The House Finance Committee advanced a bill that would provide an average 5 percent pay raise to State Police, teachers, and school service personnel.
The committee advanced House Bill 2730 in its Wednesday meeting. Later that day, the House took up the pay raise bill for immediate consideration and advanced the bill to second reading.
A public hearing is scheduled for Friday at 8 a.m. in the House Chamber regarding this bill.
The Finance Committee additionally took up and advanced two originating bills. One bill would create a Personal Income Tax Reduction Fund. The bill proposed an incremental reduction of personal income tax rates by 0.5 percent if certain conditions are met.
Another originating bill advanced out of committee would allow the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to submit a waiver application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to require certain able-bodied adults who receive Medicaid benefits to be employed or participate in a volunteer program for at least 20 hours a week.
Some delegates including Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, voiced their concerns with the bill. Rowe’s biggest concern was that the bill would roll back Medicaid expansion. Rowe also was concerned about the effect the bill could have on local hospitals.
“This would make ineligible the majority of 150,000 people that Medicaid was expanded to cover,” Rowe said.
Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, supported the bill. Ellington told the committee it could take up to 18 months for the waiver to come through.
“This program will try to get people back into doing something productive so we can take them out of Medicaid,” Ellington said. “Expansion is not guaranteed forever. It can fail. If it fails, we have people who are not able to take care of themselves. If people work already, they will not be penalized. They can continue their education or volunteer.”
The bill was advanced to the House floor in a 14-9 vote.
The committee rejected a bill that would have extended the maximum period of confinement a judge could impose for certain first-time probationary violations.
The committee substitute would have increased the maximum period of confinement a judge could impose for certain first-time probationary violations from 60 days to six months and would have provided judges greater sentencing discretion for certain subsequent probation violations.
House Bill 2109 was reported to the Finance Committee on third reading. However, committee members rejected a motion to report the bill to the floor.
The Judiciary Committee took up House Bill 3069 which relates to the right of certain persons to limit possession of firearms on premises.
This bill attempts to place in Code language borrowed from Texas, relating to securing firearms in cars at chemical plants and refineries. This effectively bars firearms in automobiles which are parked within the secured perimeter of such facilities. The committee spent time asking questions to speakers and to counsel to understand the bill fully, but ultimately it was rejected.
House Bill 3133 relates to requiring a parolee or probationer found to have suffered with addiction to participate in a support service. The bill seeks to require persons on probation or parole to participate in a support service for a minimum of 60 days. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2229 adds violations of law upon which a public servants retirement plan may be forfeited. The purpose of the bill is to redefine a public servants “less than honorable service” by identifying certain misdemeanor offenses related to a public servants office or committed while the public servant is employed that could cause the forfeiture of a participants retirement plan. The bill will reported to the House.
House Bill 2690 relates to guaranty associations. The bill seeks to update an article to maintain consistency with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association Model Act. The bill amends two provisions and will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2802 relates to Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. This bill seeks to prevent family wealth passed down through generations from being acquired by outside investors without first providing the family an opportunity to keep the land within their ownership and control. The committee asked multiple questions and after much discussion they finally passed the bill to be reported to the House.
House Bill 2718 requires purchasers of round wood to collect and maintain certain information. It provides that it is unlawful for any person or entity to purchase round wood without obtaining and recording certain information. This includes a photocopy of a valid license or timber license exemption issued by the Division of Forestry to the seller delivering the round wood, name and address of seller, and a complete description of the round wood purchased.
The bill was amended to take out “any person or entity” and replaced with “commercial purchaser.” The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2864 increases salaries of magistrates, supreme court justices, circuit court judges and family court judges. The last pay raise for this group was in 2011. The committee substitute capped the salary of the Supreme Court Justices at $150,000.000 per year. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2497 relates to the whistle-blower law. The purpose of this bill is to extend or clarify protections under the states whistle-law. The bill places in Code language which provides additional protections to whistle-blowers and new protective language. The bill was reported to the House.
House Bill 2441 removes certain requirements related to wages for construction of public improvements. This bill removes the requirement that a public authority or employer file with the Division of Labor a certified payroll with respect to public improvements. The bill does require, though, that public authorities or employers file the physical address of employees. The bill was reported to the House.
