The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday evening to discuss four bills on the agenda.
Senate Bill 124 relates to animal cruelty. The bill would increase fines for people who inflict bodily harm or death on animals. The bill would also up the misdemeanor to a felony for inflicting bodily harm on animals.
Senate Bill 55 relates to drivers under the age of 18. The bill would impact roughly 90 drivers annually. The bill would prohibit drivers under the age of 18 with a level three license to operate a wireless device, such as a cell phone, while driving. The bill would qualify West Virginia for a federal grant of $2.3 million.
All bills were approved by the Committee and reported to the Senate.
The Senate Finance Committee refereed three bills to the full Senate, 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22.
SenateBill 168 which would update the meaning of federal taxable income in WV Corporation Net Income Tax Act, and Senate Bill 169 which would update terms used in WV Personal Income Tax Act, were unanimously voted to be referred to the full Senate.
Senate Bill 178 which is a Lottery Commission rule that would relate to the West VIrginia Lottery sports wagering rule, was
The committee also received two presentations – one from the West Virginia Department of Revenue and the other from the West Virginia Lottery Commission.
Information from the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission was presented to the Senate Education Committee, 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22.
Following the approval of minutes, Michele Blatt, assistant superintendent of the West Virginia Department of Education addressed the committee to discuss the state’s education areas of critical need.
Blatt said that three different factors join together to make up the criteria for critical need with the shortage of non-fully certified teachers, especially in math, accounting for a majority of the issues. According to Blatt, a non-fully certified teacher describes a teacher who may have a certificate for education in a subject which is different than the one they are currently teaching.
Statewide, 33.3 percent of West Virginia’s math teachers are non-fully certified in the subject.
When asked about the amount of vacancies that are present within the state, Blatt said that of the 700 vacancies present within the state, most are simply situations where non-certified teachers are teaching a particular subject.
Blatt also addressed the committee to discuss the need for additional teachers within the state and said the board is hoping to initiate a program where college seniors majoring in education may be placed in a school for the whole year opposed to the 6-12 weeks of student teaching. She said that this will help teachers
Senior Director for Financial Aid at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Brian Weingart, also came before the committee to discuss the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program. The purpose of the program is to assist West Virginians interested in obtaining a teaching certificate and committed to the pursuit of a teaching career in West Virginia's public schools.
The program is comprised of two components- a teacher scholarship and a teacher loan repayment. Both of which combine to create an appropriation total of $328,349.
Students who are applying for a scholarship through the program may receive $5,000 following a commitment to teach two years for each year they receive the award. Those who are applying for loan repayment may receive up to $15,000 towards student loan debt. $3,000 of which is awarded following the two completed years of teaching.
Overall, Weingart said that out of 300 applications, only 30 scholarships are awarded each year due to a lack of funding.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources met on Tuesday afternoon to discuss a new rule for the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
Senate Bill 173 would authorize DHHR to promulgate a legislative rule relating to, medication-assisted treatments (MAT). These treatment facilities are primarily used the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates.
Committee members spoke about the positive implications the bill would do in Southern West Virginia in dealing with the opioid crisis.
The Committee voted unanimously to approve the bill, and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
In its first official meeting of the session, the House Political Subdivisions Committee reviewed three bills.
The first bill the committee took up in its Tuesday meeting was House Bill 2091, which relates to increasing the minimum amount of magisterial districts in a county. This would only affect counties with three districts, increasing the number of districts to four.
Delegates argued that the bill gives more power to the people and increases the number of people who want to run for office.
Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, told the committee the bill would raise This the number of citizens eligible to run from 33 percent to 50 percent.
The committee advanced the bill, which will now head to the House Judiciary Committee.
The committee also advanced House Bill 2309, which would allow cities to cancel elections when only one person is running. After a brief discussion the committee reported the bill to the Judiciary Committee.
The last bill the committee took up was House Bill 2342, or the Taxation With Representation Act. This bill would allow people who don’t live in a city but work in that city and pay user fees to vote in city elections.
