Nine Senate Bills and Two House Bills were featured on third reading, 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11.
Of the 11 bills, all passed following votes from the Senators. The proposed Senate legislation featured:
Two resolutions were also passed during Monday’s floor session with Senate Resolution 36 recognizing Bethany College on the 179th anniversary of its charter, and Senate Resolution 37 congratulating John Cobb Jr. for being named the WV Outstanding Tree Farmer for 2019. Multiple Senators rose in support of the resolutions prior to their passage.
Following third reading, 11 bills were featured on second reading; of the 11 pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 13, relating to distributions from the State Excess Lottery Fund, House Bill 2459, which would exercise the authority to exempt individuals domiciled within the state from certain restrictions contained in federal law, and House Bill 2492, relating to mandatory reporting procedures of abuse and neglect, received one amendment each.
The following committees will meet today:
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
The House Education Committee advanced a Senate education bill after making several changes to the original version.
The committee continued its third day of discussion on Senate Bill 451, hearing from agency and school representatives and adopting several amendments before legislators adopted the proposed strike-and-insert amendment and advanced the bill in a 15-10 vote. The bill now heads before the House Finance Committee.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this week following days of debate and deliberation. The measure, as passed by the Senate, introduced public charter schools, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), a $250 tax credit for teachers buying supplies, a 5 percent pay increase to teachers and service personnel, and a $500 bonus for teachers who miss fewer than 10 days during an academic year.
Charter schools would be open in any school district and would be opt-in. ESAs would be open for 2,500 students who attend public charter schools in the state.
Several aspects of the Senate’s version of the bill were changed in a proposed strike-and-insert amendment presented in the House Education Committee.
The House Education Committee adopted an amendment that eliminated Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, from the bill.
The strike-and-insert also limited the amount of charter schools. Originally, the committee proposed a pilot program of two schools—an elementary school in Cabell County and an elementary school in Kanawha County. However, the committee later adopted an amendment that kept the limit of two charter schools but broadened it to be two statewide instead of from Kanawha and Cabell counties.
The strike-and-insert removed virtual charter schools from the bill, changed the implementation date of establishing charter schools to July 2020. The strike-and-insert also would add a severability clause and removed a provision that would require unions to get written permission from members before spending membership dues on political causes.
The committee considered several amendments Friday evening. Following its initial rejection, an amendment was brought back up for consideration regarding work stoppages. The amendment, which was adopted the second time, would remove a section where county boards would withhold pay during a work stoppage.
Another amendment the committee adopted would have a majority of employees in a school proposed for a charter school and the majority of parents or guardians of kids that would go to that school to approve converting to a charter school.
Another amendment the committee adopted required charter schools to guarantee enrollment to all students previously enrolled in a public school and to guarantee enrollment for all students residing in that school’s attendance area.
The committee additionally approved amendments dealing with seniority, establishing and funding at a minimum of $5 million for School Innovation Zones, and an amendment that stated no elected official could profit or receive monetary consideration from charter schools unless the elected official is employed at the school before its conversion.
The committee rejected several amendments including one that would void the entire bill, an amendment to double the tax credit from $250 to $500 for supplies, an amendment calling for an education adequacy cost study, and an amendment to increase the annual bonus from $500 to $2,000 for teachers who don’t use more than four personal days.
Two public hearings on Senate Bill 451 are scheduled for Monday in the House Chamber – one taking place at 8 a.m. and the other at 5:30 p.m.
The Judiciary Committee looked through assorted bills Friday, one of which related to providing banking services for medical cannabis act.
House Bill 2538 seeks to provide banking services for services provided under the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act. Currently, there are no existing laws regarding banking services for medical cannabis. Many other states use some form of banking services, but all are protected from federal law in regards to this type of legislation. The bill will be reported to the House.
Other bills voted on by the committee include.
· Senate Bill 377 relates to minimum wage and maximum hour standards. Currently, seasonal employees of recreational establishments are not exempt from overtime laws. West Virginia Code does however already contain numerous exceptions to the definition of “employee” for the purposes of minimum wage and maximum hours laws that are “seasonal” in nature including legislative per diem workers and seasonal employees of commercial whitewater outfitters.
This bill excludes any seasonal employee of an amusement park who works for the park for less than seven months in any calendar year from the definition of the term “employee” for the purposes of the Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Standards Law. The bill also adds a definition for “amusement park.” The bill was reported to the House by the committee.
· House Bill 2709 relates to hunting licenses. This bill exempts the names, addresses and other contact information of hunting license holders from disclosure under FOIA requests. The new subsection to the bill provides, however, that the records shall be available to all law-enforcement agencies and other governmental entities authorized to request or receive such records. This bill was reported to the House by the committee.
· House Bill 2715 relates to Class Q special hinting permits for disabled persons. Under current state law a person who is permanently disabled in the lower extremities may obtain a Class Q permit statewide hinting permit to hunt all legal species of fame during the designated hunting seasons from a motor vehicle. Current law requires a licensed physician to certify the Class Q applicants’ permanent disability. This bill expands the conditions of permanent disability for which an individual can obtain a permit.
There was also an amendment the committee unanimously rejected that was left unchanged in the committee substitute until further research unhinged it. The amendment stated that along with physicians, licensed chiropractors could also sign off on disability forms. However, it was revealed that the state does not allow chiropractors to sign off on disability therefore the committee rejected the amendment. The bill was reported to the House.
· House Bill 2579 relates to the collection of tax and the priority of distribution of an estate or property in receivership. West Virginia currently holds trustees, receivers, administrators, executors or persons charged with the administration of an estate personally liable for taxes accrued and unpaid under Article 10 of Chapter 11. The bill seeks to clarify conflicts within the code and create uniformity relating to the collection of taxes, the priority of distribution of an estate and to limit the liability of a fiduciary charged with distribution of the estate. The bill was passed by the committee and reported to the House.
The House of Delegates convened at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb 8 on the 31st day of the legislative session to consider legislation. On this day, 13 bills were on third reading in the House, all of which were passed.
Senate Bill 240 was considered with amendments pending. This bill would remove certain specific legislative rules that are considered either obsolete or no longer applicable.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monogalia, proposed an amendment which passed the House unanimously. The amendment removed the removal of two specific rules regarding the regulation of a hazardous chemical, and a mental health parity rule.
The House Judiciary Committee also offered a strike-and-insert amendment to Senate Bill 240, which added four rules that were also ruled upon to be obsolete. This amendment also passed unanimously.
As amended, the House of Delegates advanced Senate Bill 240 unanimously.
The House also had a consideration of Senate Bill 354. The bill would provide for a supplemental appropriation requested by the State Auditor’s Office. The supplemental would expire $1.5 million dollars from the Auditor’s Offices’ Securities Regulation fund and re appropriate them to the Auditor’s Office Chief Inspector’s Fund. The bill passed the House and was voted to be effective from its passage.
The House passed House Bill 2392, which would allow 1-day licenses to be issued by the Alcoholic Beverages Commission for charitable events. This would allow those who are hosting a charitable event to apply for a single day license to sell non-intoxicating alcohol, such as beer and wine.
House Bill 2528 was tabled, on account of a very similar Senate Bill passing the House yesterday.
House Bill 2545 passed through the House of Delegates on this day as well. This bill would exempt purple heart recipients and other military veterans receiving other specific distinguished awards from paying a state vehicle registration fee. West Virginia individuals who qualify for this exemption would be allowed to put it towards one noncommercial vehicle.
House Bill 2546 is a bill that would exclude the value of durable medical equipment or mobility enhancing equipment when determining the value of the vehicle when deciding on the tax on the certification of title of the vehicle. This bill also passed through the House.
House Bill 2554 would establish attendance zones in the state that would designate which schools a student would attend. The bill would also allow counties to voluntarily have “open enrollment” policies which would allow students to transfer into a school without preclearance from their original school, as current statute mandates. After discussion, this bill passed the House.
Another bill that was passed through the House was a bill that would require the review and approval of state property leases by requiring two signatures and the review and approval of leasing of state property to nongovernment entities. House Bill 2601 passed through the House with little discussion.
House Bill 2696 was also passed, a bill to would create a naming convention to records lands owned by the state in an index system for easy cross-reference to county indexes. This would create an index system for attorneys searching for title information that would be specific to each county.
House Bill 2737 was also passed, a bill to provide professional training to the State Tax Division employees.
