assessment.

A subcommittee consisting of Senators Patricia Rucker (R-Jefferson), Robert Plymale (D-Wayne) and Charles Trump (R-Morgan) will further research and discuss the bill for the next committee meeting.

The committee will next meet Thursday, Feb. 23 at a time yet to be determined. 



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 02:53 PM

Committee on Senate Government Organization Reports Three Bills

Today the Senate Committee on Government Organization met and reported three bills to the Committee on Judiciary with recommendation that they pass. The bills were SB 204, SB 349, and SB 337.

Senate Bill 204 would require people who are appointed to fill a vacancy by the Governor to have the same qualifications for the vacated office and receive the same compensation and expenses.

Senate Bill 349 would repeal outdated code related to the Division of Corrections.

Senate Bill 337 would relate to hiring correctional officers without regard to placement on the correctional officer register.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 02:04 PM

Health and Human Resources Committee Reports Two Bills to Judiciary Committee

Today the Health and Human Resources Committee met and reported two bills to the Judiciary Committee with recommendation that they pass as amended. The bills were SB 121 and SB 122.

Senate Bill 121 would alter a rule from the Department of Health and Human Resources to medication-assisted opioid treatment programs. The amendments added on by council are technical to make sure the rule gets implemented properly.

Senate Bill 122 would be a new rule from the DHHR and would relate to medication-assisted treatment and office based medication-assisted treatment. This rule was also amended by council and recommended that it pass.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 12:14 PM

Six bills advance to Third reading and three advance to Second reading

Today in the House of Delegate six bills were read a second time today and advanced to third reading. 

HB 2167 would establish a Silver Alert program for senior citizens and it would set criteria for when State Police can activate the Silver Alert.

HB 2300 would regulate the use of step therapy protocols by providing a simple and quick process for exceptions to the protocols that the health care provider deems not in the best interest of the patient. 

HB 2301 would permit individuals to enter into agreements for direct primary care with an individual or other legal entity authorized to provide primary care services, outside of an insurance plan or outside of the Medicaid or Medicare program and pay for the care. 

HB 2347 would allow schools licensed to provide barber, cosmetology and related training to hold theory classes and clinical classes at different locations and prohibits schools from being established in salons, spas, and similar locations. 

HB 2348 would eliminate any requirement that class hours of students be consecutive when studying professions regulated by the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologist. 

HB 2431 would allow influenza immunizations to be offered to patients and residents of specified facilities on a voluntary basis based upon recommendation of the Center for Disease Control.

Three bills were read for the first time and advanced on to second reading. 

HB 2404 would keep persons who are convicted of certain criminal offenses from acquiring property from their victims through joint tenancy or inheritance. The bill also creates exceptions. 

HB 2447 would rename the Court of Claims of the state as Claims Commission and rename the judges as commissioners. 

HB 2465 would modify the requirements that allow a child to witness to testify by closed circuit television. 

Committee Meetings Today

Political Subdivisions: 1 p.m. in 215E

Health: 2 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary Sub-Committee on HB 2544: 3 p.m. in 410M

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 3:30 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Finance: 9 a.m. in 460M

Education: 9 a.m. in 434M

Gov. Org: 9 a.m. in 215E

Judiciary: 9:30 a.m. in 410M

Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security: 1 p.m. in 434M

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 12:14 PM

Six bills advance to Third reading and three advance to Second reading

Today in the House of Delegate six bills were read a second time today and advanced to third reading. 

HB 2167 would establish a Silver Alert program for senior citizens and it would set criteria for when State Police can activate the Silver Alert.

HB 2300 would regulate the use of step therapy protocols by providing a simple and quick process for exceptions to the protocols that the health care provider deems not in the best interest of the patient. 

HB 2301 would permit individuals to enter into agreements for direct primary care with an individual or other legal entity authorized to provide primary care services, outside of an insurance plan or outside of the Medicaid or Medicare program and pay for the care. 

HB 2347 would allow schools licensed to provide barber, cosmetology and related training to hold theory classes and clinical classes at different locations and prohibits schools from being established in salons, spas, and similar locations. 

HB 2348 would eliminate any requirement that class hours of students be consecutive when studying professions regulated by the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologist. 

HB 2431 would allow influenza immunizations to be offered to patients and residents of specified facilities on a voluntary basis based upon recommendation of the Center for Disease Control.

Three bills were read for the first time and advanced on to second reading. 

HB 2404 would keep persons who are convicted of certain criminal offenses from acquiring property from their victims through joint tenancy or inheritance. The bill also creates exceptions. 

HB 2447 would rename the Court of Claims of the state as Claims Commission and rename the judges as commissioners. 

HB 2465 would modify the requirements that allow a child to witness to testify by closed circuit television. 

Committee Meetings Today

Political Subdivisions: 1 p.m. in 215E

Health: 2 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary Sub-Committee on HB 2544: 3 p.m. in 410M

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 3:30 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Finance: 9 a.m. in 460M

Education: 9 a.m. in 434M

Gov. Org: 9 a.m. in 215E

Judiciary: 9:30 a.m. in 410M

Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security: 1 p.m. in 434M

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 12:06 PM

Senate Passes Three Bills To the House Today

The Senate met today and passed three bills. These bills were SB 134, SB 202, and SB 249.

Senate Bill 134 would authorize the Bureau of Commerce to promulgate legislative rules.

Senate Bill 202 would relate to pawn brokers and gift cards. The bill's purpose is to stop any money laundering that can occur with gift cards in pawn shops.

Senate Bill 249 would relate to information required in abstract of judgement.

Senate Resolution 17 was adopted today. It designates February 21, 2017 as celebrating children and families day.

Bills on second reading were SB 188, SB 222, SB 242, and SB 330. SB 330 was requested to lie over one day.

Senate bills 357-386 were introduced.

The following committees meet today:

Energy, Industry and Mining at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Government Organization at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

The committee on Workforce will meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow in 208W.

 

The senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 10:47 AM

Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Reports Three Bills Today

Today the Senate Committee reported three bills out of the committee. They were SB 210, SB 164, and SB 173.

Senate Bill 210 would Provide for fair distribution of costs for county development by authorizing assessment and collection of fees. The two amendments for the bill give counties more flexibility in how much they collect. Senator Rucker (R-Jefferson) wanted to be sure that people wouldn't be getting double taxed and was assured my council that they wouldn't. The bill was then referred to the committee on finance and was given the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 164 would relate to traffic regulations and special load limits. It would allow for extra space for large things coming off of a truck. It is geared towards transporting power poles. Senator Beach (D-Monongalia) wanted to be sure there were no weight limit changes to make sure bridges would be safe. Council assured him that there aren't. The bill was then reported to the floor with recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 173 would define an aoutocycle for the road as a three wheeled enclosed vehicle that meets all the safety requirements as a car. It was given the recommendation that it pass and was reported out of the committee.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 09:47 AM

Eleven Bills Presented in House Ag. and Natural Resource Committee

The House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee met this morning and discussed five agriculture bills and six natural resource bills. 

HB 2218 would authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a legislative rule relating to Dangerous Wild Animals.

HB 2219 would authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a legislative rule relating to Livestock Care Standards. 

HB 2233 would authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a legislative rule relating to Animal Disease Control.

HB 2234 would authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a legislative rule relating to Captive Cervid. 

HB 2296 would authorize the Board of Veterinary Medicine to issue a legislative rule relating to Standards of Practice.

HB 2231 would authorize the Division of Natural Resources to issue a legislative rule relating to the Point System of the Revocation of Hunting- Repeal.

HB 2248 would authorize the Dangerous Wild Animal Board to issue a legislative rule relating to the board.

HB 2268 would authorize the Division of Natural Resources to issue a legislative rule relating to Revocation of Hunting and Fishing Licenses. 

HB 2269 would authorize the Division of Natural Resources to issue a legislative Rule relating to Special Waterfowl Hunting.