Several members of the committee expressed concerns of what unseen consequences would result from it.
The committee laid the bill over and adjourned.
After lengthy debate on amendments, a Senate bill that would increase access to career education and workforce training was advanced to third reading Tuesday.
The Senate took up Senate Bill 1 and several amendments Tuesday. Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, proposed an amendment that would increase access to career education and workforce training. Prezioso’s amendment would allow for the bill to apply to associates degrees in four year regional colleges, despite additional costs.
Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, rebutted Prezioso’s amendment and urged the Senate to reject it, saying, “This bill is geared to adults who’s education was interrupted and maybe didn’t make the grades to have the Promise Scholarship and other financial aid. In order to get this bill passed and help these students, I urge that we refuse this amendment.”
Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, addressed the chamber, citing the current fiscal note for Senate Bill 1, which is $7.67 million. Blair agreed with Rucker in her refusal of the bill.
“We have to live within our current means,” Blair said.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, joined the body to urge refusal for the amendment.
Ultimately, the Senate voted to reject the amendment.
Sen. Richard Plymale, D-Wayne, suggested another amendment to the bill which would allow for the bill to cover apprenticeships. This amendment also was rejected.
The Senate passed four bills Tuesday, including Senate Bill 152, which relates to criminal offense expungement. The bill expands on the Second Chance Act previously passed by the Legislature. One of the bill’s provisions would expand eligibility for criminal expungement to people convicted of certain nonviolent felonies.
“When I arrived in this chamber in 2017, I really thought we were doing well by passing this bill,” Sen. Glenn Jefferies, D-Putnam, said. “I believe we carefully crafted this bill to protect the people of the state. We’ve made the bill stronger.”
Other bills passed by the Senate Tuesday were:
· Senate Bill 3 would establish the West Virginia Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.
· Senate Bill 62 would require participation in a drug court program before the discharge of certain first-time drug offenses.
· Senate Bill 240 would repeal certain legislative rules no longer authorized or are obsolete.
The Senate advanced three bills to second reading:
·Senate Bill 18 which would relate to crimes committed on State Capitol Complex was amended and advanced to third reading.
· Senate Bill 255 would relate to the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee was advanced to third reading.
· Senate Bill 354 which would expire funds to balance the Chief Inspector’s Fund at the Auditor's Office was was advanced to third reading.
The Senate also adopted three resolutions – Senate Resolution 14, which celebrates the achievements and contributions of Monongalia County and Senate Resolution 15 which designated Jan. 22 as Preston County Day.
Additionally, the Senate also unanimously adopted Senate Resolution 12 which congratulates the Ripley High School girls’ track team for winning the 2018 Class AAA state championship.
Sen. Eric Tarr, R. Putnam, addressed the chamber, congratulating the team for their win and read the names of teammates to his fellow senators. Tarr told the chamber that the girls’ team was able to collect the win despite being the smallest team within the state’s AAA class.
Senate Bills 386-393 were also introduced during the floor session.
Senate Bill 388 would equalize penalties for intimidating and retaliating against public officers, employees, jurors, and witnesses.
Senate Bill 390 would require electric utilities to submit feasibility studies of constructing and operating middle-mile broadband internet projects.
The following committees will be meeting today:
The Senate Committee Energy, Industry and Mining will meet 15 minutes following floor session in 208w.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources will meet 15 minutes following floor session in 451M.
The Senate Education Committee will meet at 3 p.m. in 451M.
The Senate Government Organization Committee will meet at 3p.m. In 208W.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at 4 p.m. in 208W.
The Senate Finance Committee will meet at 4 p.m. in 451M.
The following committees will be meeting tomorrow:
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development will meet at 2 p.m. in 208W.
The House convened Tuesday, reviewing several bills. In a unanimous vote, the body passed House Bill 2362, the Ardala Miller Memorial Act.
The bill would provide a way to allow qualified voters to vote by an absentee ballots and sets forth those qualifications. The voter would have to be confined to a specific location other than a hospital or nursing home, prevented from traveling to a polling place because of medical reasons or immobility due to extreme advanced age.
