Member's Press Release

Release Date: 01/22/2016
Contact: Jacque Bland at (304) 590-4678

President Cole

This Week in the West Virginia Senate

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Senate passed two bills this week and advanced several others through committee.

Passed: Senate Bill 1 – The West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act

  • Passed January 21, 2016, by a vote of 17-16
  • Sponsors: Senate President Cole, Blair (R-Berkeley), Boso (R-Nicholas), Ferns (R-Ohio), Gaunch (R-Kanawha), Trump (R-Morgan), Majority Leader Carmichael (R-Jackson), Sypolt (R-Preston), Takubo
  • The bill would eliminate the requirement of an employee to be a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment.
  • If the bill would be put into law, West Virginia would be the 26th right-to-work state in the United States.
  • “I believe this is a critical step toward bringing about the kind of change in West Virginia that is desperately needed to jump start our struggling economy,” Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer said. “For far too many years, the status quo has held our state back, and today is the first step in moving West Virginia forward.”

    Legislation to Watch

  • Senate Bill 6 -- Requiring drug screening and testing of applicants for TANF program
  • Sponsors: Ferns, Majority Leader Carmichael, Gaunch, Takubo, Trump, Prezioso (D-Marion), Stollings (D-Boone), Plymale (D-Wayne), Blair, Karnes (R-Upshur), Sypolt
  • Passed out of Senate Health and Human Resources Committee on January 19 by a vote of 12-1. It is now pending before the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Under this program, those recipients of TANF who fail drug tests would have to complete a substance abuse treatment program and job skills class paid for by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. A second failed test would prompt a one-year suspension of benefits. A third positive test would trigger a permanent ban.
  • Children who receive welfare benefits would not be removed from public assistance if a parent tested positive. Instead, benefits would be funneled through a third party.
  • Twelve states have similar programs; five of those offer treatment to those who test positive.
  • "There's two goals of this legislation. The first, and most important, is the drug epidemic that's in our state," lead sponsor Ryan Ferns told the Wheeling Intelligencer.
  • "This is an approach that we can take that I believe is a compassionate approach to identify individuals who need treatment and give them an incentive to get that treatment. ... The other part of it is we're trying to be good stewards of taxpayer money."

    Also Passed:

  • Senate Bill 263 -- Allowing travel and other expense reimbursement for members of Municipal Home Rule Board

    Passed January 20, 2016, by a vote of 33-0

  • Sponsors: Blair, Snyder (D-Jefferson)
  • This was the first bill passed of the 2016 Legislative Session
  • It would allow members of the Municipal Home Rule Board to be reimbursed for travel and other reasonable expenses while carrying out their duties

    Coming up for a vote in the Senate next week:

    Senate Bill 13 -- Increasing penalties for overtaking and passing stopped school buses

  • Sponsors: Majority Leader Carmichael, Boso, Gaunch, Leonhardt (R-Monongalia), Trump, Walters (R-Putnam), Blair, Takubo, Miller (D-Greenbrier), Unger (D-Berkeley)

    Senate Bill 102 – Conforming to federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act

  • Sponsors: Trump, Boso, Gaunch

    All Releases

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