HB 2270 would authorize the Division of Natural Resources to issue a legislaitve rule relating to the Commercial Sale of Wildlife.

HB 2271 would authorize the Division of Natural Resources to issue a legislative rule relating to Miscellaneous Permits and Licenses.

 



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 04:43 PM

Senate Judiciary Approves Drone Regulations

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported a bill to the full Senate that would regulate unmanned aircraft systems, otherwise known as drones.

The bill, SB 9, would place restrictions on the use of drones, as well as provide criminal offenses and penalties for certain conduct while using a drone.

Most members were concerned with FAA safety regulations and constitutional considerations with the bill, including what distance would constitute an invasion of privacy, whether or not captured images could be published, etc.

The committee substitute of the bill was amended by Senators Ryan Weld (R-Brooke), Mike Romano (D-Harrison) and Robert Karnes (R-Upshur) to include some technical corrections, added restrictions, and considerations regarding the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Legal counsel to the committee Tom Smith said the purpose of the bill is to "fill in the blanks" of federal legislation regarding drones.

Members of the committee also considered a committee substitute containing SBs 105-113, as well as SB 41 and SB 236.

 



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 04:41 PM

Thirteen Bills Discussed in House Gov. Org.

Today, the House Government Organization Committee Meet and heard 13 pieces of legislation. 

HB 2286 would authorize the Secretary of State to issue a legislative rule relating to Voter Registration at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

HB 2287 would authorize the Secretary of State to issue a legislative rule relating to Voter Registration List Maintenance by the Secretary of State.

HB 2278 would authorize the Public Service Commission to issue a legislative rule relating to Telephone Conduit Occupancy.

HB 2285 would authorize the State Board of Sanitarians to issue a legislative rule relating to Practice of Public Health Sanitation.

HB 2289 would authorize the Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology to issue a legislative rule relating to Licensure of Speech-Pathology and Audiology.

HB 2250 would authorize the Ethics Commission to issue a legislative rule relating to Private Gain.

HB 2235 would authorize the Board of Architects to issue a legislative rule relating to the Registration of Architects.

HB 2236 would authorize the Athletic Commission to issue a legislative rule relating to Administrative Rule of the West Virginia State Athletic Commission.

HB 2237 would authorize the Athletic Commission to issue a legislative rule relating to Regulations of Mixed Martial Arts.

HB 2247 would authorize the Board of Examiners in Counseling to issue a legislative rule relating to Marriage and Family Therapist License Renewal and Continuing Professional Education Requirement.

HB 2244 would authorize the Board of Examiners in Counseling to issue a legislative rule relating to Licensed Professional Counselor Fees.

HB 2245 would authorize the Board of Examiners in Counseling to issue a legislative rule relating to Licensed Professional Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Professional Education Requirements.

HB 2246 would authorize the Board of Examiners in Counseling to issue a legislative rule relating to Marriage and Family Therapist Fees.

 

All bills were approved to the committee and will be sent to the floor with the recommendation that they do pass but first be referred to the judiciary. 



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 04:04 PM

House Education Committee Reports House Bill 2420

The House Education Committee met today to discuss House Bill 2420

House Bill 2420 would provide that the State Board of Education may delegate its Medicaid provider status and subsequent reimbursement to regional educational service agencies or county boards. The bill was referred to the Health and Human Resources Committee with the recommendation that it pass on the floor.

They also had a presentation on the Community and Technical College System in West Virginia. The presenter emphasized that the average age of a student attending these colleges is 28 years old and that they have more bills to pay, families to care for, and jobs to work than the average college student. This means that if tuition to these schools goes up by even a little then the head count will go down as it will be less affordable for these students who are working to pay their way through school. The presenter also said that their goal is to provide the support that community and technical college students need in West Virginia.



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 02:00 PM

Senate Natural Resources Approves Sunday Hunting Statewide

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources has approved a bill that would allow hunting and trapping throughout the state on Sundays.

The bill, SB 345, amends certain sections of the Code to allow hunting on Sundays across the state, rather than leaving the decision up to county-wide elections.

Sunday hunting would only be permitted on private lands with the consent of the landowner.

National Shooting Sports Foundation advocate Jason Webb said the bill would be able to attract tourism to the state, by attracting hunters who normally have to travel to Ohio, Kentucky or Virginia to hunt on Sundays.

The fiscal note for the bill also shows that passing the bill could add just over $600,000 in general revenue annually.

As of now, 42 states allow hunting on Sundays.

The bill will be reported to Senate Judiciary for a second reference.

Members of the committee also voted to report SB 325 to the floor with the recommendation that it pass to clarify licensing for the use of a crossbow during crossbow deer season.



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 12:57 PM

Bill Increasing Penalties for Littering Passes

Today on the House floor HB 2303 and HB 2319 passed. 

HB 2303 increases the penalties for littering. 

HB 2319 requires legislators to disclose contributions and fund-raising events while the Legislature is in session. Information must be provided within 5 days of the event or receipt of contribution. 

Seven bills were on first reading today:

Committee Meetings Today

Roads and Transportation: 1 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary: Resuming at 2 p.m. in 410M

Finance: 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. for budget hearings in 460M

Education: 2 p.m. in 434M

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Ag. and Nat. Resources: 8:30 a.m. in 215E

Industry and Labor: 10 a.m. in 215E

Political Subdivisions: 1 p.m. in 215E

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment: 3:30p.m. in 215E

 



Monday, February 20, 2017 - 12:44 PM

Five Bills Pass the Senate Floor Today

The Senate met today and passed five bills. These bills were SB 116, SB 172, SB 215, SB 247, and SB 248.

Senate Bill 172 would eliminate the salary for Water Development Authority board members.

Senate Bill 215 would allow county commissions authority to amend proposed rates, fees and charges proposed by the public.

Senate Bills 247 and 248 relate to the legislative Commission on Special Investigations. SB 247 would authorize a prosecuting attorney to designate and deliver grand jury records for investigative purposes. SB 248 would clarify the composition and chairmanship of the Commission on Special Investigations.

The bills moving from second reading to third reading are SB 134, SB 202, and SB 249.

Senate Bills 350 - 356 were introduced today.

Senate Resolution 15 was adopted today which recognizes the centennial year of the City of Nitro.

Senate Resolution 16 was adopted today which recognizes June as West Virginia Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Month and June 27 as West Virginia Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Day.

The following committees are meeting today:

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Natural Resources at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Banking and Insurance at 2 p.m. 451M.

The following committees meet tomorrow:

Transportation and Infrastructure at 10 a.m. in 451M.

Military at 10 a.m. in 208W.

 

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Friday, February 17, 2017 - 02:50 PM

Select Committee on Tax Reform Meets to Discuss Upcoming Bill 335

Today the Select Committee on Tax Reform met and listened to two presenters give their advice on the upcoming SB 335.

Ted Boettner spoke about the dangers of eliminating the income tax. He said replacing the income tax with a consumption tax would hurt spenders with lower incomes. He went on to discuss Kansas and what has happened to them economically since they underwent a similar tax reform. Senator Ferns (R-Ohio) brought up that there were many factors to Kansas' economic state and that it can’t all be contributed to their tax reform.

John Deskins, Ph.D. spoke to the committee on the three principles of taxes. He said that taxes should be simple, efficient, and fair and that an elimination of the income tax and replacement with a consumption tax may help to promote those principles. He also brought up that there are currently no taxes on services and there isn't a reason why besides that it is difficult.

 

 



Friday, February 17, 2017 - 12:26 PM

Erin's Law Heads to Senate

Today, in the House of Delegates HB 2099, Erin's Law, was passed. It will now go to the Senate for further discussion. 

HB 2099 defines the act of leaving the scene of an accidet involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony and establishes the act of leaving the scene of a creash tht does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor; it also defines bodily injury and seious bodily injury. 