The House also had a consideration of and passed House Bill 2740, a bill that specified the instances in which parent can get inheritance from a child and vice versa. This bill would specify that in the state of West Virginia, a parent cannot take their child’s inheritance if their parental rights have been or could have been taken away. It also provides that as long as there isn’t a present will, a child can reap inheritance from a parent who does not have parental rights. This bill would ensure that a child can still receive inheritance.
House Bill 2746 was considered with amendments pending. House Bill 2746 would provide a mechanism that would allow state counties to close outstanding and unclaimed estates. Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, proposed an amendment to make a minor technical change to the bill, which passed.
Delegate Tom Fast, R- Fayette, also moved to amend the bill. His amendment would strike language from the legislation that would add liability to the executor and/or personal representative of the estate, and make them responsible for claims made against the estate.
Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, spoke against the bill, saying that the language helps to hold personal representatives accountable to their obligations regarding the estate. He maintained that the structure of the bill is upheld whether or not the amendment is passed.
Delegate Larry Rowe, D- Kanawha, spoke in favor of Delegate Fast’s amendment. He argued in favor of passing the bill, but doing so without incurring liability.
The amendment proposed by Delegate Fast was passed, as was House Bill 2746 overall.
House Bill 2759 was also passed, a bill allowing ancillary administration of the estate of nonresident decedents. The bill, if passed, would provide a personal representative to file an affidavit to evidence the probate of a will in another jurisdiction. This intent of the proposed legislation is to make the transfer of property easier in the state when a loved one passes.
House Bill 2815 is a bill that would raise the monetary value of goods that are taken in a larceny to $2500. It was passed as well.
House Bill 2809 was amended on second reading. Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, moved to make a technical amendment that would clarify the penalty clause of the bill.
All bills on first reading were advanced.
The House is adjourned until 11a.m. on Monday, February 11th.
There will be three public hearings occurring on Monday, February 11th.
-The House Committee on Finance will host two public hearings on Senate Bill 451. One occurring at 8:00 a.m., and one occurring at 5:30 p.m. Both are in the House Chamber.
-The House Committee on the Judiciary will host a public hearing regarding House Bill 2519 at 2 p.m. in the House Chamber.
Committees Meeting Today:
The House Committee on Judiciary will continue their posted agenda at 1:30 p.m in 418-M.
The House Committee on Education will continue their posted agenda regarding Senate Bill 451 at 2:30 p.m. in 215-E.
Committees Meeting Monday, February 11th:
The House Committee on the Judiciary will meet at 9 a.m. in 418-M.
The House Committee on Government Organization will meet at 10 a.m. in 215-E.
The House committee on Rules will meet at 10:45 a.m. behind the House Chamber.
The Senate convened Friday morning to discuss ten bills that were on third reading.
The most notable bill was Senate Bill 237. This legislation would require law-enforcement agencies with jurisdiction to accept a missing person complaint, and specifies the minimum information that law-enforcement agencies must attempt to collect from a complainant. It would require law-enforcement agencies receiving a missing person complaint to ensure that a report of the complaint and relevant information is entered into the state-level West Virginia Automated Police Network and when applicable, several other national databases, including those maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The bill also prohibits a law-enforcement agency from delaying a missing person investigation pursuant to a written or unwritten policy requiring that a certain time period pass from receipt of a complaint or the date on which the person was last seen before an investigation may commence.
Some senators spoke to the bill, and how it will greatly help future families who lose family members. The bill was passed unanimously, and will be reported to the House on Monday.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 263 which would limit the amount of pay which a member of the legislature may receive following the regular session of the Legislature when a state budget has not been passed. It also clarifies that a member is entitled to receive no more than five days of compensation for any extended or extraordinary session if a budget has not been passed.
Other bills that passed the Senate included:
Senate Bills 555 to 563 were also introduced.
The Senate is adjourned until Monday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m.
The House Committee on Government Organization convened at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb 8, in 434-M. The committee considered four pieces of legislation, all of which were passed unanimously.
House Bill 2338 is a bill that would allow owners of antique military vehicles to display alternate registration insignia compatible with the original, antique markings of the vehicle, in lieu of a standard West Virginia license plate.
This bill was advanced to the House Floor unanimously with the recommendation that it pass.
The House Committee on Government Organization then had a consideration of House Bill 2359. This bill would exempt commercial motor vehicle operators employed with a farm related service industry from the commercial driver’s license requirements. West Virginia citizens employed in the fields of agrichemical business, harvesting, livestock feeding, and other applicable careers would be exempt from getting a commercial driver’s license for a limited time.
This bill was also advanced to the House Floor unanimously with the recommendation that it pass.
House Bill 2692 was also passed by the House Committee on Government Organization, a bill that would equalize the candidacy filing dates for third party candidates, independent candidates, and the two major parties for state offices.
The committee also heard an originating bill regarding the reportage requirements of government agencies. The bill would require state agencies to have governmental websites containing up-to-date contact information, members, and legislative involvement. Counties and municipalities would be required to ensure that the websites are up to date.
This originating bill was moved to the House Floor with little discussion, with the recommendation that it pass.
The House Education Committee questioned several witnesses over provisions in a Senate education bill and presented further proposed changes to the bill Thursday evening.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this week following many days of debate and deliberation. The House Education Committee presented a proposed strike-and-insert amendment that made several changes to the version passed out of the Senate.
Some of the proposed changes included capping charter schools at six statewide, removing virtual charter schools from the bill, and changing the implementation date of establishing charter schools to July 2020. The strike-and-insert also proposed limiting Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, to families of students with special needs.
The strike-and-insert also would add a severability clause, changed the section related to payment during work stoppages, and removed a provision that would require unions to get written permission from members before spending membership dues on political causes.
The committee presented changes to the strike-and-insert Thursday evening. Most of the changes were technical in nature. The biggest change involved the number of charter schools, decreasing from six to two statewide.
The newest version proposes a pilot project for charter schools consisting of one elementary school in Cabell County and one elementary school in Kanawha County that are low performing and designated as a federal Title I eligible schools.
The committee also heard input from several people Thursday.
In the evening portion of the meeting, legislators heard from Rachelle Engen from the Institute for Justice, a parent of a special needs student, a high school teacher, a political director of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and the president of the West Virginia Education Association.
Delegates questioned Engen on ESAs. Six states currently have ESA programs although Nevada’s program currently is not operating. Engen told the committee that Florida has the highest participation rate, representing about 3 percent of eligible students.
Many questions focused on fraud prevention. Engen described the monitoring conducted by the state Treasurer’s office on ESAs.
Delegates asked what the ESA funds would cover. Engen told the committee people could use ESA funds for courses at charter schools, community colleges or private schools and additionally use ESAs for therapy and other services. Public funds are put into the ESAs with 75 percent of state aid going into it. Parents do not contribute to the ESA.
Kristy Black, a parent of a 15-year-old daughter who has down syndrome, also spoke before the committee. She talked about the services her daughter receives. She expressed concern with ESAs, saying the approximate $3,200 from an ESA would not come close to paying for services she receives through the public school system and the additional tutoring and therapy services her daughter needs.
The committee also heard from Greg Phillips, a social studies teacher at Robert C. Byrd High School and the president of the Harrison County Education Association. Phillips told the committee he didn’t think the $250 tax credit would go far.
The committee additionally heard from Kris Mallory, political director for the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, and Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, who answered questions including discussing the differences between innovation zones and charter schools.
Innovation Zones are designated by the West Virginia Board of Education that provides schools with support and flexibility to collaboratively implement innovation to enhance student learning, according to the West Virginia Department of Education. Innovation Zones means that schools have been awarded grants to address student learning or dropout prevention, according to the state Department of Education.
The committee is adjourned until 9 a.m. Friday. The committee will meet in the Government Organization Committee room.
The committee on Energy took up a bill that would establish the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act.
House Bill 2802 would preserve family wealth in the form of real property. Some families engage in sophisticated estate planning to ensure the passage of generational wealth but those with smaller estates are more likely to use a simple will or to die intestate. For lower-income families, most of an estate consists of real property.
If the landowner dies intestate, the real estate passes to the landowner’s heirs as tenants-in-common. In a tenancy-in-common, any co-tenant has the legal right file an action with a court to partition the property.
Tenants-in-common are vulnerable because any individual cotenant can force a partition. Real estate investors may acquire a small undivided share of heirs’ property and file a partition action and force a sale. Using a partition by sale, an outside investor can acquire an entire parcel, sometimes at a price below its fair market value. This may deplete a family’s inherited wealth.