The House Education Committee met at 9 a.m. and then again at 2:30 p.m. today, Feb. 20, in 434-M. Two substantial education bills were on the agenda, both of which were discussed heavily. One of the bills was Senate Bill 1, a bill to increase access to the state’s community and technical schools.
Senate Bill 1 would create the Advanced Career Education (ACE) Program with the intention of fostering a connection between state high schools and community colleges, and it would also create the WV Invests Fund. The WV Invests Fund would fund the community college tuition of select WV students who qualify.
The House Education proposed a strike and insert amendment to the version of Senate Bill 1 at the beginning of the committee meeting that made several key changes to Senate Bill 1. These changes would include the requirement of the WV Chamber of Commerce to research and prepare a list of underserved industries in the state to ensure the proper programs are facilitated, and the addition of public baccalaureate institutions that offer associate programs.
The Chancellor of the Council for Community and Technical College Education, Sarah Tucker, was present to testify to the committee on behalf of Senate Bill 1.
“Students aren’t going to college because they’re scared of cost,” Tucker said. “These programs we put students through guarantee jobs. We start and stop programs based on workforce need.”
The delegates agreed that getting jobs for West Virginians in underserved industries was a necessity, but several were concerned with the implications the bill would have on four year schools.
After lengthy discussion, Senate Bill 1 was ultimately postponed. The House Education Committee will continue to consider the bill at their meeting tomorrow.
House Bill 3127 was also discussed at length on this day, and ultimately tabled for tomorrow as well.
House Bill 3127 would prohibit the denial of enrollment for home-schooled students to participate in secondary school extracurricular activities. Current statute allows home-schooled students to participate in curricular activities such as AP courses in high schools, but this bill would add the option for these students to participate in extracurricular activities as well.
The House Education Committee will continue their discussions of Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3127 at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Feb. 21, in 434-M.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Wednesday afternoon to discuss school bus safety bill.
Senate Bill 238 would increase the penalties for passing stopped school buses and provide for the installation of forward-facing cameras on new school buses to aid in enforcement of this section. The proposed legislation comes from an increase in drivers passing stopped school busses.
Fine increases for passing a stopped school bus would include:
The Committee adopted an amendment by Senator Rucker to add a preamble to honor Haven McCarthy who was killed while getting off a stopped school bus in Lincoln County in 2007.
Senate Bill 511 is closely related to the Nonintoxicating Beer Act that was passed by the Committee on Tuesday; except this bill relates to wine. It would revise certain wine code sections to permit wine alternating wine proprietorships as permitted under federal law, and clarify wine sampling procedures for wineries and farm wineries up to two fluid ounces at certain fairs and festivals along with wine bottle sales for off-premises consumption only.
Senate Bill 547 would encourage landowners to make land available for recreational purposes by limiting land owner liability. The bill would protect landowners who offer their land for recreational activities from being liable for injuries of people on their property.
All three bills were approved by the Committee, and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
Three Senate bills quickly passed through the Senate Finance Committee, 3 p.m. Tuesday
Committee Chair, Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, addressed the committee to state that the previous agenda had been shortened but assured members the committee would proficiently address legislation throughout the remainder of this week.
Following brief explanations from council, Senate Bills 539, 544 and 656 were unanimously voted to be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they each pass.
None of the bills contained a second reference.
Four originating bills came before the Senate Economic Development Committee, Wednesday.
Of the proposed legislation, two bills have been referred to the Senate following a double reference. The other two bills have been amended to into a study resolution.
Brief review of Originating Bills 1 through 4 followed a lengthy floor session. The proposed legislation intends to:
Originating Bill 1 would create the WV Motorsports Entertainment Complex Investment Act
Originating Bill 2 would create the WV Motorsports Committee
Originating Bill 3 would create the Local Unincorporated Municipality Board
Originating Bill 4 relates to Retail Sales and Use Tax; Absorption of Tax by Retailer
Following consideration of the bill, members motioned to report the bill to the full Senate following a double reference to the committee on finance.
The Senate convened Wednesday morning, and quickly addressed Governor Justice’s veto over Senate Bill 272.
The proposed legislation would update code relating to Commission on Special Investigations. In response to the veto, the Senate moved to amend the bill by striking everything before the enacting clause as to address the Governor’s concerns with the legislation. The Senate then passed the bill again, and will be reported to the House for further deliberation.