HB 2303 and HB 2319 were both on 2nd readings today. 

HB 2303 would increase the fines and community service hours for littering. 

HB 2319 would require members of the Legislature to disclose contributions and fund-raising events while the Legislature is in session. 

HB 2529 would add "sexual orientation" to the categories covered by the Human Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination in employment and place of public accommodation. The bill adds "age" and "sexual orientation" to the categories covered by the Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination in housing. 

Committee Meetings Today

Judiciary: continuing at 12:30 p.m. in 434M

Committee Meetings Monday

Ag. and Nat. Res.: 8:30 a.m. in 215E

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 410M

Sub-Committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior: 9 a.m. in 215E

Roads and Transportation: 1 p.m. in 215E

Gov. Org.: 2 p.m. in 215E

Education: 2 p.m. in 434M

Finance: 2 p.m. for a Supreme Court Hearing; 3 p.m. Hearing from Department of Veteran Affairs in 406M

 



Friday, February 17, 2017 - 12:15 PM

Four Bills Pass in the Senate Today

The Senate met today and passed four bills that were on third reading on to the House. These bills were SB 127, SB 174, SB 230, and SB 233.

Senate Bill 127 would authorize the Department of Revenue to promulgate legislative rules.

Senate Bill 174 would exempt the transportation of household goods from PSC jurisdiction.

Senate Bill 230 would relate to West Virginia officials carrying concealed firearms nationwide.

Senate Bill 233 would exclude from protection oral communication uttered in child care centers under the Wiretapping and Electronic acts.

Bills on second reading today were SB 116, SB 172, SB 215, SB 247, and SB 248. These bills were all moved to third reading.

Senate Bills 340-349 were introduced today.

The following committees will meet today:

Tax Reform at 1 p.m. in 451M.

The subcommittee of Transportation and Infrastructure will meet Monday at 10:30 a.m. in 208W.

 

The senate is adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 04:33 PM

House Committee on Health and Human Resources Reports Seven Bills

The House of Delegates’ Committee on Health and Human Resources met today and reported seven bills with the recommendation that they pass. These bills were HB 2264, HB 2265, HB 2266, HB 2359, HB 2360, HB 2423, and HB 2431.

House Bill 2264 would relate to the West Virginia Board of Licensing and Disciplinary Procedures for physicians and podiatrists authorizing background checks, was amended and referred to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2265 which would requires physicians assistants to obtain background checks, was amended and passed on to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2266 would require licensed practitioners to register with the board of medication for distribution of controlled substances. It was amended to be a sunset law that lasts five years and was referred to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2359 would align penalties of practicing osteopathic medicine without a license with the board of medicine's penalties. It was passed to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2360 would exempt DHHR from a bidding process for finding care companies. This bill was passed to the committee on Government Organization but only with a vote of 14 yeas and 9 nays.

House Bill 2423 would ban MPs and DOs from sexual conduct with patients. The bill was passed to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2431 would have flu shots be required to be offered to hospital patients upon discharge and those in nursing homes. The bill was passed to the House floor.

House Bill 2366 was also discussed in detail. The bill relates to the selling of certain state owned health facilities by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources. It however was laid over to the next meeting.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 04:31 PM

Senate Education Approves SB 242, Postpones Decision on SB 18

The Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that would modify primary and secondary school terms.

The bill, SB 242, requires that the instructional term for students begin no earlier than August 10, and end no later than June 10, except for schools operating on a balanced calendar.

The bill also increases number of two-hour blocks for faculty senate meetings from four to six and permits accrued minutes to be used for lost instructional days.

The committee also considered SB 18, which would require ACT and ACT Aspire to be used as the comprehensive statewide student assessment, but voted to postpone any decision on the bill until the next meeting.

Members raised concerns that the bill would approve a business monopoly in school testing for ACT and eliminate the choice for students to take the SAT, which is still accepted by many schools across the country.

SB 200 and SB 273 were referred to the Education sub-comittee on School Choice for more research.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 04:15 PM

Senate Health Approves Bill to Raise Tobacco Age

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources has approved a bill that would raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco, tobacco-derived, alternative nicotine and vapor products to 21 from the original age of 18.

The decision on the bill, SB 37, was heavily debated and narrowly approved, with six votes for and five votes against.

Those opposed to the bill felt that it was not the state's job to dictate the behavior of adults.

Senator Robert Karnes (R-Upshur) said it would be "absurd" to deny tobacco products to those already able to vote or enlist in war, especially since doing so would "create an entirely new class of criminals" who are already addicted to nicotine.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, said the bill would do little to solve current addiction issues, and it would not stop the use of tobacco, as 80 percent of cigarette smokers have had their first cigarettes before the legal age of 18.

Senator Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha), Chair, said while he understands the importance of allowing people to make their own choices, tobacco use has become the most significant health issue in the state.

"This is tough," Takubo said. "But tobacco has shown many times to be more dangerous than heroin."

Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) said the change in legal age could also help save the state Medicare costs, as smoking has shown to be the "number one driver of health care costs."

However, Karnes suggested that the change in legal age could cause the state to lose $6-7 million in tobacco sales.

Stollings also said the bill could help West Virginia to change its status as one of the top states in the nation for tobacco use.

Despite this, Senator Mike Azinger (R-Wood) said the bill seems to be "just political correctness," since it has been proven that those who regularly use tobacco have been using it since before they were of legal age.

He also suggested the bill could be enforcing policies that lie "outside the parameters of constitutional law," since the bill could be seen as "defining morals."

Hawaii and California have already raised the legal age to 21 for purchasing tobacco, and many states appear to be considering such legislation themselves. 

A similar bill is pending before Congress to enact in Washington, D.C.

The committee also approved bills SB 40, SB 187 and SB 188 to go before the floor with the recommendation to pass.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 03:05 PM

Ten Bills Leave House Energy Committee

The House Energy Committee met today and approved HB 2221, HB 2222, HB 2223, HB 2224, HB 2225, HB 2226, HB 2227, HB 2228, HB 2229, and HB 2267.

HB 2221 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Alternative Emission Limitations During Startup, Shutdown, and Maintenance Operations. 

HB 2222 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Ambient Air Quality Standards. 

HB 2223 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Permits for Construction, Modification, Relocation and Operation of Stationary Sources of Air Pollutants, Notification Requirements, Administrative Updates, Temporary Permits, General Permits, Permission to Commence Construction and Procedures for Evaluation. 

HB 2224 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Permits for Construction and Major Modification of Major Stationary Sources for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration of Air Quality.

HB 2225 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources.

HB 2226 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to the Control of Air Pollution from Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities.

HB 2227 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

HB 2228 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Voluntary Remediation and Redevelopment.

HB 2229 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Awarding of Matching Grants for Local Litter Control Programs.

The above legislation is to meet requirements set by the federal DEP.

HB 2267 would authorize the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training to issue a legislative rule relating to Certification, Recertification and Training of EMT-Miners and the Certification of EMT-M Instructors.

All legislation today will be reported to the House with recommendation that it do pass, but be referred to the Judiciary Committee first. 



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 01:45 PM

Five Bills with DEP Rule Changes Pass Through Senate Energy Committee

The Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee met today to discuss five bills. These bills were SB 106, SB 110, SB 111, SB 112, and SB 113. These bills contain rule modifications that promote consistency in language that goes all the way up to a federal level.

Senate Bill 106 would modify a DEP rule relating to various permits.

Senate Bill 110 would modify a DEP rule relating to emission standards for hazardous air pollutants.

Senate Bill 111 would modify a DEP rule relating to ambient air quality standards.

Senate Bill 112 would modify a DEP rule relating to voluntary remediation and redevelopment.

Senate Bill 113 would modify a DEP rule relating to awarding of matching grants to local litter control.

 

Chair of the committee, Senator Smith (R-Tucker), said this would be the last meeting regarding rule changes and from here on out it would be the "meat and potatoes."



