In the first few weeks of the 2016 legislative session, top agenda items involving labor were sent back-and-forth between the chambers.
Senate Bill 1 - Establishing WV Workplace Freedom Act - would prohibit any requirement a person become or remain a member of a labor organization as a condition of employment. The bill would also prohibit any requirement a person must pay dues or other fees to a labor organization and prohibit any requirement that a person contribute to a charity in lieu of paying dues or other fees to a labor organization.
The West Virginia Senate, after a lengthy and passionate debate, passed SB 1 out of the full Senate on Jan. 21.
On Jan. 28, the House of Delegates held a public hearing on the measure. During the hearing, the House Judiciary Committee heard mixed opinions on the measure in a packed House Chamber.
“The passage of this bill provides West Virginia workers with an enhanced degree of freedom and security. No longer could workers be fired simply for refusing to join or pay dues to a union”, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael. “In addition, companies and job producers that will only locate in states that provide workers with the workplace freedom associated with this legislation will now be able to consider locating in our state to provide jobs and opportunities for our citizens.”
The House of Delegates also passed House Bill 4005 - repealing the requirement of paying prevailing hourly rate of wages for construction of public improvements. The bill would repeal the article requiring public authorities engaged in the construction of public improvements to pay a prevailing hourly rate of wages.
A similar bill was introduced last year, discussed and debated but in the end, the Legislature decided to study the issue and recalculate the rate for the prevailing wage.
Before a vote on the House floor, Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, asked for an economic impact statement. House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said for the statement to be considered the House had to vote to suspend the rules. The vote would have required a two-thirds majority. Sponaugle’s request was denied, and the bill passed the House 55-44 on Jan. 27th. The bill has now been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
“We must treat the taxpayers fairly – this bill does that,” said House Majority Leader Cowles. “It will also put West Virginia workers to work by creating more jobs and more projects.”
Discussion on these issues will continue in the respective chambers in the coming weeks. Follow this and any issue before the Legislature on the website, www.wvlegislature.gov
As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, January 29, 2016, the 17th day of the second sessions of the 82nd Legislature, 435 bills have been introduced in the Senate. Of those, 20 of the bills have passed and have been sent to the House for further consideration. Among those:
Senate Bill 13 would increase penalties for overtaking and passing school buses for the purpose of receiving and discharging children. If the license plate number of any vehicle is obtained, it can be inferred that the owner of the vehicle was the driver at the time of the violation.
Senate Bill 32 would require the Secretary of State to create a notarized statement of withdrawal form in order to have one’s name removed from a ballot. It will help clarify the process for determining a candidate is disqualified.
Senate Bill 102 would provide any person employed by a West Virginia state, county or municipal agency who is a qualified law-enforcement officer with appropriate photo identification and certification of training required to carry a concealed firearm. This falls under the federal Law-Enforcement Officers Safety Act, 18 U.S.C.
Senate Bill 107 would create the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act. The act relates to issuing subpoenas, depositions, production, inspection, uniformity of application and construction.
Senate Bill 157 would authorize the Department of Revenue to promulgate legislative rules. It would cover the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, Lottery Commission, Racing Commission and the Department of Tax and Revenue.
Senate Bill 195 would authorize the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate legislative rules. It would establish community paramedicine demonstration projects. A community paramedicine means the practice by an emergency medical services provider primarily in and out-of-hospital setting of providing episodic patient evaluation, advice, and care directed at preventing or improving a particular medical condition which may require emergency medical services providers to function outside their customary emergency response and transport roles in ways that facilitate more appropriate use of emergency care resources and enhance access to primary care for medically vulnerable populations.
Senate Bill 262 would eliminate the need for law enforcement to obtain court order prior to having access to inmate mail and phone recordings. The content of an inmate’s telephone calls may be disclosed to an appropriate law-enforcement agency when disclosure is necessary for the investigation, prevention or prosecution of a crime or to safeguard the orderly operation of the correctional institution.
Senate Bill 290 would authorize assignment without notarization or required statement that assignment cannot be for more than 25 percent of employee’s wages. It will allow for wage assignments to be valid for longer than one year. It will also remove requirements for written agreement to pay employees by payroll cards.
Senate Bill 311 would allow permanent exception for mortgage modification or refinancing loan under federal Making Home Affordable programs. It would be put in place when the aggregate total of the outstanding principal balances of all other primary or subordinate mortgage loans secured by the same property exceeds the fair market value of the property.
Senate Bill 323 would correct statute subsection designations regarding trespassing on property.
Senate Bill 342 would decrease appropriations from State Fund, General Revenue, to DHHR, Division of Human Services and Bureau of Senior Services.
Senate Bill 357 would supplement appropriation from Lottery Net Profits to Bureau of Senior Services, Lottery Senior Citizens Fund.
Senate Bill 360 would supplement appropriation to Division of Human Services.
Senate Bill 364 would supplement appropriation to expiring funds from General Revenue.
Senate Bill 2 would require public authorities to pay prevailing hourly rate of wages. The bill would repeal sections of the West Virginia Code.
Senate Bill 9 would create Intermediate Court of Appeals. There shall be elected one judge of the circuit court of every judicial circuit entitled to one judge and one , and one judge for each numbered division of the judicial circuit in those judicial circuits entitled to two or more circuit judges.
Senate Bill 27 would permit county commissions hire outside attorneys for collection of taxes through the courts or to represent the county before any United States Bankruptcy Court.
Senate Bill 34 would limit liability of state, county and municipal parks and recreation entities and private landowners under certain agreements.
Senate Bill 51 would exempt certain employers from discriminating against tobacco users.
Senate Bill 58 would temporary reassignment of injured or ill county board of education service personnel.