Four bills were advanced to third reading.
The House took up seven bills on first reading and advanced them to second reading, or the amendment stage:
The Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met Tuesday morning to discuss two bills, and hear a presentation from the Department of Transportation.
Senate Bill 238 would increase fines for drivers who pass stopped school busses. The bill would double fines for every offense possible.
Fine increases would include:
· First conviction would increase the minimum to $500 and the maximum to $1,000.
· Second conviction would increase the minimum to $1,000 and the maximum to $1,500
· Third conviction would increase to a $2,000 fine
The bill would also require school buses to carry front facing camera on the dash of the bus, so it could capture the license plate of any driver who would violate the bill.
The Committee voted unanimously to approve the bill, and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
The Dept. of Transportation updated the Committee on the progress made in 2018, and mentioned that there are already 203 projects for 2019.
The Dept. talked about the Blue Ribbon Commission Report of the roads of West Virginia in 2013. Under the report it stated that to maintain the roads as needed, $1.1 billion would be needed annually. Under the report, West Virginia is already 5.5 billion behind. The report also states that 24,000 secondary roads are in need of maintenance.
The Committee asked questions and expressed concerns about orphan roads and drainage for the roads not being addressed yet, and asked for another presentation at a later time to address these issues.
About 18 people spoke at a public hearing on a bill that would put state managed care organizations in charge of administering certain health care treatments for West Virginia foster children.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources organized the public hearing Tuesday morning on House Bill 2010.
The bill would put state managed care organizations (or MCOs) in the role of administering certain health care treatments for foster children. The implementation of these MCOs as the primary financial source for health treatments would relieve some of the financial pressures from the Department of Health and Human Resources and their Medicaid program, which currently completely funds foster children in the state.
The bill, which works to address a foster care crisis in the state, would help to privatize and specialize care for the almost 6,700 children in the state of West Virginia who are a part of the foster care system.
Several members of the public came out to defend the proposed legislation, and several members of the public stood in strong opposition.
A primary argument against the bill is that House Bill 2010 would add unneeded bureaucracy to an already difficult process of getting treatment for a foster child.
Carey Jo Grace, representing West Virginia’s Our Children Our Future, argued against adding another agency to the already difficult life of a foster child in the state.
“These children need love and support, not more red tape,” Grace said.
Other members of the public argued that moving care from the hands of the state to private insurance companies who may profit off of children being in the foster system could have negative effects.
Stephen Smith, a West Virginia foster parent to a five-year old son, came out during the meeting in strong opposition to the bill.
Smith argued he does not want his son’s care in the hands of a managed care organization, where an employee’s job depends on the profit motives of the insurance company.
Smith compared the plight of West Virginia foster parents to the biblical story of David and Goliath, arguing, “We have no high-powered lobbyists like you do. But ask yourself this: why does a bill that claims to help foster parents have a small army of foster parents fighting against it?”
Those in defense of House Bill 2010 argued for the ability of MCOs to bring comprehensive and specialized care to West Virginia foster children, who oftentimes have to go without.
Patricia Fast, representing The Health Plan of West Virginia, advocated for House Bill 2010. Fast, who works in an executive position with a state MCO, argued the state can maximize the efficacy of the state foster care system with an integrated approach to how healthcare is administered to foster children throughout the state.
“A public/private integration of this care is what is best for the child. We can help the child get the specialized healthcare that they need, when they need it,” Fast said.
Jill Rice, representing UniCare, also supported the bill.
“The use of these MCO’s provides a single point of accountability for families,” said Rice. “MCO’s have the expertise, experience, and organization to maximize comprehensive care. We've been a part of this effort to get foster children care in the state since 1996, and we're well-equipped to handle this."
Several members of the public liked the intent and content within the bill, but raised concerns about the time frame that the legislation would be implemented.
Jim McKay, representing Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, wanted the 6-month implementation plan of the bill to perhaps be discussed more, and the input of foster parents to be heard before any further action on the bill occurs.