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 01:40 PM

House Senior Citizen Issues Discuss Two Bills

Today the Committee on Senior Citizen Issues met and discussed HB 2404 and HB 2167.

HB 2404 would bar people who are convicted of certain criminal offenses from acquiring property from their victims through joint tenancy or inheritance; the bill also creates exceptions. 

HB 2167 would add senior citizens to the Silver Alert program; the bill also defines a term and provides an establishment date. Silver Alert is a public notification system to broadcast information about missing senior citizens. It uses various media outlets to get information out about the missing persons. 



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 12:25 PM

Erin's Law on Second Reading and 2 other bills on First Reading today in House

Today, the House convened and HB 2099, also know as Erin's Law, was read for second time. HB 2303 and HB 2319 were read for the first time. 

HB 2099 would define the act of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony. The bill also establishes the act of leaving the scene of a crash that does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor and defines bodily injury and serious bodily injury. 

HB 2303 would increase the fines and community service hours for littering. 

HB 2319 would require members of the Legislature to disclose contributions and fund-raising events while the Legislature is in session. 

Committee Meetings Today

Senior Citizens Issues: 1 p.m. in 215E

Energy: 2 p.m. in 410M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse: 3:30 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 434M

Sub-Committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior: 9 a.m. in 215E

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 11:53 AM

Three Bills Move to Third Reading Today in the Senate

Today the Senate moved three bills from second to third reading. The bills moved were SB 127, SB 230, and SB 233.

Senate Bill 127 would authorize the Department of Revenue to promulgate legislative rules.

Senate Bill 230 would relate to West Virginia officials carrying concealed firearms nationwide.

Senate Bill 233 would exclude protection of oral communication uttered in child care centers from the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act.

Senate Bill 174, which is on third reading, was laid over one day.

Senate Resolution 14 was adopted today which designates February 16, 2017 as West Virginia Homeschool Day.

Senator Woelfel (D-Cabell), during remarks, expressed his opposition to SB 184 which would privatize the West Virginia School of Orthopedic Medicine. He said that the state could potentially lose money on this transaction.

The following meetings are today:

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

Energy, Industry and Mining at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Government Organization at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Tomorrow mornings meetings are:

Judiciary at 9 a.m. in 208W.

Confirmations at 9:30 a.m. in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 10:07 AM

Senate Finance Hears from Attorney General

The Senate Finance Committee heard a presentation 9:30 a.m. Thursday from State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey about the budget needs of the Attorney General's Office.

Morrisey is asking for $4.48 million to be appropriated to the Attorney General's Office from the budget, as opposed to Governor Justice's proposed appropriation of $4.44 million.

Morrisey said the extra funds will be used to provide enough reserves to handle "unpredictable" cases that may either end in a settlement or go to an expensive trial.

In the end, Morrisey said the requested appropriation will also help the Attorney General's Office to stay with in-house counsel and take in the Medicaid Fraud Unit to be "more aggressive" in fighting Medicaid fraud--both of which, Morrisey said, will save money for the state and its taxpayers.

Senate Finance will meet 3 p.m. Thursday in room 451M.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:38 PM

Senate Finance Hears from Treasurer and Auditor

The Senate Finance Committee heard from State Treasurer John Perdue and State Auditor John McCuskey as to their budget requests for the 2018 fiscal year.

The committee first heard from Perdue, who gave a presentation on the accomplishments of the Treasurer's office, as well as the problems they could use more funding for.

Perdue asked the committee to appropriate 3.6 million to the Treasurer's Office, as opposed to the 3.1 million proposed in Governor Justice's budget bill, in order to fund several programs run by the office that Perdue believes would help lift the state out of "tough, tough times."

After a long series of questioning, the committee heard a comparatively short presentation from McCuskey.

McCuskey said the 2.7 million allocated to the Auditor's Office in Justice's budget proposal is "sufficient enough for us to perform our constitutional duties."

Committee Chairman Mike Hall (R-Putnam) reminded the committee after the presentations to research and find any information they might not have been able to acquire from questioning the presenters. 

Senate Finance will meet 9:30 a.m. Thursday in 451M.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:34 PM

House Sub-committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior Reports Seven Bills

The House of Delegates sub-committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior met today and reported seven bills to the committee on Government Organization. The bills were HB 2286, HB 2287, HB 2278, HB 2285, HB 2288, HB 2289 and HB 2250.

House Bill 2286 would change how voter registration works at the DMV. Steve Conley, the Deputy Secretary of State said that the DMV and County Clerks cannot support automatic voter registration and that it is unmanageable for them. He suggested that the previous legislation changing voter registration to an opt in to opt out be repealed or HB 2286 go forward in order for automatic voter registration to continue. HB 2286 was reported to the committee on Government Organization with no recommendation.

House Bill 2287 would remove ineligible voters from the county clerk’s record and was reported to the committee on Government Organization with the recommendation that it is adopted.

House Bill 2285 would modify a rule regarding sanitarians. Included would be redefinitions of some of the language of the rule and an added 60-day grace period with a $50 late fee for finishing continuing education for sanitarians. This bill was amended by Delegate Pat McGeehan (R-Hancock) and was reported to the committee on Government Organization with recommendation that it is adopted. Delegates Mike Caputo (D-Marion) and Jon Williams (D-Monongalia) opposed the amended bill's passage.

House Bill 2288, House Bill 2289, House Bill 2250, and House Bill 2278 were also reported to the committee on Government Organization with the recommendation that they are adopted.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:19 PM

Senate Agriculture Reports One Bill, Postpones Other Bill

The Senate Committee on Agriculture & Rural Development has reported SB 25 to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

SB 25 would establish a credit against personal and corporate income taxes for farmers who donate edible agricultural products to food banks and other nonprofit food programs serving those in need.

A representative thanked the committee on behalf of West Virginia food banks across the state.

The committee also considered SB 27, which would permit home-based, micro-processing foods to be sold at farmers markets under certain requirements, before deciding to postpone their decision on the bill until the next meeting after they are able to find more information on ensuring those foods would be safely administered.

Local West Virginia farmer Pamela Kessler shared her support for SB 27's passage with the committee. She said she has struggled with being able to provide her clients with the products they wish to buy from her.

"Not being able to give your customers what they want, that hurts," Kessler said. "It feels like we are being handcuffed."

Her husband and six children were present with her at the meeting.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:10 PM

Bill to Help WV Schools for the Deaf and Blind Approved in House Education Committee

HB2123 would make the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind eligible to participate in any and all funding administered for distributed by the West Virginia School Building Authority. It was approved by the Education Committee and will be reported to the House floor with the recommendation that it do pass but first be referred to the House Finance Committee. 

During this committee meeting, the WV Higher Education Policy Commission presented an overview and fiscal year 2018 budget analysis. It reported that graduation from WV four-year institutions is up by 16 percent and that the demand for four-year degree holders is increasing. 

A Sub-Committee on K-12 was created and will be chaired by Delegate Upson. Members of the sub-committee include Delegates Dean, Baldwin, Westfall, and Thompson.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 03:57 PM

Senate Economic Development Consider Bill to Revitalize Historic Districts

The Senate Committee on Economic Development considered a bill Wednesday that would help provide more funding to rehabilitation projects for certified historic structures throughout the state.

The bill, SB 238, would raise the tax credit allowed for these projects from 10 percent to 25 percent. 

After hearing from several different supporters of the bill, including representatives from the West Virginia State Preservation Office and the City of Fairmont, the committee voted to postpone their decision on the bill until the next meeting.

Mike Gioulis of Revitalize West Virginia Downtowns said every county except for Clay has a historic district that could benefit from the tax credit increase.

Gioulis said the increase would also attract more projects to the state, that would in turn create more jobs and raise property values for historic cities.