This bill provides to the heirs a series of due process protections; notice, appraisal, right of first refusal, right to a private auction, and if the other co-tenants choose not to exercise their right to buy the property, a commercial sale supervised by a court to ensure all parties receive a fair price and their share of the proceeds.
The act only applies to heirs’ property where one or more co-tenants must have received his or her property interest from a relative and only when there is no written agreement governing partition among the owners. If a property is not an heir’s property, the current partition statute will apply.
The bill would preserve the right of a co-tenant to sell his or her interest in inherited real estate while ensuring that the other co-tenants will have the necessary due process to prevent a forced sale to an outside investor.
The bill was reported to the House and will be referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The Committee for Seniors, Children, and Family Issues advanced two bills Thursday related to in-home care.
House Bill 2825 would create a workgroup to review the hospice need standards in this state. The purpose of the bill is to establish a workgroup to review the hospice services and relevant standards in effect in this state.
The workgroup shall be led by the chair of the West Virginia Health Care Authority and shall include the Secretary of the Department of Health and Resources, or an appointed designee.
The bill also selects organizations, which shall choose the remaining members of the workgroup, and outlines their duties. These include determining whether the current hospice standards and deadlines need modifications which would be reviewed by the Legislative Oversight Committee. The bill was reported to the House.
House Bill 2625 would establish reimbursement rates for congregate and in-home meals. The purpose of this bill is to raise the reimbursement rate for congregate and in home meals provided by senior centers. The bill was reported to the House.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Thursday afternoon to discuss three bills.
Senate Bill 487 is an originating bill that would clarify that meeting minimum staffing requirements in a health care facility includes the provision of adequate supervision. The bill would a statutory rebuttable presumption for health care facilities or health care providers that appropriate staffing and adequate supervision to prevent accidents were provided if the health care facility or health care provider has demonstrated compliance with the minimum staffing requirements under state law.
Plaintiffs would need to prove clear and convincing evidence, which would be a 75 percent standard needed, instead of 51 percent standard by preponderance. The Committee lied the bill over for further discussion at a later time.
Senate Bill 339 would allow certain persons to carry pepper spray on and in the State Capitol Complex. The bill would allow for people ages 16 and older to carry pepper spray for self-defense reasons.
Senate Bill 481 relates to the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission. The bill would provide that no more than two appointed members of the Commission may be residents of the same state senatorial district, and no more than four from the same congressional district.
Both bills were approved by the Committee, and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
Six pieces of legislation were discussed by Senate Finance Committee members Thursday.
Senate Bills 40, 47, 117, 291, 296 and 461 were brought before the committee to be explained and voted upon. Of the six bills, five pieces of the legislation received the decision to be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they each pass.
One bill in particular, Senate Bill 40, which would establish the Military Service Members Court program, raised concern among a number of Senators on the committee. Sen. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, questioned why the program would be created and asked why military members couldn’t use the state’s existing court system.
Lead sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, came before the committee and explained that West Virginia previously had a veteran’s court program which was disbanded in 2017 due to a lack of funding. According to Weld, following investigation, it was found that the program did in fact have more than enough funding to stay in operation. The Senator stated that the main purpose of the bill was to reestablish the court and right the wrongs that occurred in 2017.
Weld explained that if passed, the bill would reestablish the program which provides options for rehabilitation, in addition to incarceration, to military service members. The fiscal note for the bill lists a $323,000 start up budget with $1.6 million being spent annually following full implementation.
Following discussion of SB40, committee chair, Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, motioned to removed Senate Bill 117, which relates to incentives for consolidating local governments, from the agenda and lay the bill over for one day.
The Senate Committee for Health and Human Resources reviewed Senate Bill 60, 1 p.m. Thursday.
The legislation, which would begin a licensing practice of athletic training, spurred conversation between committee members and representatives from the state’s athletic training field.
President of the West Virginia Athletic Trainers Association, Jenni Johnson, came before committee members to explain that the potential legislation would create title protections for athletic trainers in the state. Johnson cited that the state currently has no board for athletic trainers to report to.
Following discussion of the bill, committee members motioned to report the bill to the full Senate following a second reference to the committee on government organization.
Senate Bill 519, would require county emergency dispatchers to complete course for telephonic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and Senate Bill 518, would restrict the sale and trade of dextromethorphan to those under 18.
Dextromethorphan, commonly referred to as DMX, is a cough medication that can cause fatal liver injury, cardiovascular effects and over-sedation. If passed, this bill would create a criminal misdemeanor and $100 fine for those who are found guilty of dispense the medication to an individual under 18.
Both bills were voted to be reported to the full Senate with 518 receiving a second reference to judiciary and 519 receiving a second reference to finance.
The Banking and Insurance Committee took up House Bill 2621 which relates to background checks of certain financial institutions in its Thursday meeting.
This bill amends and reenacts state code relating to background checks of certain financial institutions by the Division of Financial Institutions, formerly known as the Division of Banking. This section sets forth the duties and powers of the Commissioner, which includes in current law the mandatory duty to require a criminal background investigation.
The bill amends the current code to provide that the commissioner may determine alternate acceptable forms for background check information for direct or indirect principals of a licensee or applicant for a mortgage lender or broker license or a money transmission license who are not residents of the United States.
The bill does not apply to applications to charter or control a bank. It only applies to principals of a licensee or applicant for a mortgage lender or broker license or a money transmission license who are not residents of the United States. The bill was reported to the House and will be referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Two other bills also were taken up by the committee.
House Bill 2807 would create an additional modification to the West Virginia adjusted gross income of shareholders of S corporations engaged in banking.
The purpose of this bill is to provide a reducing modification to the West Virginia adjusted gross income of a shareholder of a Subchapter S corporation engaged in banking business in this state. The modifications are similar to modifications that presently exists in code for corporate next taxable income applicable to CD corporations, which includes banks organized as C corporations.
The provisions of the bill are applicable with respect to tax years beginning January 1, 2019. The bill was passed by the committee and will be reported to the House after being reviewed by the Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 2361 would establish certain requirements for dental insurance. The purpose of this bill is to prohibit insurers or health care service contractors from requiring dentists to provide a discount on any dental care service or materials not covered by the insurance or contract.
There was a committee amendment made to the bill which amends the section of heading, removes the definition of “contractual discount,” a term not found in the bill, to clarify that the prohibitions cover insurance policies and insurers as well as contracts by health care service contractors and makes technical corrections to the bill.
The bill is reported to the House after being reviewed by the Judiciary committee.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources had a consideration of two pieces of legislation at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb 7 in 215-E. Both bills were advanced through the committee for a second reference to the House Judiciary Committee.
The first bill considered was House Bill 2801, a bill to require abortions performed in the state to be performed by a licensed physician. A strike-and-insert amendment to House Bill 2801 was proposed at the beginning of the committee meeting that was unanimously accepted. As amended, House Bill 2801 specifies that surgical abortion procedures must be performed by a licensed physician, thus preventing nurses from performing surgeries they’re not licensed to perform.
House Bill 2801 was approved by the committee with amendment, and with recommendation that it pass. The bill will go to the House Judiciary Committee for second reference.
The second bill on the agenda for consideration was House Bill 2867, a bill that would move the Medicare Fraud Control Unit from the jurisdiction of the WV Inspector General’s Office to the WV Attorney General’s Office.
Jolynn Marra, the Director of the Office of Health Facility and Licensure Certification (OHFLAC) and Interim Inspector General, attested to the success that the Medicare Fraud Control Unit has recently had in the state.
“We return $4.98 for every dollar spent in this program,” Marra said. “This unit does a fantastic job, especially with our new director. The numbers speak for themselves.”
WV Attorney General Patrick Morrissey was present to testify as to why House Bill 2867 should be passed, and why the Medicare Fraud Control Unit should be transferred to his office.
“The Attorney General’s Office is experienced,” Morrisey said. “We are a very visible fraud-fighting entity, and we’ve had a lot of success pursuing consumer fraud in the state.”
Morrisey elaborated that 43 other states have their Medicaid Fraud Control Units underneath the jurisdiction of Attorney General Offices, and that the addition of West Virginia’s program to the WV Attorney General Office would increase transparency, and strengthen national relations.
Several delegates spoke in favor of the transfer that House Bill 2867 should pass.
Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that it reduces transparency for the Medicaid Control Fraud Unit to be under jurisdiction of the Inspector General’s office, and office that reports to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
“I just feel it’s inappropriate that this office investigates a program administered by the agency they report to,” Summers said. “It feels a bit like a fox is in the hen house.”
Several other delegates had some concern regarding political motives, and the need for the transfer to occur in the first place.
Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, argued against House Bill 2867, saying that a politically affiliated office such as the Attorney General should not have power over how Medicaid fraud claims are handled.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, also was skeptical of the bill’s passage.
“I’ll be voting no because as the Director of OHFLAC stated, we are currently getting an excellent return on investment,” Fleischauer said. “The office is very successful right now. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Despite a lengthy discussion, the bill was advanced by the committee in a close 12-11 vote.
House Bill 2867 was advanced to the House Floor with the recommendation that it pass, but first receive consideration from the House Judiciary Committee.
The House passed a bill Thursday that would permit the state Supreme Court to create a family drug court pilot program.
House Bill 2686 would permit family drug court programs that would only operate with abuse and neglect cases. This bill also establishes a state advisory committee, which would provide more local involvement in treatment courts.
Other bills that passed the House on third reading are:
· Senate Bill 324, relating to Commissioner of Agriculture Employees
· House Bill 2204, prohibiting state licensing boards from hiring lobbyists
· House Bill 2479, relating to Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Act
· House Bill 2481, permitting the retail sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays after 1 p.m.
· House Bill 2608, repealing the requirement of printing date a consumer deposit account was opened on paper checks
There was also a motion made on the floor to discharge House Bill 2733 from its committee. This is a bill that adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to categories covered by the Human Rights Act. The motion was tabled.
All bills on second reading were advanced with the exception of one bill. House Bill 2365 had action postponed one day. This bill clarifies the definition of an employee for the purposes of unemployment compensation and worker’s compensation.
All bills on first reading were also advanced.
Two public hearings will take place Monday, Feb. 11. A public hearing on Senate Bill 451, relating to comprehensive education reform, will take place at 8 a.m. in the House Chamber.
Another public hearing will take place later that day at 2 p.m. in the House Chamber on House Bill 2519, the Campus Self Defense Act.
The Senate Committee on Government Organization met Thursday afternoon to discuss four bills on the agenda.
House Bill 2446 was the focal point of the meeting, as it would create the Blue Alert Plan. The Blue Alert Plan would aid in locating a law-enforcement officer who has disappeared in the line of duty or locating a suspect or suspects who kill or inflict a life-threatening injury upon a law-enforcement officer and remain at large. Alerts would go to media outlets who then would inform the public about the missing officer.
Senate Bill 345 would add the definition of grantee to include state spending units and local governments and to require grantees to report state grant spending information to grantors.
Senate Bill 285 relates to the selling of cottage foods. The bill would allow homemade foods, also known as cottage foods, to be sold at third party vendors. Foods must abide by current code and must contain labels of ingredients.
Senate Bill 405 would Increase the limit on additional expenses incurred in preparing notice list for redemption. The bill would increase it from $200 to $500.
All bills were approved by the Committee, and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
Multiple guests visited the Senate chamber to celebrate the passage of Senate Resolutions 33, 34 and 35, 11 a.m. Thursday.
Resolution 33, which designated Feb. 7, 2019 as Veterans Visibility Day at the legislature, was unanimously passed by members. Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, and Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, veterans of the military, rose to urge adoption of the resolution.
The Senate also passed Senate Resolution 35, which recognized Glenville State College and certain public school districts in West Virginia, and Senate Resolution 34, which designated Feb. 7, 2019 as Go Red for Women Day. Multiple Senators wore red in support for the resolution.
Three bills were read for a third time with each of the bills being passed by the Senate. Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, and Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas, rose to give extensive explanations of the legislation.
Senate Bill 392 relates to payment of invoices received by the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation for contract work.
Ten bills were featured on second reading with only one piece of legislation, Senate Bill 343, which relates to review and approval of state property leases, receiving an amendment from Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer.
Senate Bills 543 through 554 were introduced.
The following committees will meet today:
The Senate Health Committee will meet at 1 p.m. in 451M.
The Senate Education Committee will meet at 2 p.m in 451M.
The Senate Committee for Government Organization will meet at 2 p.m. in 208W.
The Senate Finance Committee will meet at 3 p.m. in 451M.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at 3 p.m. in 208W.
The following committee will meet tomorrow:
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. in 208W.
A number of supplemental appropriations passed out of the Senate Finance Committee at a 9:30 a.m. meeting Monday.
Following approval of minutes, committee members reviewed Senate Bills 442, 443, 444 and 445, and motioned to report all bills to the full Senate with the recommendation that they each pass.
Senate Bill 442, which would supplement, amend and decrease appropriation to the Insurance Commission, would grant the commission spending authority to move $10,000 out of their current expenses and implement it into personal services and employee benefits. This authority would also allow the Insurance Commission to enhance implementation and planning for federal market reform and consumer protections.
Bill 443, a supplemental appropriation of federal money to the Department of Health and Human Resources divisions, would give the DHHR spending authority for three different line items in their federal revenue budget. Requests would include $1.4 million to fund the Division of Health’s community and mental health services, $200,000 for the Energy Assistance Program and $13 million for the Childcare and Development Program.
Supplemental appropriation to DHHR divisions, SB444, would allow the DHHR to utilize funds from their special revenue budget and make two request— $872,000 for the Office of Laboratory Services and $885,000 for the Division of Health’s West Virginia Birth to Three fund.
Senate Bill 445 would increase spending for the Second Chance Driver's License Program, an initiative which helps citizens attain their license following removal due to unpaid court costs.
The House Education Committee went over a strike-and-insert amendment proposed to a Senate education bill.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this week following many days of debate and deliberation. The measure introduces public charter schools, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), a $250 tax credit for teachers buying supplies, a 5 percent pay increase to teachers and service personnel, and a $500 bonus for teachers who miss less than 10 days during an academic year.
Charter schools would be open in any school district and are opt-in. Education Savings Accounts would be open for 2,500 students who attend public charter schools in the state.
The strike-and-insert proposed several changes to the version passed out of the Senate. Some of the proposed changes included limiting the amount of charter schools established to six, removed virtual charter schools from the bill, and changed the implementation date to July 1, 2020. The strike-and-insert also proposed limiting ESAs to families of students with special needs.
The proposed tax credit was expanded to include service personnel.
The strike-and-insert also added a severability clause.
The proposed new version also changed the section related to payment during work stoppages, withholding pay during the stoppage but paying after all days are made up.
The strike-and-insert includes the proposed pay raises.
The proposed new version also removed a provision that would require unions to get written permission from members before they could spend membership dues on political causes.
In the afternoon meeting, counsel outlined technical changes to the strike-and-insert. Some of the technical changes included changing the language to say that the $250 tax credit would apply to teachers and service personnel in public schools and for comparable positions in private schools. Counsel noted that not all positions in private schools would perfectly match up to those in public schools.
After a few hours of questioning committee counsel, the committee adjourned until 9 a.m. Thursday.
The House Judiciary Committee met Wednesday advancing several bills.
One of the bills the committee advanced was House Bill 2609, which relates to presumptions of abandonment and indication of ownership in property. Currently, financial organizations are required to file an annual report with the State Treasurer concerning property that is presumed abandoned. Currently, this report must contain information about demand, savings or time deposits five years after the last indication by the owner of interest in the property.
This bill seeks to prevent unnecessary reporting and administrative costs associated with reporting of accounts held by a financial organization for active customers of the financial organization.
The committee advanced the bill to the House floor.
Senate Bill 18 relates to crimes committed on State Capitol Complex. This bill would remove the requirement that a person must have a valid concealed handgun license to lawfully keep a firearm in their vehicle on the Capitol grounds. The Senate committee substitute states that a person who may otherwise lawfully possess a firearm may keep a firearm in his or her vehicle if locked and out of view.
This bill was passed by the committee and reported to the House.
Senate Bill 61 adds certain crimes for which prosecutors may apply for wiretap. Under current law, a prosecutor may apply for a wiretap upon a showing of reasonable cause to believe the wiretap would provide evidence under six crimes. These are kidnapping, aiding the escape of a detainee, violations of the controlled substances act, human trafficking, treason and participation in an organized criminal enterprise. This bill also permits prosecutors to apply for wiretaps in extortion investigations.