The Senate also passed 11 bill that were on third reading.
Senate Bill 360 would regulate third-party litigation financing. A litigation financing transaction is a non-recourse transaction in which financing by a third-party, who is unrelated to the case, is provided to a consumer in return for a consumer assigning to the litigation financier a contingent right to receive an amount of the potential proceeds of the consumer’s judgment, award, settlement, or verdict obtained with respect to the consumer’s legal claim.
Senate Bill 360 would add regulations to this type of business in West Virginia. The proposed regulations with this legislation would include:
Senate Bill 512 would add regulation to pawnbrokers. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the bill would require a pawnbroker to equip each of its locations with electronic monitoring and recording equipment. Video must be kept for 30 days. It also lists people from whom the pawnbroker may not purchase, accept in pawn, receive in trade or exchange for goods, such as minors or persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The Senate also passed the following bills:
The Senate is adjourned until tomorrow, Feb. 21 at 11 a.m.
The following committees will meet today:
Economic Development at 1:30 p.m. in 208W
Pensions at 2 p.m. in 451M
Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M
Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W
Gov. Org. at 4 p.m. in 208W
Banking at 5 p.m. in 451M
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
Transportation at 9 a.m. in 451M
Health at 1 p.m. in 451M
Education at 2 p.m. in 451M
Agriculture at 2 p.m. in 208W
The House of Delegates passed two bills and advanced 20 bills on second reading during Wednesday’s floor session.
The bills passed were both passed unanimously and with little discussion.
House Bill 2486 would remove barriers to employment for people with criminal records who seek licensure or certification in an occupation.
In explaining the bill, Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said the bill could be used to help West Virginians seek employment, providing that their criminal conviction is not directly relevant to the job that they are seeking licensure for, and that the criminal conviction is not sexual or violent in nature.
The House also passed House Bill 2975. This bill would update current statute to include employees and contract employees of a day report center to those prohibited from engaging in sexual acts with prisoners, those persons under their supervision.
Currently, correctional officers and guards are prohibited from engaging in sexual acts with prisoners or subordinates. This bill would just add day report center employees to that list.
Bills that were advanced without amendment include Senate Bill 270, Senate Bill 356, Senate Bill 358, Senate Bill 357, Senate Bill 452, House Bill 2515, House Bill 2667, House Bill 2855, House Bill 2856, House Bill 2886, House Bill 2907, House Bill 2924, House Bill 2929, House Bill 2954, House Bill 2982, House Bill 3007, House Bill 3039, House Bill 3083, and House Bill 3093.
House Bill 2933 was amended. The bill went under some technical changes that cleaned up the language as it referred to sentencing for repeat offenders.
All bills on first reading were advanced.
The House of Delegates is in recess until 6 p.m. today. The House will reconvene to hear reports from standing committees and remarks from members.
Committees Meeting Today:
-The House Committee on the Judiciary will meet at 1:30 today in 418-M to continue consideration of their posted agenda.
-The House Committee on Government Organization will meet at 2:00 today in 215-E to continue consideration of their posted agenda.
-The House Finance Committee will meet at 2:00 today in 460-M to continue consideration of their posted agenda.
-The House Education Committee will meet at 2:30 today in 434-M to continue consideration of their posted agenda.
Committees Meeting Before Floor Session Tomorrow:
-The House Education Committee will meet at 9 a.m. in 434-M.
-The House Government Organization Committee will meet at 9 a.m. in 215-E.
-The House Committee on Finance will meet at 9 a.m. in 460-M.
-The House Committee on the Judiciary will meet at 9 a.m. in 418-M.
-The House Committee on Health and Human Resources will meet at 2 p.m. in 215-E.
The House of Delegates reconvened at 6 p.m. for a brief floor session on Feb. 20 in the House chamber.
A vote was taken to dispense of the second reference to Judiciary for House Bill 2519, the campus carry bill. This vote passed.
The House of Delegates also read House Bill 2730, a bill to issue a 5% pay raise to certain state service personnel, such as police officers and teachers.
The House of Delegates is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow, February 21st, in the House chamber.