Currently, West Virginia has the lowest tax credit of all surrounding states.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:36 PM

Two Bills Reported from Senate Workforce

The Senate Workforce Committee reported SB 191 and SB 222 to the floor Wednesday with the recommendation to pass.

SB 191 would remove the requirment that programs be jointly administered by labor and management trustees in order to qualify for tax credits for apprenticeship training in construction trades. 

Senator Glenn Jeffries (D-Putnam) suggested two amendments to the bill. The first, which would have added $2 to the applicable minimum wage for those in apprenticeship programs in order to attract individuals who want to learn trade, was rejected by the committee primarily for legal concerns.

The second, which would add a subsection to the bill requiring employers to run apprentices through the E-Verify system in order for them to qualify for the tax credits in the bill, was adopted. The committee approved reporting the amended version of the bill to the floor for passage.

SB 222 would disqualify an individual from receiving benefits for any week, or portion of a week, in which he or she left or lost his or her job as a result of a strike.

Local labor attorney Patrick Maroney said adoption of the bill would be an "intrusion by the state" that would "do more harm to both the company and employees" than good.

He added that the current statute should remain in place, as it has been "very, very good" at maintaining company-employee bargains for nearly 60 years.

However, the committee overall approved the bill to be reported to the floor with the recommendation to pass.

Senators Robert Beach (D-Monongalia) and Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) opposed the bill's passage.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:27 PM

Bill Strengthening the Whistle-blower Law Passes in House

Today, in the House of Delegates HB 2006 was passed. The bill increases the penalties for violating the Whistle-blower Law and authorizes the termination from employment for a violation, instead of the current allowance of a suspension not to exceed six months. 

HB 2099 was read for the first time today. This bill defines the act of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony. It also establishes the act of leaving the scene of a crash that does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor and defines bodily injury and serious bodily injury. 

HB 2455 was introduced today. The bill would create a searchable online database containing past and recent budget and expenditure information creating and maintaining a searchable online budget database to easily access the details on how the state is spending their tax dollars and what performance results are achieved by those expenditures. The State Auditor and Legislative Auditor working in concert are authorized to establish any methods or procedures as necessary to accomplish the intent and goal of this article.

Committee Meetings Today

Finance: 2 p.m. in 406M

Sub-Committee Anti-Competitive Behavior: 2 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary: Continuing at 2:30 p.m. in 410M

Education: 2:30 p.m. in 434M

Gov. Org.: Continuing at 4 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Banking and Insurance: 10 a.m. in 215E

Senior Citizens Issues: 1 p.m. in 215E

Energy: 2 p.m. in 410M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:21 PM

Senate Passes Six Bills Today

The Senate met today and passed six bills. The bills passed were SB 151, SB 169, SB 170, SB 171, SB 176, and SB 237.

Senate Bill 237 would repeal obsolete rules of the Department of Revenue.

Senate Bill 169, Senate Bill 170, Senate Bill 171 and Senate Bill 176 would repeal obsolete and unfunded programs. These programs have been moved to federal funding, were never funded or are no longer necessary. They repeal a state hemophilia program, programs of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly, an article concerning detection of tuberculosis, high blood pressure and diabetes, and an article providing assistance to Korea and Vietnam veterans exposed to certain chemical defoliants.

Senate Bill 151 would authorize the Department of Administration to promulgate the legislative rules.

There were 11 bills that were introduced today. Included were SB 319 and SB 326.

Senate Bill 319 would modify requirements for employing nurses in public schools.

Senate Bill 326 would require the Department of Defense family advocacy groups be notified about abuse or neglect of military member's child.

The following committees meet today:

Economic Development at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Agriculture at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Pensions at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Finance will also meet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

 

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 05:07 PM

Senate Finance Hears from Supreme Court of Appeals

The Senate Finance Committee conducted their first budget hearing Tuesday with Chief Justice Allen Loughry presenting from the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The Court is asking for $141 million for the 2018 fiscal year, as opposed to the $143 million they were provided during the last fiscal year. 

This request accounts for only 1.2 percent of the entire state budget to fund the whole judicial branch for the entirety of the fiscal year.

Loughry suggested that the committee also look into reallocating a few areas in the Court's budget that has caused issues for the branch; particularly, finding new sources of revenue for drug testing, having counties cover rent for family courts, among other issues.

He also said the Court would not be willing to cut court days to four days a week instead of five, as it would disable the Court's ability to administer justice in as many cases as it does.

Senate Finance will meet again tomorrow.

 

 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 04:50 PM

State Superintendent Discusses Issues Facing Education in the State

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano outlined the goals and needs for the Department of Education on Tuesday during the 2018 fiscal year to the Senate Education Committee.

Martirano said the Department of Education has made many fiscal sacrifices over the past five to six years, which appear to correlate with a drop in enrollment. 

After eliminating 80 employees from the Department of Education since June 2011, the state has seen a decrease in enrollment of nearly 9,000 students. 

Not only has enrollment been declining, but West Virginia's teachers remain some of the worst-paid in the nation. According to a 2015-2016 rating by the National Education Association, West Virginia is 46th in the nation for teacher salaries.

Martirano said he is grateful for Governor Justice's decision to try and raise teachers' salaries this fiscal year.

Martirano also highlighted the fact that there are 718 professional educator positions that are now vacant. He cited a study that has shown how good teachers' salaries can fill up these vacancies and make the education system more competitive with other states.

When asked about his opinion on cutting RESAs, Martirano said he cannot issue a public statement until the State Board of Education makes their recommendation.

However, he did advise the committee to review such measures "very artfully," as many specific services previously conducted by RESAs would have to still be performed for the state to move forward.

In total, the Department of Education is asking for $2.4 billion for the 2018 fiscal year.

The committee will continue to review their request.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 04:16 PM

Senate Judiciary Committee Report Three Bills

The Senate Judiciary Committee met today to discuss three bills.

Senate Bill 116 which would modify a rule relating to law enforcement training and certification standards.

Senate Bill 247 would authorize access to the prosecuting attorney delegate and delivery of grand jury records for investigative purposes for the Legislative Commission on Special Investigations.

Senate Bill 248 would clarify composition and chairmanship of Commission on Special Investigations.

 

All three of the bills were reported to the Senate floor with a recommendation that they pass.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 02:00 PM

Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining Met to Discuss Four Bills

The Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee met today to discuss SB 105, SB 107, SB 108, and SB 109.

Senate Bill 105 would create alternate emission limitations during startup, shutdown and maintenance operations.

Senate Bill 107 would modify a rule relating to permits for construction and modification of stationary sources for prevention of significant deterioration of air quality.

Senate Bill 108 would modify a rule relating to standards of performance for new stationary sources.

Senate Bill 109 would modify a rule relating to the control of air pollution from hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities.

 

All four bills were sent back to the Senate floor with recommendation that they pass but first be committed to the committee on Judiciary.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 01:58 PM

Seven Bills Reported from Senate Health and Human Resources

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources reported seven bills to the floor with the recommendation that all pass after being referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bills reported are as follows:

SB 118, which would authorize the DHHR to promulgate a legislative rule relating to expedited partner therapy.

SB 119, which would authorize the DHHR to promulgate a legislative rule relating to clinical laboratory technician and technologist licensure and certification.

SB 120, which would authorize the DHHR to promulgate a legislative rule relating to clandestine drug laboratory remediation.

SB 123, which would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to exemption from the Certificate of Need.

SB 124, which would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to the Rural Health Systems Grant Program.

SB 125, which would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to the Hospital Assistance Grant Program.

SB 126, which would authorize the Health Care Authority to promulgate a legislative rule relating to the Certificate of Need.

No other business came before the committee.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 01:43 PM

House Political Subdivisions Committee discusses two bills

Today, the political subdivisions committee met today to discuss HB 2034 and HB 2238.

HB 2034 would require that a county itemize and publish all activity related to budget stabilization funds in the county's annual financial statements. 

The bill was approved and is to be reported to the floor with recommendation that it pass, but first be referred to the committee on finance.

