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Today in the Legislature

Friday, May 31, 2019 - 02:44 PM

Special Session Call Amended

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

The governor issued the amended proclamation Friday. 

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



Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 03:07 PM

Senate to Reconvene Saturday, House to Reconvene June 17

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

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

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

***

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

These are the bills:

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

 



Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 10:33 AM

Governor Signs Four Bills From Special Session

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

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

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

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



Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 10:58 AM

Legislature Passes 18 bills, House Creates Four Select Education Committees

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

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

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

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

A list of completed legislation can be found here.

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

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

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

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

Bills advanced to second reading in the House were: 

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



Monday, May 20, 2019 - 05:50 PM

Delegate Chuck Little sworn into office

Wood County Delegate Chuck Little was sworn into office Monday.

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

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

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



Monday, May 20, 2019 - 05:49 PM

Flooding Committee Updated on School Construction, Stream Gauges

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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