Senate Bill 68 would disallow Health Care Authority to conduct rate review and set rates for hospitals.
Senate Bill 73 would create a felony crime of knowingly leaving scene of crash resulting in serious bodily injury.
Senate Bill 79 would allow WV National Guard and Reserve members free hunting and fishing licenses under certain circumstances.
Senate Bill 85 would require judicial circuits and counties to have special advocates for children in abuse and neglect proceedings.
Senate Bill 95 would require Chief Technology Officer ensure routine audits are made of approved major information technology projects.
Senate Bill 133 would increase salaries of certain DOC, Regional Jail Authority and Division of Juvenile Services employees.
Senate Bill 147 would provide consumers sales and service tax and use tax exemption for certain services and tangible personal property sold for repair, remodeling and maintenance or aircraft.
Senate Bill 252 would amend Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act to exclude oral communications.
Senate Bill 255 would permit creditor to collect and recover from consumer creditor’s reasonable expenses.
Senate Bill 257 would require Bureau of Child Support Enforcement to appear in every case involving an issue of setting child support.
Senate Bill 266 would limit appointed Property Valuation Training and Procedures Commission members’ terms.
Senate Bill 272 would allow investigators from Attorney General’s office to carry concealed weapons.
Senate Bill 281 would require health care providers and facilities to notify patient when mammogram indicates dense breast tissue.
Senate Bill 285 would allow adult adoptees and their descendants to access adoption records.
As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, January 29, 2016, the 17th day of the second sessions of the 82nd Legislature, 785 bills have been introduced in the Senate. Of those, 17 of the bills have passed and have been sent to the Senate for further consideration. Among those:
House Bill 4241 (Adding citizen members to the Real Estate Commission) would serve to add citizens and no practicing members to the board and to provide for their removal upon obtaining an active license. This bill is currently being discussed in the Committee of House Government Organization.
House Bill 4239 (Relating to construction of a modern highway from Pikeville, Kentucky to Beckley, West Virginia) would require reports and the purpose is to propose the construction of a modern highway from Pikeville, Kentucky to Beckley, West Virginia. The Bill calls for the Commissioner of Highways to determine how the highway can best be funded and constructed. The bill is currently being discussed in the Committee of House Roads and Transportation.
House Bill 2147 (Requiring the circuit court, when appointing counsel for alleged protected persons, to make appointments from a listing to all interested attorneys in the circuit) would work to require the circuit courts, when appointing counsel for alleged protected persons, to make appointments from a listing of all interested and qualified attorneys in the circuit and on a rotating basis. The appointments shall be made on a rotating basis. If no interested counsel are available, the court shall appoint any competent counsel it seems proper.
House Bill 2584 (Allowing a potential juror for jury duty until a later date based on seasonal employment) would allow a judge to excuse a potential juror from jury duty until a later date based on seasonal employment. This excuse shall be determined on the basis of information provided on the juror qualification form or interview with the prospective juror or other competent evidence whether the prospective juror should be excused from jury service.
House Bill 2588 (Relating to the filing of financial statements with the Secretary of State) would require financial disclosure forms to be filed with the Secretary of State electronically. Exceptions are in instances where a candidate has been unable to file the financial statement, and, providing for exceptions in the case of hardship.
House Bill 2796 (Providing paid leave for certain state officers and employees during a declared state of emergency) would work to provide paid leave for certain officers and employees during a declared state of emergency. The bill details that and state employment who is designated as an essential member of an emergency aid provider may be granted leave from his or her state employment with pay, for not more than fifteen work days in each year.
House Bill 2800 (Adding law-enforcement officers’ contact information and names of family members to the list of exemptions from public records requests) would work to add law-enforcement officers contact information and names and contact information of family members to the list of the Freedom of Information Act exemptions. This bill defines that it would provide exemptions for law-information voluntarily disclosed on campaign documentation and law-enforcement officer’s government issued email addressed and telephone numbers.
House Bill 4038 (Relating to insurance requirements for the refilling of topical eye medication) would allow patients with certain insurance companies to obtain 30 day refills of topical eye medicine as early as 21 days.
House Bill 2130 (Including law-enforcement officers among these professionals the assault or battery of which leads to enhanced criminal penalties) would work to include law-enforcement officers among those professionals the assault or battery of which leads to criminal penalties. This bill would add law-enforcement officers among the list of professionals the malicious assault, unlawful assault, battery which would lead to enhanced criminal penalties. This bill is now being sent to the Senate for further discussion.
House Bill 4005 (Repealing prevailing hourly rate of wages requirements) would repeal the prevailing hourly wages requirements. These wage requirements applied specifically to contractors hired to work on public projects.
House Bill 4322 (Expanding the Learn and Earn Program) House Bill 4322 would work to change the Learn and Earn Program to allow more students to participate in the program. This is done by eliminating the authorization to use program funding for equipment purchases. This bill is now up for discussion in the House Education Committee.
House Bill 4315 (Relating to air-ambulance fees for emergency treatment or air transportation) House Bill 4315 would work to set the maximum amount for air-ambulance services which may be collected pursuant to the plans of the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency. This bill is currently being discussed in the House Banking and Insurance Committee.
House Bill 4303 (Providing a salary increase for special education teachers) House Bill would work to provide a salary increase for special education teachers. This bill calls for an additional $500 to be paid annually to certified full time special education teachers for each area of special education he or she is certified, up to a maximum of three areas of $1,500. This bill is being discussed in the House Education Committee.
House Bill 4305 (Authorizing transportation network companies to operate in the state) House Bill 4305 would work to allow transportation network companies to operate in the state and to specify requirements and limitations with relation to such operations. These transportation network company drivers require a permit from the Division of Motor Vehicles to operate this company. This bill is being discussed in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.