HB 2238 would authorize the Auditor's Office to put into effect a legislative rule relating to Procedure for Local Levying Bodies to Apply for Permission to Extend Time to Meet as Levying Body. 

The bill was approved by the committee and will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass after being referred to the judiciary committee. 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 01:12 PM

Agriculture Commissioner addresses Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee

Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt spoke to the Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee this morning. 

He talked about how there are new sciences and technologies available. He said we must "protect the old, but look towards the new." He wants to re-align government, not grow it to help bring new technologies into the state. 

Leonhardt discussed the Veterans to Agriculture Program. He gave examples of how beneficial this program is to the veterans and how our state needs to do more for it. He said they are requesting a budget of $250,000 for the program. 

He stressed the critical need for veterinarians in the state. Right now we only have one state veterinarian and he said we need three. He said we need a state veterinarian station in Charleston.

Leonhardt stated that education is the important to agriculture. He said the future of agriculture lies with our children in agriculture programs, such as FFA. He's heard from people all over the state that funding for FFA needs to be increased. 

He said he'd like to see STEM become STEAM- Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics. He's heard many people want to make the "A" in STEAM mean Art, but he said Agriculture is Art. He said, there is "no reason Agriculture and Art can't work closely together." He gave examples of label creations and advertising. 

The Commissioner also mentioned moving Forestry to the Department of Agriculture. 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 12:45 PM

Senate Transportation & Infrastructure Look at SB 210

The Senate Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure evaluated the committee substitute of SB 210 at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

SB 210 provides for the fair distribution of costs for county development, which would consist of authorizing the assessment and collection of fees to offset the cost of development, including industrial development, within those counties.

Several legilators on the committee were concerned with what counties would be elligible for the provisions of the bill, as well as how the infrastructure projects would be funded and carried out.

The counsel Marey Casey said SB 210 is very similar to the SB 12 that the committee passed last year. Casey made technical corrections to the originally introduced bill, accounting for the committee substitute that appeared before the committee in this meeting.

SB 210 has not yet been approved by the committee. Once approved, the bill will be sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

In the meantime, a subcommittee has been formed to look at SB 210 in more depth, with Senator Chandler Swope (R-Mercer) as the Chair and Senators Robert Plymale (D-Wayne) and Mark Maynard (R-Wayne) as members.

Marshall County Commission President Robert A. Miller, Jr. testified before the committee to show his support for the bill's passage, along with Mark Porter of the Public Service Commission and Lisa Dooley of the West Virginia Municipal League.

Members also adopted the rules and agenda for the committee, as well as the motion to have witnesses swear under oath before testifying before the committee.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 12:41 PM

Two Bills sent to Finance and Committee Substitute Considered

Today in the House HB 2007 and HB 2205 were sent to the House Finance Committee to be reviewed and HB 2099 Committee Substitute was requested.

HB 2007 would eliminate the courtesy patrol programs operated by the Division of Highways and the Parkways Authority. If the Finance Committee approves the bill, it will be moved to the floor. 

HB 2205 would exempt heating oil for residential purposes from the Motor Fuel Excise Tax. 

HB 2099 Committee Substitute would define the act of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony. It also establishes the act of leaving the scene of a crash that does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor and defines bodily injury and serious bodily injury. 

 

HB 2006 was read for the second time today and will be voted on tomorrow. 

Committee Meetings Today

Political Subdivisions: 1 p.m. in 434M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

There will be a budget presentation at 4 p.m. in the House Chamber.

Committe Meetings Tomorrow 

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 410M

Gov. Org.: 9 a.m. in 215E

Finance: 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. in 410M

Veterans Affairs and Homland Security: 1 p.m. in 434M

Education: 2:30 p.m. in 434M

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 

 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 12:22 PM

Six Bills Move to Third Reading Today in the Senate

Today the Senate moved six bills into third reading and introduced 39 bills.

The bills moving to third reading are SB 151, SB 176, SB 169, SB 170, SB 171, and SB 237.

Senate Bill 237 would repeal obsolete rules of the Department of Revenue.

Senate Bill 169, Senate Bill 170 and Senate Bill 171 would repeal obsolete and unfunded programs. These programs have been moved to federal funding, were never funded or are no longer necessary. They repeal a state hemophilia program, programs of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly, and an article providing assistance to Korea and Vietnam veterans exposed to certain chemical defoliants.

Senate Bill 151 would authorize the Department of Administration to promulgate the legislative rules.

Introduced bills included are SB 288, SB 309, SB 312, and SB 317

Senate Bill 288 would double the penalties for various child abuse offenses.

Senate Bill 309 would authorize counties to offer customized license plates for that county.

Senate Bill 312 would establish a four-year pilot program to have social workers in public schools.

Senate Bill 317 would authorize a family court judge to order substance abuse counseling of children in emergency situations.

Senate Resolution 13 was adopted today recognizing National Go Red for Women Day, which supports the ongoing fight against heart disease and stroke.

The following committees meet today:

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

Energy, Industry and Mining meets at 1 p.m. in 208W.

The committee on Workforce meets tomorrow at 10 a.m. in 208W.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 04:36 PM

Senate Judiciary Considers Two Bills and a Committee Substitute

The Senate Judiciary Committee has referred two bills and one amended committee substitute to the full Senate after meeting 3 p.m. Monday with the recommendation for passage.

The bills are SB 230 and SB 233, and the committee substitute is for SB 127.

SB 230 relates to West Virginia officials carrying concealed firearms nationwide.

SB 233 excludes from protection oral communications uttered in child care centers under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act.

The committee substitute for SB 127 is a bundle of four bills that authorizes the Department of Revenue to promulgate legislative rules. The bundle was amended by Senator Robert Beach (D-Monongalia) and approved by the committee.

Following completion of the agenda, Senator Mike Romano (D-Harrison) made a motion for all witnesses to be sworn in before testifying to the committee in future meetings. The motion was approved after it was made clear that counsels were not included in the requirment to be sworn in.

The meeting was then adjourned.



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 03:37 PM

House Education Committee Hears from State Board of Education

The House Education Committee met today to hear a Department Overview and Budget Presentation by the West Virginia Department of Education. 

Michael Martirano, the State Superintendent of Schools, addressed the committee. He spoke about the Board of Education. He stated the mission, which is,  "The West Virginia Board of Education establishes policies and rules to assure implementation of West Virginia's Education goals and to ensure the general supervision, oversight and monitoring of a thorough and efficient educational system."

He said he is focused on improving education for all students. He believes in equity. Equity is not equality. Students have different needs and they should be met.

He announced that 70 of the 116 high schools in West Virginia have a 90 percent or higher graduation rate. He stated that under the federal government any school with a 60 percent or less will have to evaluated and he's proud to announce that no high school in West Virginia has a graduation rate that low. 

He stressed the importance of the getting teachers in the state. There are 718 teacher vacancies; 407 are filled with substitute teachers on permit, 128 are filled with fully educated substitute teachers, 79 certified teachers by not in their field, 98 retired educators, and six are not filled at all. 

There are 19,000 teachers in the state 3,000 are special educators. Of that 3,000, there are 239 vacancies. Of the other 16,000 teachers 4,000 are special education certified. 

He is happy to hear the Governor wants to increase teacher pay because the average pay for a teacher in West Virginia is $46,000; ranked 44 in the nation. He said West Virginia sticks out on the East Coast because all surrounding states pay teachers a higher salary. Maryland's starting salary is more than West Virginia's average teacher salary after 15 years. 

The Education Budget is $2.4 billion; about 97 to 98 percent goes directly to the counties. 

Other presenters included Terry Harless, Chief Financial Officer, and Amy Willard. 



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 03:19 PM

Bill to Eliminate Courtesy Patrol Heads to House Finance Committee

The Roads and Transportation Committee met today and discussed HB 2007. 