There was one amendment made to the bill that removed the provision “attempted extortion” as a permissible crime for wiretap. The committee then passed the bill as amended and reported it to the House.
House Bill 2109 extends the maximum period of confinement a judge may impose for certain, first-time probationary violations. The purpose of this bill is to extend the maximum period of confinement a judge may impose for certain, first-time probationary violations form 60 days to six months. For subsequent violations, the judge receives greater sentencing discretion than provided currently. The bill passed the committee and was reported to the House.
House Bill 2720 authorizes certain investigators and first responders to carry firearms. This bill allows the West Virginia Attorney General’s investigators, reserve deputies, firefighters and ambulance personnel to carry firearms upon completion of a firearms training and certification program and they must maintain certification in a manner which is equivalent to that which is required of members of the State Police.
The agency of which the individual is a member may, if the so elect, authorize reimbursement of personnel for the cost of such training, but is not required to do so. It incorporates the training requirements for reserve deputies as adopted by Judiciary previously.
The bill passed the committee and will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2618 refers to including undue influence as a factor in the definition of financial exploitation of an elderly person or protected person. This bill amends both the civil and criminal actions for financial exploitation of an incapacitated person, elderly person or protected person to expand the definition of financial exploitation to include the use of undue influence resulting in financial or asset loss or disadvantage.
There were four amendments made to the bill that included language changes and the bill was then passed by the committee and reported to the House.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Wednesday afternoon, and discussed three bills on the agenda.
Senate Bill 440 relates to anti-hazing. The bill would modify the definition of “hazing” in the Anti-Hazing Law to address any type of organization whose members include students at any public or private institution of higher education. The bill was introduced because of the five fraternities at West Virginia University that disassociated themselves from the University in 2018. WVU responded by banning the five fraternities from the University for the next ten years.
Senate Bill 491 relates to a voter registration through the Division of Motor Vehicles. In 2016, a law required the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) update its systems to do automated voter registration. The effective date has been pushed back to July 1, 2019. The proposed bill would extend the deadline to July 1, 2020 so the DMV, Department of Transportation (DOT), and Secretary of State can update their systems entirely to comply with previous legislation.
House Bill 2459 would give the state of West Virginia the authority to opt out of a federal statue regarding the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Federal law states people who have been convicted for a drug possession cannot receive SNAP benefits. West Virginia is one of only three states that comply with the 1996 federal statute.
The Committee approved all three bills, and were reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
The House Committee on Government Organization convened at 9 a.m. in 215-E and then 2 p.m. to continue the posted agenda in 434-M. The committee met to discuss three pieces of legislation, all of which passed through committee.
House Bill 2699 would add a restriction requiring that the land area annexed by municipal annexation by minor boundary adjustment shall include that 50 percent or more of the land area annexed is occupied residential.
The bill generated some discussion as to how restrictive it would be to county commissions in terms of annexing certain property, or if it would add too much bureaucracy to the existing process. After limited debate, the bill passed through the Committee and was advanced to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Another bill, House Bill 2708, was also moved to the House Committee on the Judiciary. This bill would create the Local Government Labor and Consumer Marketing Regulatory Limitation Act. The bill prohibits political subdivisions from enacting any ordinance, regulation, local policy, local resolution or other legal requirements regulating certain areas of employer-employee relationship and the sale or marketing of consumer merchandise.
This bill seeks to restrict the prohibition of certain material such as plastic containers, bags, and other similar consumer merchandise. The bill also prohibits a political subdivision from increasing the minimum wage in a job, job applications, how employees organize, and how hours and scheduling are handled. All employer-employee relationships would be subject to state statute, and no law regarding these items passed by a political subdivision would be considered valid.
Delegate Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming, proposed an amendment to strike some of the language, therefore giving local municipalities more control at the local as to handling regulations.
The bill passed as amended and was advanced to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
House Bill 2330 was also passed and advanced to the House Floor, which would allow for the licensure of military personnel in certain technical fields. If a service member obtains a MOS related to the fields of plumbing, HVAC operation, or fire safety installation, they can also opt to take the examination for state licensure without going through additional state training.
Senate Bill 316 was highly discussed by the Senate Pensions Committee, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.
The proposed legislation would preserve previously approved state Municipal Policemen's or Firemen's pensions. Blair Taylor, executive director of the West Virginia Municipal Pensions Oversight Board, came before the committee to address concerns surrounding increased pensions plans for police officers and firefighters.
According to Taylor, pensions may raise to 75 percent once a police officer or firefighter completes 30 years of service.
The director also addressed questions pertaining to the calculations of pensions and explained that following the passage of House Bill 2601, the oversight board doesn’t calculate pensions. Passage of the House Bill prompted the local board in Morgantown to contact the Attorney General to ask if the legislation was retroactive. Ultimately, it was indicated that local boards needed to address and correct any pensions that were incorrectly paid.
Following review of the bill, committee members voted to report 316 to the full Senate but first be referenced to the committee on finance.
Of the other three pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 38, which exempts DNR police officers' pension benefits from state income tax, was under reconsideration. Attention was drawn back to the bill following rising concerns regarding litigation. The bill was tabled following a motion moved Romano.
Finally, Senate Bill 26, which would permit certain employees of educational service cooperatives participate in state's teacher retirement systems, received a committee substitute. Senate Bill 341, which would establish a minimum monthly retirement annuity for retirants with 20 or more years of service, received an amendment by Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood. Both bills were reported to the full Senate.
The House of Delegates convened at 11 am on Wednesday, Feb 6 in the House Chamber to consider legislation. The House passed four bills that were on third reading this day, one of which was a bill to address the state’s overabundance of abandoned gas and oil wells.
House Bill 2779 is a bill that would transfer unclaimed funds produced from abandoned oil and gas wells to the WV Oil and Gas Reclamation Fund. If an oil/gas well remains unclaimed for seven years, the proceeds from that well will go to the state fund, which works to plug orphaned and nonfunctioning oil and gas wells throughout the state.
The bill aims to solve the issue of the surplus of abandoned wells in the state by providing more funds for the state to plug them. The bill passed unanimously through the House, and was advanced to the Senate for further consideration.
Other bills that were passed today included House Bill 2363, which would authorize the length that the Upper Kanawha Valley Resiliency and Revitilization Program to be extended to the end of October 2024 instead of 2020. The program is required to report its findings and accomplishments to the Legislature every October until then. This program is an effort to revitalize the upper areas of the Kanawha Valley, an area that has been economically struggling since the closure of a community college within the region.
House Bill 2490 is a bill that would allow public pools in the state to make small renovations and improvements without consulting the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources. The bill would also prevent the Secretary from proposing or enforcing any rules which prevent recreational water facilities from making necessary upgrades, renovations, or repairs. These renovations could not exceed $25,000. This bill also passed through the House unanimously.
House Bill 2691 also passed easily through the House and was advanced to the Senate for further consideration.
This bill would change the expiration dates for newly issued concealed carry permits in the state of WV. Instead of the expiration of these permits occurring five years to the date of application, this bill would mandate that the expiration occurs on the applicant’s birthday after the permit has been active for five years. This would ensure simplicity as to when the licenses expire, and aligns the expiry of concealed carry licenses with state drivers’ licenses expiration dates.
These four bills passed through the House, and several bills moved through their second readings without amendments. These bills included Senate Bill 324, House Bill 2204, House Bill 2479, House Bill 2481, House Bill 2608, and House Bill 2606.
Senate Bill 240, another bill that was on second reading, was postponed until the next House Floor Session.
The House adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, February 7.
House Committees Meeting Today After Floor Session:
The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security will meet at 1 p.m. in 434-M.
The House Committee on Government Organization will continue their posted agenda at 2 p.m. in 434-M.
The House Committee on the Judiciary will continue their posted agenda at 2 p.m. in 410-M.
The House Committee on Education will meet at 3 p.m. in 215-E.
House Committees Meeting Tomorrow Before Floor Session:
The House Committee on Education will meet at 9 a.m. in 215-E.
The House Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development will meet at 9 a.m. in 434-M.
The House Committee on Banking and Insurance will meet 10 a.m. in 434-M.
The Senate held regular floor session on Wednesday to discuss seven bills.
Senate Bill 154 would require county boards of education to allow school facilities in the county to be used for the funeral or memorial service of a community member of distinction who was a military service member, veteran who served under honorable conditions, or who served as a first responder.