“We agree that there is an urgency in this issue, but we need to go slower,” McKay said.
The Public Hearing concluded at 10am, but House Health and Human Resources Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, invited members of the public to attend the House Health and Human Resources Committee meeting at 2 p.m. in 215-E later today, where House Bill 2010 will be further discussed.
Department of Commerce Requests $14 Million for Tourism
The West Virginia Department of Commerce requested an additional $14 million from the Senate Finance Committee Monday.
Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby addressed the committee to explain the additional funding found within the fiscal year 2020 budget request would go directly towards state tourism.
“Hands down, the number one thing holding (state tourism) back is money,” Ruby said. “Advertising directly impacts how people see the state.”
The committee learned that additional funding would go toward five different categories with $10 million going toward brand promotions, $1.5 million for public relations, $500,000 for events and sponsorships, $500,000 for industry development and $1.5 million for state parks and recreation advertising.
If awarded the money, the state would still have a large gap of funding when compared to surrounding states. Currently, the state gains an average of $4.5 billion from travel spending while Pittsburgh sees $41.5 billion on average and Ohio gains $35 billion.
Ruby explained that despite a large request for additional funding, the state’s tourism industry is outpacing the national rate by 30 percent following four years of decline. Ruby cited statistics saying the state gained $4.3 billion from direct consumer spending and saw 36 percent more visitors than 2017.
“Since 2012, we’ve seen an increase in tourism growth,” Ruby said. “Numbers are definitely trending in the right direction.”
In total, the department is requesting $85,473,930 for fiscal year 2020.
Additionally, Sen. Corey Paulmbo, D-Kanawha, addressed the department to get an update about work going on between the state with China concerning potential investments.
Mike Graney, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, addressed the senator and said that work is still going on with China for potential investments and huge possibilities that could arise within the year.
“China has made three visits to the state and currently have three active projects they’re working on,” Graney said.
The West Virginia Secretary of State also presented their budget proposal which includes $957,594 for general revenue, $4,342,243 for general administration fees and $1,003,611 for service fee and collection.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met Monday afternoon to discuss two bills on the agenda.
Senate Bill 258 relates to piercing the cooperate veil for Limited Liability Companies (LLC). The bill would not allow “veil piercing” claims to be used to impose personal liability on a member or manager of a limited liability company. The bill nullifies the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals decision in Joseph Kubican v. The Tavern, LLC.
There was a discussion on real world applications of the bill if it would pass. The Committee wanted to ensure every member knew the implications, and how the bill would impact court cases in the future. Some senators expressed concern on not holding members of LLCs accountable.
The bill passed on a 12-3 roll call vote, and was reported to the Senate to be voted upon.
Senate Bill 264 relates to requiring courts to order restitution to crime victims. The bill would include the Crime Victim’s Fund as an entity which may obtain reimbursement from defendants for money given a victim.
The bill was approved unanimously, and was referred to the Committee on Finance.
The House Judiciary Committee passed four bills and rejected one measure, which dominated discussion in the Monday afternoon meeting, relating to pyramid schemes.
House Bill 2198 provides new amended definitions and language relating to pyramid promotional schemes. This bill was highly discussed and much confusion was found in the bill’s new definitions and context. After questions had been asked and all discussion was finished, the committee voted not to pass the bill. Those against the bill argued that it would allow pyramid schemes already in place to thrive and would provide scapegoats for new pyramid schemes. Delegates also argued the language in the new bill was confusing and ambiguous and that it was a solution searching for a problem.
The committee reviewed a total of seven bills. One of these, discussed very briefly, was House Bill 2527, which relates to forgery and other crimes concerning lottery tickets. The committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House floor.
House Bill 2509 relates to theft of a controlled substance. This bill only adds clarification and some additional language. The committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House floor.
House Bill 2319 creates a state-administered wholesale drug importation program. The committee looked over this bill and voted to move the bill forward as a resolution for further study and research.