HB 2007 would eliminate the courtesy patrol programs operated by the Division of Highways and the Parkways Authority. 

Originally, the funding from these programs was to be transferred into the general revenue, but the committee amended it to send the funds into the State Road Fund. 

This isn't the first time discussion on a bill of this nature has come up. Delegate Jim Butler mentioned that he proposed a similar bill a few years back. Other delegates remembered speaking to a similar bill last session. 

Delegate Ed Evans discussed how beneficial the courtesy patrol is to the state. He said the officers are the "primary eyes and ears on the road for Amber Alert." He pointed out that they've administered CPR to people and saved lives.

Delegate Boggs opposed the bill. He said that on his way to Charleston from Braxton County there were 11 vehicles on the side of I-79 and six of those vehicles had people in them; the others had bags over the window. The courtesy patrol provides to those who are stranded. 

Delegate Jim Butler supported the bill, stating that when he did his research, years ago, it cost $300 per stop by the courtesy patrol. He stated that the program was "not a very wise use of taxpayers’ money."

Delegate Howe rose in support of the bill. He stated that 73% of people have roadside assistance insurance. If this program cost $4 million, we are spending money and stopping $3 million from coming into the state from insurance companies. He said looking at the deficient; it's important to remember "4 million here, 4 million there, it all adds up."

Delegate Hamrick looked up his GEICO insurance bill and found that he pays a little over $6 every six months for roadside assistance. He supported the bill.

 

The bill passed through the Roads and Transportation Committee with the recommendation it be sent to the floor after being sent to the Finance Committee. 



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 01:36 PM

Senate Natural Resources Committee Reports Five Bills Today

The Senate Natural Resources Committee met today at 1 p.m. to discuss five bills.

Senate Bill 133 would relate to revocation of hunting and fishing licenses.

Senate Bill 134 would repeal the point system for revocation of hunting and fishing licenses.

Senate Bill 135 would adjust a rule relating to special waterfowl hunting.

Senate Bill 136 would adjust a rule relating to commercial sale of wildlife by updating language and definitions. 

Senate Bill 137 would revise the language of rules relating to miscellaneous permits and licenses.

 

All of the bills were reported to the Senate with a recommendation to pass but to first be committed to the Judiciary committee. 



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 12:11 PM

Seven Bills Advance to Second Reading Today in Senate

The Senate met today to progress seven bills from first reading to second reading and to introduce 16 new bills.

The bills on first reading today were SB 151, SB 176, SB 169, SB 170, SB 171, SB 174 and SB 237.

Senate Bill 237 would repeal obsolete rules of the Department of Revenue.

Senate Bill 169, Senate Bill 170 and Senate Bill 171 would repeal obsolete and unfunded programs. These programs have been moved to federal funding, were never funded or are no longer necessary. They repeal a state hemophilia program, programs of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly, and an article providing assistance to Korea and Vietnam veterans exposed to certain chemical defoliants.

Senate Bill 174 would exempt transportation of household goods from PSC jurisdiction. 

Senate Resolution 12 was adopted which designated today as Morgan County Day at the legislature.

The following committees meet today:

Natural Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Joint Finance at 3 p.m. in the House Chamber.

The committee on Transportation and Infrastructure meets tomorrow at 10 a.m. in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 12:09 PM

HB 2006 Read for the first time

Today, the House convened at 11 a.m. HB 2006 was read for the first time to the House. The Committee Substitute of the bill passed through the Judiciary Committee on Friday. 

HB 2006 would increase the penalties for violating the Whistle-blower Law. The bill additionally authorizes the termination from employment for a violation, instead of the current allowance of a suspension not to exceed six months. 

Bills introduced today included HB 2367, HB 2401, and 2403.

HB 2367 would establish a new crime of organized retail crime, establishing penalties and providing for forfeiture of property or other asset derived from organized retail crime. 

HB 2401 would increase teacher's salaries in order to be competitive with other states.

HB 2403 would permit county boards of education to accumulate instructional days and use them when needed in a later instructional term when inclement weather and emergencies prevent the otherwise full instructional term from being completed. The bill establishes an instructional day to be three hundred thirty minutes. 

Committee Meetings Today

Judiciary: 12:45 p.m. in 410M

Roads and Transportation: 1 p.m. in Gov. Org- 215E

Education: 2 p.m. in Education- 434M

Finance: 2 p.m. in House Finance- 410M

Sub-Committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior: 2 p.m. in 215E

Joint Finance and Joint Pension and Retirement: 3 p.m. in Chamber

Committe Meetings Tomorrow

Industry and Labor: 9 a.m. in 215E

Political Subdivisons: 1 p.m. in 434M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

There will be a budget presentation at 4 p.m. in the House Chamber.

The House is adourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 

 



Friday, February 10, 2017 - 01:43 PM

Senate President Introduces Tax Reform "Vision"

Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) discussed his goals with the Senate Committee on Tax Reform 1 p.m. Friday.

President Carmichael's "vision" is a complete elimination of the income tax in the state of West Virginia. He said other growing states have made this change from a focus on income tax to a focus on consumer sales tax instead.

In his own experience, Carmichael said he has found that citizens are fond of the suggestion as well, since "the more people look at it, the more people like it."

The president said the shift in revenue would also help to alleviate many future tax reform problems.

As for the committee's role, Carmichael said he believes they are "the right team" for turning his ideas into a reality.

"I fundamentally believe that this is the most important committee of this session," Carmichael said. "This committee is about transforming the state."

Senator Robert Karnes (R-Upshur), Chair, said the committe will do their best to achieve this goal in a timely manner by maintaining a bipartisan environment in committee proceedings.

Karnes also announced that the committee will be working with West Virginia University and Marshall University to collect and evaluate data for their tax reform measures.

The next meeting date for the Senate Committee on Tax Reform has yet to be determined.



Friday, February 10, 2017 - 01:34 PM

House Judiciary Met Today

Today, the House Judiciary Committee met and discussed HB 2006-committee substitute and HB 2205.

The Committee Substitute of HB 2006 was approved in the committee to go to the House floor. HB 2006 would increase the penalties for violating the Whistle-blower Law. The bill additionally authorizes the termination from employment for a violation, instead of the current allowance of a suspension not to exceed six months. 

HB 2205 would exempt hearing oil used for residential purposes from the Motor Fuel Excise Tax. It was amended today to include propane used for the purposes of home heating. It was approved and will be sent to the Finance Committee. 



Friday, February 10, 2017 - 12:00 PM

Day Three in the House

Today, 22 new bills were introduced to the House of Delegates. Among these bills were HB2329 and HB2339. 

HB2329 would make the production, manufacture, or possession of fentanyl unlawful. 

HB2339 would create the Intrastate Coal and Use Act. It establishes that the environmental regulation of coal and certain coal products mined and used within the state are exclusively regulated by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. This bill also states the legislative authority and defines terms. 

Committee Meetings Monday, February 13th

Judiciary 9:30 a.m. in House Judiciary- 410M

Roads and Transportation: 1 p.m. in Gov. Org- 215E

Education: 2 p.m. in Education- 434M

Finance: 2 p.m. in House Finance- 410M

Rules: 2 p.m. in Gov. Org.- 215E

Joint Finance and Joint Pension and Retirement: 3 p.m. in Chamber

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. Monday, February 13.



Friday, February 10, 2017 - 11:50 AM

Senate Introduces 21 New Bills

The Senate met today briefly to introduce 21 new bills. These bills included SB 241 and SB 246.

Senate Bill 241 would create the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Act of 2017.

Senate Bill 246 would implement water quality standards of drinking water.

Senate Resolution 11 was adopted today. This designated February 10, 2017 as Dental Hygienists Day.

The Select Committee on Tax Reform will beet today at 1 p.m. in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until Monday the 13th at 11 a.m. 



Friday, February 10, 2017 - 10:36 AM

Senate Confirmations Committee Hold First Meeting

The Senate Confirmations Committee met briefly 10 a.m. Friday.