Senate Bill 157 is a part of Rules Bundle 2 which includes three rules. The bill would allow a vendor contracts to be cancelled if it was awarded in error.
Senate Bill 175 is a part of Rules Bundle 5 and includes nine rules. The bill would set out the process for exchange of data from various entities with the Office of Drug Control Policy. The information would be uploaded to a database on fatal and non-fatal overdoses.
Senate Bill 267 would require the State Board adopt a policy detailing the appropriate level of computer science instruction to be available to students at each level.
Senate Bill 387 would authorize the Governor seek return of fugitives found in other states or District of Columbia.
Senate Bill 392 would allow the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation to pay contract claims that are not otherwise provided for.
House Bill 2462 would allow correctional employees to carry firearms if they:
Senate Bills 533 to 541 were also introduced.
The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.
The following committees will meet today:
Economic Development at 1 p.m. in 208W
Pensions at 2 p.m. in 451M
Agriculture at 2 p.m. in 208W
Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M
Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
Finance at 9:30 a.m. in 451M
Natural Resources at 10 a.m. in 208W
Health at 1 p.m. in 451M
Education at 2 p.m. in 451M
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Tuesday afternoon to discuss one joint resolution and two bills on the agenda.
For two days, committee members had long discussions over Senate Joint Resolution 5.
Senate Joint Resolution 5 would amend Article IV of the West Virginia State Constitution. It would clarify that courts have no authority or jurisdiction to interfere with impeachment proceedings of the House of Delegates or the Senate, and that a judgment rendered by the Senate following an impeachment trial is not reviewable in any court in the state. The Committee approved the Resolution, and it was referred to the Committee on Finance.
Senate Bill 317 would authorize three or more contiguous counties to form a multi-county trail network authority. The legislation would allow multi-county trail network authorities to incorporate private land into authority-managed trail systems. Each authority would be governed by a board, and would include and executive director. The director would be required to submit an annual budget.
Senate Bill 408 would clarify who has the authority to make determinations of indigency for the purpose of eligibility for public defender services. Administrators or Public Defender employees would make the determination.
Both bills were reported to the Senate to be voted upon.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources had a consideration of two pieces of legislation, one of which being an originating bill to update the list of Schedule I drugs in the state of West Virginia.
The originating bill aims to add a number of designer drugs to the state list of Schedule I drugs. Schedule I is a category of drugs designated by the DEA for having no medicinal properties and for having a severe risk for abuse.
The bill in its original form generated little contention, but a series of amendments proposed by Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, and Delegate Mick Bates, D-Raleigh, generated a lengthy discussion.
Delegate Pushkin moved to amend the bill, arguing to move the “cannabis” and “marihuana” referred to in the legislation from Schedule I to Schedule IV.
The amendment was ultimately overruled by the chairman, Delegate Joe Ellington, R- Mercer. The argument was that the amendment was not germane to the proposed legislation, as the originating bill only seeks to amend the Schedule I list and there was no mechanism to move any of the items to Schedule
Delegate Pushkin addressed this by introducing another amendment to completely remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs, arguing that if he “couldn’t reschedule it, he would de-schedule it.”
“In the 1970’s, a mistake was made by adding this drug onto the list of Schedule I drugs,” Pushkin said. “This body voted last year that this drug has medicinal properties, let’s follow through on that. By passing this, we can send the message that this drug never belonged here in the first place.” Pushkin said.
The amendment ultimately failed in a 13-10 vote.
An amendment to the originating bill did pass through the Health and Human Resources, an amendment that would update the language in the code in reference to marijuana.
Delegate Mick Bates moved to amend the bill by changing the references to “marihuana” to instead read “marijuana, sp. (cannabis)” in the code, therefore mirroring the federal DEA regulations.
The originating bill, sponsored by the House Health and Human Resources Committee, was voted to be advanced to the House Floor with recommendation that it pass as amended.
“Thank you for allowing us to have this consideration,” Pushkin said in closing remarks. “A lot of people in the state are honestly using this plant already, so we have a lot of work to do in the future. We need to educate ourselves on this, and be prepared to continue discussing this.”
The Committee also had a consideration of House Bill 2583, a bill that would permit a pharmacist to dispense a self-administered hormonal contraceptive under a standing prescription drug order. The proposed legislation would create an opt-in program, where pharmacists could voluntarily dispense a 12-month supply of hormonal birth control. Pharmacists who wish to opt into this program must receive training and administer the proper counseling to patients who seek to receive the contraceptive drug.
The House Committee on Health and Human Resources voted unanimously to advance this bill to the House Floor with the recommendation that it pass.
The Senate Finance Committee reviewed multiple pieces of legislation, 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Of the seven bills on the agenda, five were received from the Senate while two were retrieved from the House. In total, six of the bills were reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they each pass.
While Senate Bills 13, 14, 19 and 499 were reported to the full Senate, Senate Bill 147, which would shift funding from the Landfill Closure Assistance Fund to local solid waste authorities, was laid over. The decision to lay over the bill followed Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, raising concern over whether or not the potential legislation could jeopardize existing landfill plans from counties.
Senate Bill 19, which relates to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, received a committee substitute.
The Senate Committee for Government Organization reviewed the committee substitute for Senate Bill 496, 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb 5.
The proposed legislation, which would transfer the authority to regulate milk from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Department of Agriculture, was highly questioned by committee members.
Following the reading of the bill, Judy Vallandingham Director of Public Health Sanitation at the Bureau of Public Health, came before the committee to address concerns pertaining the the transfer.
According to Vallandingham, a special task force was created to evaluate the potential need for a transfer, and a majority found that the Department of Agriculture would greatly benefit by acquiring the authority. The task force featured a representative from the DHHR, a representative from the Department of Agriculture, a representative from the milk industry and three Senators.
Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, questioned if the transfer would potentially affect the quality of milk meant for consumption. Vallandingham assured the Senator that the product would be tested through multiple checks in order to produce healthy grade A milk.
The committee also reviewed Senate Bill 352 which relates to the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation acquiring and disposing of goods and commodities.
Both bills were voted to be sent to the full Senate with the recommendation that they each pass.
Today in the House of Delegates during the introduction of bills one delegate proposed a motion for the House to postpone a Senate education bill indefinitely.
House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, 49, motioned that the motion to postpone the bill be tabled. The House then voted on Summers' motion to table which passed 52-44 with four members absent. The House referred Senate Bill 451 to the Committee on Education and then Finance.
The House passed these bills Tuesday:
All other bills on second and first were advanced with no amendments made.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources met Tuesday afternoon to discuss three bills on the agenda.
House Bill 2492 would direct all reports of abuse and neglect to the central office of Department of Health and Human Resources. The Committee unanimously approved the House Bill, and reported it to the full Senate to be vote upon.
Senate Bill 394 would allow the state of West Virginia to opt out of a federal statute that would not allow an individual living in the state who has previously been convicted of a felony involving a controlled substance from receiving benefits under the supplemental nutrition program (SNAP). The bill is currently tabled in committee.
Senate Bill 400 would permit the West Virginia Board of Dentistry to create specialty licenses. The bill would change the specific examination an applicant must pass before being issued a license to practice dentistry. The bill was approved, and was referred to the Committee on Government Organization.
Members of the Senate unanimously passed three resolutions prior to second reading, Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Passage of the resolutions follows extensive floor debates concerning Senate Bill 451 last week. No resolutions were passed during floor sessions where discussion and passage of the comprehensive education bill took place.
Senate Resolution 27, which designated Feb. 5, 2019 as West Virginia Alzheimer’s Day, was presented by Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, while Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, presented Senate Resolutions 28 and 29.
The life and career of Joe Retton, a former men’s basketball coach at Fairmount State University was commemorated by resolution 28 and resolution 29 congratulated Doug Nuzum for winning the Earle S. Dillard Insurance Agent of Year Award.
Following resolutions, members of the Senate advanced eight bills to third reading, and of those bills, two received committee substitutes. The committee substitute for Senate Bill 154 would allow for the use of school facilities for funeral and memorial services pertaining to certain community members.
The following committees will meet today:
The House Committee on Industry and Labor met at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to consider two pieces of legislation, one of which would strike language requiring workers on state-funded construction projects to report certified payroll information to the WV Division of Labor.