House Bill 2083 provides an identification card for released inmates who do not have a West Virginia identification card. Without having an identification card, it can be very hard for inmates once they are released, to find a job or set up a bank account. These identification cards would be temporary for 90 days, this would allow the inmates to go to a DMV and get their license. The committee voted to send this bill to the House but first go to Finance for further discussion.
House Bill 2446 relates to the Blue Alert plan. This bill would establish a Blue Alert plan in West Virginia and it is similar to silver and amber alerts. This program is already codified in more than 30 states. The program is voluntary and in order for the alert to be initiated, an officer must be killed, critically injured, or missing. The committee passed this bill and reported it to the House floor.
The last item on the agenda was House Bill 2467, which relates to permitting nonresidents to obtain state licenses to carry a concealed and deadly weapon. This bill was not discussed by the committee and instead it was recommended to a sub-committee.
A House committee debated at length a bill that would allow certain people to drive a motorcycle without a helmet but ultimately, laid the bill over to the next meeting.
The House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure met Monday to consider several bills. However, discussion on House Bill 2070 dominated the meeting.
House Bill 2070 would allow people in the state of West Virginia to operate a motorcycle without a helmet providing that they’ve held a motorcycle license for at least two years and are 21 or older. This bill proved to be contentious in the committee meeting, and generated a lengthy discussion on the parameters and implications of the legislation.
Bruce Martin, a director of the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management, presented information regarding the legislation.
Martin used Florida as an example of a motorcycle helmet repeal, citing the number of motor vehicle accidents decreased significantly after the state stopped requiring their riders to wear helmets.
Martin stood in strong support of the bill, arguing his data showed “people just ride safer without the helmet.”
His argument centered on the idea that when motorcyclists wear helmets, they feel invincible and are more likely to engage in reckless behavior. Additionally, Martin told the committee the majority of traumatic brain injury cases are whiplash-related — thus, implicating the helmet as a factor in causing the brain injury.
“You’ll find that in a lot of cases, these helmets, which add an extra five pounds on average, are actually causing traumatic brain injury due to whiplash,” Martin said.
Some delegates questioned Martin at length, mentioning concerns of costs to West Virginia Medicaid, increasing insurance premiums, and general safety concerns for people.
Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-Marion, argued the passage of the amendment could become costly to West Virginia Medicaid.
Also present to provide data was Jill Rice, the President of the West Virginia Insurance Federation.
Rice presented information that countered against Martin’s directly, citing the state of Michigan.
“After Michigan repealed their helmet laws, injury claims in the state went up twenty-two percent,” Rice said.
Rice stated that the use of a motorcycle helmet increased a cyclists’ chances to not suffer from traumatic brain injury by three times.
Due to the lengthy and contentious debate that House Bill 2070 generated, the bill was laid over until the next House Technology and Infrastructure Committee meeting. The committee adjourned, leaving the following two bills on the agenda to be laid over as well.
The Senate voted unanimously on Monday morning to adopt Senate Resolution 11 which declared Jan. 21, 2019 as Down Syndrome Awareness Day.
The Senate also voted unanimously to adopt Senate Resolution 13 which recognized Leadership Berkeley for their continued service, dedication, and commitment to Berkeley County. Members of the organization were recognized and presented the resolution during a brief recess.
Senate bills 17, 61, and 119 all passed on third reading, and were reported to the House.
Senate Bill 17 relates to probation eligibility for people who have been convicted of certain sexual offenses. The bill would allow a psychological exam in instead of a psychiatric exam.
Senate Bill 61 would add certain crimes for which prosecutor may apply for wiretap. There was a discussion between Senator Romano and Chairman Trump over the definition of treason, and how a person could commit treason against the state of West Virginia.
Senate Bill 119 relates to specifying documents not subject to discovery in certain proceedings.
Senate Bills 355 to 385 were introduced and reported to the appropriate committees.