Members discussed regular meeting times, as well as adopted the agenda for the committee.

For now, meetings are expected to take place 10 a.m. each Friday.



Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 05:02 PM

Senate Education Forms New Subcommittee, Hears Request for SB 184

The Senate Education Committee met Thursday and approved the creation of the Subcommittee on School Choice.

Senator Robert Karnes (R-Upshur) will serve as chair of the subcommittee, and Senators Mike Azinger (R-Wood) and Robert Plymale (D-Wayne) will serve as members.

Following this decision, Senator John Unger (D-Berkeley) asked that SB 184 relating to the privitization of higher education be sent to the Education Committee for discussion, once it is out of the Government Organization Committee.

Unger said the Education Committee need to have a say in the bill's progress, as it pertains to an aspect of education.

"This is an urgent matter," Unger said, since the decision on SB 184 could affect what direction the state goes in to fund education overall.

The next meeting for the Senate Education Committee has not yet been announced.



Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 01:16 PM

Senate Energy, Industry & Mining Committee Hold First Meeting

The Senate Energy, Industry & Mining Committee met briefly 1 p.m. Thursday.

Members adopted the rules and agenda for the committee, which followed with a movement to adjorn by the committee chair, Senator Smith (R-Tucker).

The next committee meeting has yet to be determined.



Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 12:19 PM

Senate Finance Warned of Possible Recession

The Senate Finance Committee reviewed several areas of potential shortcomings in the state's fiscal status during a meeting Thursday at 9:30 a.m. with Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow presenting a report from the West Virginia Department of Revenue.

In his presentation, Muchow warned the committee of a possible recession next year, which would mostly come about as a result of West Virginia's slow employment rate, which has a projected growth of 2.5 percent from 2015-2019, in comparison to the projected national average of 4.9 percent.

Muchow said many factors work to inhibit the state's progress, including "sluggish" wage growth over the past four years, slow recovery from drops in coal and natural gas profits and exports, and a lack of significant income tax and sales tax revenue growth.

Muchow said the state should expect a $200 million budget gap this year, with a gap of $500 million in 2018.

West Virginia's greatest challenge, Muchow said, is that job growth takes place in urban areas, but many of the state's citizens live in rural communities that might not have as much access to potential job opportunities now that coal is a declining source of revenue.

The Senate Finance Committee will focus more on how these factors apply to Governor Justice's proposed budget bill at their next meeting Thursday 3 p.m.



Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 12:07 PM

40 Bills Introduced in Senate

The West Virginia Senate met briefly today to introduce 40 bills. Some of the bills included SB 200 and SB 228.

Senate Bill 200 would increase high-quality educational opportunities within the public school system.

Senate Bill 228 relates to workers compensation disability and death benefits.

Senate Resolution 9 and Senate Resolution 10 were adopted today. These resolutions recognized the St. Marys High School boys cross country team for winning the 2016 Class AA/A state championship and the St. Marys High School football team for winning the 2016 Class A state championship.

The following committees are meeting today:

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M

Government organization at 2 p.m. in 208W

Energy at 1 p.m. in 208W

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M

The following committees are meeting tomorrow:

Confirmations at 10 a.m. in 208W

 

The Senate adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Thursday, February 09, 2017 - 11:55 AM

House Convenes for Day Two of the 83rd Legislature

Today, the House of Delegates convened for day two of the 83rd Legislature. Citations were presented and remarks made by delegates. Several bills presented including HB 2129, HB 2130, HB 2157, and HB 2315.

HB 2129 would state the legal right and authority of state and local law enforcement to enter public areas on or adjacent to any private club, or take other appropriate police action to enforce the underage drinking laws of this state. 

HB 2130 would require legislators to annually pass a drug test in order to receive any pay or expense reimbursement.

HB 2157 would change the mandatory school instructional days from one hundred eighty days to minutes over a period of one hundred eighty days based upon the minimum amount of hours of instruction offered to students provided by state board rules. 

HB 2315 would require that the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs conduct hearings to report to the Select Committee on Minority Issues and to create the West Side Revive Pilot Program for community development. 

Committee Meetings Today

Finance: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in House Finance- 460M

Energy: 2 p.m. in House Judiciary- 410M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in  House Gov. Org- 215E

Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse: 3:30 p.m. in House Gov. Org.- 215E

Legislative Oversight Committee on Education and Accountability: 5 p.m. Senate Finance- 451M

Commitee Meetings Tomorrow, Friday February 10th

Judiciary: 10 a.m. in House Judiciary 410M

 

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 



Wednesday, February 08, 2017 - 01:22 PM

Senate Convenes Session, Introduces 198 Bills

The West Virginia Senate convened at Noon today to reconvene the 1st Regular Session of the 83rd Legislature.

Senate Resolution 8 was adopted, which recognizes the contributions of Gary K. Wilson to Mineral County and the State of West Virginia.

The Senate introduced bills 1-198 this afternoon. Senate Bill 71 would create a 24/7 Sobriety Program, Senate Bill 69 would create a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, and Senate Bill 63 would require school counselors to spend all their time on comprehensive school counseling programs.

The following committees will meet tomorrow:

Finance at 9:30 a.m. in 451M

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M

UPDATE:

The Senate convened briefly following the State of the State Address to  introduce the  Budget Bill 

The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 11 a.m.



Wednesday, February 08, 2017 - 01:08 PM

House Reconvenes for First Day

Today, the WV Legislature convened at 12:00 p.m. and 152 bills have been introduced to the House of Delegates. Among those 152 are HB 2101, HB 2097, and HB 2016. 

The purpose of HB 2101 is to require the Juvenile Justice Reform Oversight Committee to make recommendations regarding reinvestments; create a juvenile justice account and provide its purpose, funding, and disbursements; require new data to be collected and compiled to allow calculation of juvenile recidivism and the outcome of programs and make this information avaliable to the public.

The purpose of HB 2097 is to allow community and technical colleges and universities to charge students half the cost of a credit for every credit taken over the fifteenth hour. 

The purpose of HB 2016 is to provide state health care services for all active and inactive military personnel. 

Resolutions were adopted. HCR 4 was adopted; extending an invitation to the Governor to address the Joint Assembly this evening. 

Committee Meetings Today

Finance: 2 p.m.

Judiciary: 2 p.m.

Education: 2:30 p.m.

Government Organization: 2 p.m.

Committee Meetings Tomorrow, Thurs. Feb. 9th 

Finance: 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m.

Energy: 2 p.m.

Pension and Retirement: 8 a.m.

The House is in recess until 6:45 p.m. for the joint meeting of the House and Senate. 

UPDATE:

House heard Gov. Justice's State of the State address. His budget was revieved. 

HB 2018 was introduced. 

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.

›› House bills introduced on this date


Thursday, February 02, 2017 - 12:04 PM

Senator Clements Sworn In

Senator Charles Clements (R-Wetzel) took the oath of office alongside his wife Eugenia "Genie" Clements this morning in a ceremony in the Senate Chamber. Surrounded by friends and supporters, Senator Clements was administered the oath by Senate President Mitch Carmichael.

Governor Justice appointed Clements to fill the 2nd district seat vacated by Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt. The district covers all of Wetzel County, Tyler County, Doddridge County, Ritchie County and Calhoun County, and parts of Marshall County, Marion County and Gilmer County.

Justice cited Clement's experience with infrastructure as one of his biggest strengths. Clements said he is looking forward to finding ways to "take advantage" of increased federal funding for infratsructure to improve the roads and bridges of the state.

Clements formerly served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1994 to 1996. He said he has always had an interest in running for the Senate, however. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in 1998.

Clements resides in New Martinsville of Wetzel County where he works as an office manager for H&R Block. Prior to working for H&R Block, he owned Clements Oil Company for 34 years.

The Regular Session will begin Feb. 8, 2017.




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