House Bill 2441 would amend current statute which requires the employers working on publicly funded construction projects to submit payroll information containing their employees’ counties of residence, addresses, and the number of employees working on a given project. The bill would strike this requirement, allowing the WV Division of Labor to get needed compliance information from already conducted spot-checks.
Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, lead sponsor of the bill, argued that the passage would protect the privacy of the employees working on these sites.
“Somebody’s personally identifiable information should not be public information,” Foster said.
House Bill 2441 generated lengthy debate regarding transparency and the legislation’s implication for the West Virginia Jobs Act.
Opponents of the bill, such as Shawn Fluharty, D- Ohio, argued that passage of House Bill 2441 would complicate compliance with the West Virginia Jobs Act, which ensures that public construction projects give employment preference to West Virginia citizens.
“The West Virginia Jobs Act is crucial to keeping jobs in West Virginia,” Fluharty said. “The passage of this bill would make it harder for us to pinpoint where these employees live, where they’re coming from, and it makes it easier for employers to hire illegal immigrants for these jobs instead.”
Other opponents argued that House Bill 2441 reduced transparency regarding state taxpayer dollars.
Delegate Rodney Miller, D-Boone, spoke to the issue of transparency.
“The need for transparency in our state transcends politics, we can agree to the importance of transparency across both sides of the aisle. The public deserves to know what happens with public money. The passage of this bill enhances the ability for these contractors to violate our state code.” Miller said.
Mitch Woodrum, the WV Commissioner of Labor, was available to answer questions pertaining to the bill.
Woodrum testified that while the legislation may perhaps make it easier for illegal immigrants to slip through the cracks and gain these employment positions, that the Division of Labor is committed to conducting spot checks to ensure that West Virginians are getting first preference when it comes to these state projects.
There was a request for the WV Press Association to also answer questions, but the request was denied by the Chair due to time constraints.
Despite heated discussion, House Bill 2441 was approved by the committee, and advanced to the House Committee on the Judiciary for second reference.
The House Committee on Industry and Labor also had a consideration of House Concurrent Resolution 25, a resolution that would request the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study and analyze the discrepancy between estimates and actual readings of electrical meters. This is due to widespread state complaints regarding electrical meters.
House Concurrent Resolution 25 was unanimously approved by the Committee, and was advanced to the House Floor with the recommendation that it be adopted but first be referenced to the House Committee on Rules.
The Senate Finance Committee swiftly reviewed six bills following Banking and Insurance, 4:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.
The brief meeting followed an extensive floor session which saw the passage of the omnibus education bill.
Senate Bills 16, 30, 90, 323, 346 and 263 were each reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they pass. Four pieces of the legislation received committee substitutes from committee members.
One committee substitute, relating to Senate Bill 90, would transfer the Safety and Treatment Program from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Division of Motor Vehicles .
Adam Holley, general counsel for the division, addressed Senators and explained that the program was originally owned by the DMV and later transferred to the DHHR in 2009. Holley contributed the original transfer due to the DHHR being better equipped for handling the program.
Members also reviewed Senate Bill 323 which would establish a revenue fund in order to support the Department of Agriculture's improvement to facilities. The bill was originally introduced last year where it passed through the Senate and House and was vetoed by the Governor.
The Senate Committee for Banking and Insurance review four Senate Bills, 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4.
Following their agenda, the committee discussed four bills, three of which are committee substitutes, and unanimously motioned to send the legislation to the full body with the recommendation that they each pass. All three of the committee substitutes are double referenced to the Senate Judiciary Committee also.
Senate Bill 47 would exempt nonpaid volunteers at ski areas from receiving workers' compensation benefits.
Senate Bill 340 would repeal obsolete provisions of the WV Medical Professional Liability Insurance Joint Underwriting Association.
Senate Bill 453 relates to background checks of certain financial institutions.
Among the many bills the House Judiciary Committee discussed Monday, three were specifically referenced for the committee to look over.
These three bills relate to estates administrations as well as ownership of estates and each passed the committee and will be reported to the House without any amendments.
House Bill 2740 would bar a parent from inheriting from a child in certain instances. Currently, a parent who has had his or her parental rights terminated, may still inherit form their child. Further, a child may not inherit from a biological parent who dies interstate after his or her parental rights to said child have been terminated. This bill amends the definition of “parent” by adding a sentence that references the new section which bars a parent from inheriting from or through a child in certain instances.
The bill seeks to bar a parent from inheriting from a child if parental rights are terminated by court order and the parent-child relationship has not been judicially re-established or if the child died before reaching 18 and there is clear and convincing evidence that immediately before the child’s death, the parental rights of the parent could have been terminated under the law of this state for nonsupport, abandonment, abuse, neglect, or other actions or inactions of the parent toward the child. The bill also permits a child to inherit from a barred parent as long as a parent-child relationship does not exist between the child as an adoptee with another person.
House Bill 2746 relates to administration of estates. The purpose of this bill is to allow the county commission to administratively close un-progressed or dormant estates. If the county commission administratively closes an estate, the personal representative is still liable in a civil action to heirs, beneficiaries, or interested parties for property or assets of the decedent or the estate.
House Bill 2759 provides for ancillary administration of West Virginia real estate owned by non-residents by affidavit and without administration. The bill simplifies the procedure by which West Virginia real estate property owned by nonresident decedents is probated.
Other bills passed by the committee are:
House Bill 2809 relates to prohibited acts and penalties in the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area. Currently, certain acts are prohibited as they relate to the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. A person who commits one of the enumerated acts is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than $100. Under this bill, people who do not remain within and on a designated and marked trail will be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000. Persons who do not remain within and on a designated and marked trail and cause damage to a landowners property or interfere with a landowners use of the property will be subject to a fine of not less than $2,000.
House Bill 2761 relates to modernizing the self-service storage lien law. West Virginia’s lien law was passed in 2001 and has not been updated since that time. This bill seeks to modernize West Virginia’s self-storage lien law to reflect technological advances and contemporary industry practices. The bill was heavily discussed and four amendments were added to it. Texting was added to the electronic messaging system of the bill, blanket immunity now only applies to someone acting in good faith in the storage unit, and a new subdivision creates additional requirements for the military.
House Bill 2647 is the self-storage limited license act. This bill establishes a limited lines insurance license to allow owners of self-service storage facilities to obtain a license to sell, solicit or offer self-service storage insurance coverage to occupants. The bill requires the insure issuing the self-service storage insurance to appoint a supervising entity to supervise the administration of the program including development of a training program for employees and authorized representatives of the owner who sell, solicit, or offer self-service storage insurance.
House Bill 2815 raises the value of goods or chattels that are taken in a larceny to constitute grand larceny. The purpose of this bill is to increase the monetary value of goods or chattels stolen to be considered grand larceny.
The Judiciary committee will meet again on Wednesday, January 4.
After many days and hours of debate and deliberation, the Senate passed Senate Bill 451, comprehensive education reform, on Monday by a vote of 18-16. The bill was reported to the House of Delegates.
The 140-page bill introduces major educational reform for West Virginia. The legislation would introduce public charter schools, education savings accounts (ESA), a $250 tax credit for teachers buying supplies, 5 percent pay increase to teachers and service personnel, and a $500 bonus for teachers who miss less than 10 days during an academic year.
Some senators expressed concerns with public charter schools and education savings accounts.
The charter schools could be open in any school district, and is an op-in. Students and their families would have to apply for admission into a charter school, and would be first-come first-serve.
Education savings accounts would be open for 2,500 students who attend public charter schools in the state at any one time. Funds in the account can also roll over year to year. If a student enrolls in public school, then their ESA account would result in immediate suspension.
The Senate also passed 11 other bills, which include:
Senate bills 512 to 520 were also introduced.
The following committees will meet today:
Banking at 3:30 p.m. in 451M
Finance ten minutes after Banking in 451M
Judiciary ten minutes after Banking in 208W
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
Transportation at 10 a.m. in 451M
Health at 1 p.m. in 451M
Education at 2 p.m. in 451M
The House Committee on Government Organization convened at 2 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 to consider four bills on the agenda.
House Bill 2528 would authorize the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture to employ a general counsel that would be necessary to perform the duties of the office.
House Bill 2528 was approved by the House Committee on Government Organization unanimously, and was recommended to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.
House Bill 2696 would create a naming convention to records lands owned by the state in an index system for easy cross-reference to county indexes. This would create an index system for attorneys searching for title information that would be specific to each county.