The following committees will meet today:
Natural Resources at 1p.m. in 208W
Banking & Insurance at 2p.m. in 451M
Finance at 3p.m. in 451M
Judiciary at 3p.m. in 208W
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
Transportation & Infrastructure at 10a.m. in 451M
Education at 2p.m. at 451M
The House of Delegates convened Monday for the 13th day of the Regular Legislative Session, passing two bills.
The House passed Committee Substitute for House Bill 2190, which would modify bail requirements. This would allow for the release of people with certain misdemeanors, providing that they appear in court on their allotted date.
“On average, these people with nonviolent misdemeanors are held on an average of six days,” said Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, a lead sponsor of the bill. “This greatly impacts their ability to hold onto their jobs.”
The House also passed House Bill 2311, which would stop requiring full year reportage of short term merchant licensees. Currently, statute requires that those who receive a short term license for selling goods temporarily within the state have to report those taxes throughout the entire year. This bill would only require them to report those expenses until the fees are paid off.
Bills introduced Monday included House Bill 2532, a bill that would allow West Virginia citizens to make $3, $5, or $10 donations to the West Virginia 4-H Foundation, the West Virginia Farm Bureau Foundation, and/or the West Virginia Future Farmers of America Educational Foundation when they renew their driver’s licenses.
Two bills on second reading were postponed one day – House Bill 2008, relating to nonpartisan election of state Supreme Court justices, and House Bill 2193, which provides a specific escheat of U.S. savings bonds.
Bills advanced to the amendment stage were: House Bill 2195, which would create a sentencing commission within the state, and House Bill 2423, which would prohibit sex offenders from being in a supervisory position over children within the state.
The House will convene again tomorrow at 11 a.m. on Jan. 22 for the 14th day of the regular session.
Committees Meeting Today:
House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure will meet at 1 p.m. in 215-E.
House Education Committee will meet at 2 p.m. in 432-M.
House Finance Committee will meet at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in 460-M for budget presentations.
House Judiciary Committee will meet at 2 p.m. in 410-M.
House Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services will meet at 4 p.m. in 215-E.
Committees Meeting Before Floor Session Tomorrow:
There were be a public hearing regarding House Bill 2010, relating to foster care, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the House Chamber.
House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources will meet at 8:30 a.m. in 215-E.
House Committee on Industry and Labor will meet at 10 a.m. in 215-E.
The House Rules Committee will meet at 10:45 a.m. behind the House Chamber.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced five bills and decided not to take up one bill.
The first bill the committee reviewed is House Bill 2005, which is the Broadband Expansion Act for 2019. This bill is another step in aiding the deployment of reliable small wireless facilities and other next-generation wireless and broadband network. The bill was passed unanimously by the committee and reported to the House.
House Bill 2459 regards exercising authority to exempt individuals domiciled within the state from certain restrictions contained in federal law. This law was originally passed in 1996 and has remained ever since. It was accepted in Guam, Mississippi and South Carolina. Statistics show in 2016, this law would have been able to impact 2000 applicants that were denied, there were 1,300 that were denied in 2018.
The committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House.
House Bill 2462 relates to the authority for correctional employees and parole officers to carry and use firearms. This was originally a right of corrections officers but the section of code that allowed this right was at some point lost during legislation. The committee after only a few questions quickly voted on the bill to pass and be reported to the House.
House Bill 2412 relates to criminal acts concerning government procurement of commodities and services. This bill was not discussed in detail and after a few questions of counsel and speakers, the committee advanced the bill and reported it to the House.
Finally, the committee reviewed House Bill 2435, which authorizes attorneys general to prosecute violations of state criminal law recommended by the Commission on Special Investigations. This bill was heavily discussed amongst the committee and many questions were asked of counsel and speakers from the commission and a prosecutor. After the committee was done with questions voting on the bill was presented and the bill was passed with 14 for the bill and 11 against.
The Judiciary Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Monday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee convened for a meeting 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18.
Members of the committee went over the committee substitute bundle for Senate Bills 224–230.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 225, concerns a Division of Labor rule relating to the regulation of heating, ventilating and cooling work. Senate Bill 229 is another rule bill relating to commercial whitewater rafting.
Following a motion by Majority Whip, Sen. Ryan Ward, R-Brooke, the committee unanimously voted to send the committee substitutes to the full Senate with the recommendation that they do pass.
The committee also reviewed technical changes made on Senate Bill 253 which would protect consumers from automatic purchase renewals and continuous service offers. Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, lead sponsor for the bill, said the committee substitute was created to make “minor technical changes (to the bill),” Jeffries said.
“(Automatic purchase renewal) was something that was brought to my attention last year. The more I spoke with people, the more I realized that this was something we need to look into,” Jeffries said. “Seniors don’t understand how these automatic systems work and we need to get a better understanding (of them) to make sure they know what’s happening.”
Ultimately, the committee unanimously agreed on the committee substitute and voted to send the bill to the full Senate.
Sen. Paul Hardesty, the new 7th District West Virginia Senate seat, was also welcomed to the committee.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development met on Friday afternoon to discuss six bills on their agenda that related to the Agriculture Commission.
The bills related to new regulations the Agriculture Commission would like to adopt; some bills include sunset provisions for the proposed pilot programs.
Senate Bill 195 relates to farmers and excess produce. The bill would allow farmers to donate produce to nonprofits. The farmers would then be given a tax credit for the amount of produce donated.
Senate Bill 196 relates to Agritourisim. The bill would define the definition as an “activity on a farm used for recreational activities.” The bill would also lay out the duties of farmers who choose to use their land for Agritourisim.
The Committee voted unanimously to approve the bills, and were referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
The House of Delegates passed two bills in its Friday floor session.
The first bill the House passed was House Bill 2815, which is a bill relating to the removal of animals left unattended in motor vehicles. Currently in state code, there is nothing allowing average citizens to rescue animals unattended without negative repercussions. However, under this bill, certain officers and agents would be allowed to remove animals.
The bill passed unanimously with four members absent.
The House also passed House Bill 2307, which would allow the creation of provisional licenses for practicing barbering and cosmetology.
House Bill 2190, which modifies bail requirements, was advanced to third reading. Currently after reviewing all the circumstances, a court or magistrate is of the opinion that a defendant will appear as may be required, the magistrate may release that individual upon their own recognizance.
This bill adds a subsection which requires a magistrate, except for good cause show, to release the person charged with certain misdemeanor offenses on their recognizance. The House adopted an amendment, which says that within 10 days, a prosecutor could make a motion to the magistrate or circuit judge to set bond or to provide evidence of a person that would show good cause for them not to be released.
House Bill 2311 was also advanced to third reading. This bill exempts short-term license holders to submit information to the State Tax Commission once the term of the permit has expired. The amendment was a technical change to the language in a section of code included in the bill. The House adopted the amendment.
The House of Delegates will reconvene at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21.
Committees Meeting Today After 11 am:
The House Committee for Judiciary will resume meeting at 1 p.m. today, Friday, Jan. 18 in 418M
The Senate welcomed Sen. Paul Hardesty to the 7th District West Virginia Senate seat, in Friday morning’s floor session.
Hardesty was appointed to the seat following Sen. Richard Ojeda’s resignation on Jan. 10.
The Senate also discussed Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 which seeks to address the crumbling infrastructure around the state.
The resolution was unanimously adopted following the passage of Senate Bill 272 which updates code relating to the Commission on Special Investigations.
During the floor session, the Senate also passed Senate Bill272, relating to updating the code relating to the Commission on Special Investigations.
The Senate also introduced Senate Bills 343-353. Senate Bill 343 relates to the review and approval of state property leases. Senate Bill 350 would define terms to assure correctional officers are considered law-enforcement offices.
The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21.
The following committees will meet today:
· The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development will meet at 12:30 p.m. in 208W
· The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will meet immediately following the Agriculture and Rural Development committee.
The following committees will meet Monday:
· The Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance will meet 2 p.m. in 451M.