This new series of books would mostly serve to provide easily accessed information regarding state agencies whose names have changed. For example, information pertinent to the WV Division of Highways would also be made more accessible under the agency’s previous name, the State Roads Commission.
House Bill 2696 also approved by the House Committee on Government Organization unanimously, and was recommended to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.
House Bill 2601 was also advanced to the House floor. This bill would ensure the review and approval of state property leases by requiring two signatures and the review and approval of leasing of state property to nongovernment entities.
House Bill 2392 was also advanced to the House floor, a bill that would allow 1-day licenses to be issued by the Alcoholic Beverages Commission for charitable events. This would allow those who are hosting a charitable event to apply for a single day license to sell non-intoxicating alcohol, such as beer and wine.
The House of Delegates considered several pieces of proposed legislation, heard a memorial resolution for the late James M. Casey, and listened to several noteworthy remarks from delegates at 11 a.m. on Monday, February 4 in the House Chamber.
The House of Delegates first adopted and read aloud House Resolution 10, a resolution honoring the late James Michael Casey, who passed this past October.
James Michael Casey was honored for being a former member of the House of Delegates, as well as an active attorney. He was also a lobbyist, and an “advocate for his community”. The House honored him and his family, who were present to accept the resolution.
There were second bills on third reading on this day, the 27th day of the legislative session.
House Bill 2607 is a bill that would make certain technical changes to existing code regarding the licensure of nursing homes. It would change the language to revise the reportage requirements for licensed nursing homes in the state. The strike-and-insert legislation cleans up some language in the previous code in order to better specify the Secretary of DHHR’s administrative responsibilities, as well as specify the requirements of licensed state nursing homes as far as reportage goes.
The bill passed the House and was advanced to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2612 would authorize the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to update rules regarding the source water protection plans throughout the state. Currently, each public water utility is mandated to report the status of their water and a water protection plan to the state commission every three years. This bill would allow the timeframe of this reportage to be more flexible in order to give these water utilities more time to review the status of their water protection.
House Bill 2612 was unanimously passed as well, and advanced to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2420, another bill on second reading, was postponed for one day.
Several Delegates made noteworthy remarks at the end of this House floor session.
Delegate Evan Hansen, D- Monongalia, spoke of his sponsorship of House Bill 2589. Hansen described this bill as a piece of legislation that would loosen energy restrictions on West Virginia companies, and allow the state to be more inclusive of companies utilizing solar energy.
“The fastest growing energy sector is that of solar energy,” Hansen said. “Like it or not, the world is changing. You can dig in your heels and keep making the current economy look like the economy has for fifty years, but I ask that you support all job options—not just the ones that have sustained us for the past century.”
Delegate Dianna Graves, R- Kanawha, made comments commending the bipartisanship within the House this legislative session.
“I’m impressed with how bipartisan we have been under the current Speaker,” Graves said. “Lifting all boats doesn’t work if half of us are left behind, so let’s keep this up.”
The House of Delegates is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, February 5th.
The following committees will meet today after the House Floor Session:
-The House Committee on Technology and Infrastructure will meet at 1 p.m. in 215-E.
-The House Committee on Finance will meet at 2 p.m. in 460-M.
-The House Committee on the Judiciary will continue their morning meeting at 2 p.m. in 410-M.
-The House Committee on Government Organization will meet at 2 p.m. in 215-E.
-The House Committee on Education will meet at 3 p.m. in 434-M.
-The House Committee on Fire and Emergency Medical Services will meet at 4 p.m. in 215-E.
The following committees will meet tomorrow before the House Floor Session:
-The House Committee on Agricultural and Natural Resources will meet at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow in 215-E.
-The House Committee on Industry and Labor will meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow in 215-E.
A total of six amendments were adopted to Senate Bill 451 following a brief recess Friday.
The second reading of the comprehensive education reform bill received a number of amendments with a select few being accepted by Senators. The series of proposed changes follow the adjournment of the committee on the whole Thursday, Jan. 31.
In addition to 451, 11 other Senate Bills were features on second reading and were advanced to third reading.
Prior to second reading, numerous bills were also featured during third reading with Senate Bill 4, which relates generally to the Municipal Home Rule Program, receiving a total of four amendments. Following the additions, members voted to pass the legislation.
Senate Bill 103 relates generally to the Public Defender Service.
Senate Bill 233 relates to changing the age requirements for deputy sheriffs applicants.
Senate Bill 390 would require electric utilities to submit a series of feasibility studies when constructing and operating middle-mile broadband internet projects.
The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. Monday morning.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met for a quick meeting Friday afternoon to discuss Senate Bill 163.
Senate Bill 163, Bundle 3, is the final rules bundle to come out of the Committee. The bill consists of eight other bills relating to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The rules bundle was approved by the Committee, and was reported to the Senate to be voted upon.
The Judiciary committee advanced a bill dealing with criminal offense expungement, expanding the Second Chance for Employment Act.
Senate Bill 152 relates generally to criminal offense expungement. This bill is an expansion on a bill that passed in 2017, Senate Bill 76. This previous bill only applied to non-violent misdemeanors. The current bill would add non-violent felonies to this statute.
This bill expands expungement of nonviolent felonies, sets a timeframe for expungement, and incorporates the governor’s “Jim’s Dream” program for second chance programs. The strike and insert bill will next head to the House Finance Committee.
The Judiciary Committee also reviewed House Bill 2321, which would allow workers compensation benefits for first responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The committee briefly discussed the bill and what it incorporated but decided it would be reviewed by a subcommittee.
The Judiciary Committee advanced House Bill 2365, which relates to the definition of employee for the purposes of unemployment compensation and worker’s compensation. This bill amends state code to standardize the “independent contractor” inquiry. This bill incorporates the 20 factor test, which is used by the IRS, into worker’s compensation and unemployment compensation cases. This bill next heads to the House floor.
Another bill the committee discussed was House Bill 2481. which would permit retail liquor licenses to sell alcoholic beverages from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. This would only apply to beer and wine. The committee reported this bill to the House.
The Judiciary Committee also discussed House Bill 2686, which relates to permitting the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia to create a family drug court pilot program. Currently, state code does not provide for Family Drug Treatment Courts.
This would permit family drug court programs and would only operate with abuse and neglect cases. This bill also establishes a state advisory committee, which would provide more local involvement in treatment courts. The bill passed the committee and was reported to the House.
The West Virginia House of Delegates took up and passed a bill exempting Social Security benefits from personal income tax.
In Friday’s floor session, the House reviewed House Bill 2001. This bill relates to exempting social security benefits from personal income tax.
Delegates in favor of the bill stated that the elderly deserved this bill and that it would benefit our state as well as reduce taxes. Those who showed reluctance toward the bill were unsure of the how well it would actually benefit the state and warned that its consequences be monitored.
Other bills on third reading that passed the house include
· Senate Bill 27: Removes restrictions on where certain traditional lottery games may be played
· Senate Bill 255: Relates to emergency medical services advisory committee
· House Bill 2472: Relates to a reserving methodology for health insurance and annuity contracts
· House Bill 2476: Relates to the valuation of a motor vehicle involved in an insurance claim
· House Bill 2478: Modifies the Fair Trade Practices Act
· House Bill 2480: Relates to the regulation of an internationally active insurance group
· House Bill 2524: Permits a pharmacist to convert prescriptions authorizing refills under certain circumstances
· House Bill 2679: Relates to state issued identification cards
Bills appearing on second reading and advanced to third reading were:
· House Bill 2607: Relates to the licensure of nursing homes
· House Bill 2612: Proposes rules related to the completion or updating of source water protection plans
All bills on first reading were advanced.
Some delegates voiced their opinions and concerns over the omnibus education bill, Senate Bill 251, in Some delegates who spoke made it known that they are listening to the procedures happening in the Senate and are ready for the bill to enter the House.
The House of Delegates will reconvene 11 a.m. Monday.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Friday morning to discuss two bills before the Senate Floor Session.
Senate Bill 109 would correct an internal code reference as a result of a bill passed in the 2016 regular session exempting certain persons from prohibitions against carrying concealed handguns or deadly weapons on the property of another.
Senate Bill 127 relates specifically to probation officers. The bill would authorize probation officers to preform alcohol and drug testing of litigants as directed by the circuit and family courts.
Both Bills were approved by the Committee, and were reported to the Senate to be voted upon.
The Committee is adjourned until later this afternoon.