The first bill on the agenda for the committee was House Bill 2519, the Campus Self Defense Act.
This bill removes the restrictions of carrying a licensed concealed weapon on the public colleges and universities of West Virginia. It establishes that a person is permitted to carry a concealed pistol or revolver on campus within the parameters of specific school regulations, exemptions and specific restrictions.
Currently in the United States there are 21 states that either expressly allow colleges and universities to regulate firearms, or are silent on the matter, leaving gun regulation decisions up to the governing bodies of colleges and universities in the state. There are 16 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus. The bill will be reported to the House and referred to the Finance committee.
House Bill 2968 adds remote service unit to the definition of customer bank communications terminals. This bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2837 relates to the licensing of advance deposit wagering. This bill authorizes the licensing of advance deposit wagering in WV. It defines applicable terms. It provides for “source market fees” and sets forth the distribution of those derived from wagers of account holders.
It explicitly provides that advance deposit account wagers are authorized and provides exception form certain provisions of code barring gaming. It confers jurisdiction to the Racing Commission, provides for the assessment and imposition of licensing and annual renewal fees, requires applicants to bear certain costs and explicitly prohibits advance deposit wagering in West Virginia unless conducted through an advance deposit wagering licensee. It provides for criminal penalties for accepting advance deposit wagers without a license and gives the Racing Commission power to seek civil remedies and damages for violations. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2934 permits interactive wagering authorized as West Virginia Lottery interactive wagering activities. There was also a strike and insert amendment that the committee accepted. The purpose of the bill is to authorize interactive wagering in WV.
The bill authorizes the licensing of interactive wagering in WV. It must be done under the auspices of the currently licensed casinos. It goes on to define the terms used.
It details the specific duties and powers of the West Virginia Lottery Commission in oversight, with explicit provisions for rule-making authority and emergency rule-making authority, while requiring the Commission to levy and collect fees, surcharges, civil penalties, and weekly tax on adjusted gross interactive wagering receipts and deposit them into the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Fund. The bill will be reported to the House
House Bill 2617 relates to the form for making offer of optional uninsured and underinsured coverage by insurers. The purpose of this bill is to require the Insurance Commissioner to provide for the use of electronic means of delivery and electronic signing of the form for making an offer of optional uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage by insurers. Any signature executed in conformity with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act is enforceable. The bill will be reported to the House.
House Bill 2770 relates to the Fairness in Cost-Sharing Calculation Act. This bill seeks to create the Fairness in Cost-Sharing Act by establishing cost sharing calculations for health plans and pharmacy benefits. The bill will be reported to the House.
There was also an originating bill in the committee. This bill relates to criminal penalites for reckless driving. The bill increases the penalty for the existiing crime of reckless driving causing serious bodily injury. the new penalties are two to ten years and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000.
Second, the bill creates a felony for reckless driving causing death. that crime carries a penalty of 3 to 15 years and a fine of $1,000 to $3,000. the bill will be reported to the House.
The Energy Committee took up Senate Bill 163 today. This bill authorizes DEP promulgate legislative rules.
This contains eight bills relating to the Department of Environmental Protection. Two air quality rules are being repealed because of changed circumstances. These two rules are no longer necessary.
Five air rules are being updated to match federal requirements so DEP will continue as primary enforcement authority. The eighth rule is the Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards under the Clean Water Act. The bill will be reported to the House and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Minority Whip, Mike Caputo (D-Marion) District 50 made a motion to postpone any action on Senate Bill 451 indefinitely. Many passionate arguments were made on both sides of the aisle and the votes passed the Caputo’s motion resulting in the bills defeat.
Bills Passed on Third Reading:
· Senate Bill 377 relates to minimum wage and maximum hour standards.
· House Bill 2439 relates to fire service equipment and training funds for volunteer and part-volunteer fire companies.
· House Bill 2542 permits directors of county emergency phone systems to obtain mobile-phone emergency lines
· House Bill 2947 relates generally to telemedicine prescription practice requirements and exceptions.
· House Bill 2958 authorizes the state auditor to conduct regular financial examinations or audits of all volunteer fire companies.
House Bill 2486 was amended for clarification and advanced to third reading. All additional bills on second and first reading were advanced as well.
After recess the House reconvened and took up House Bills 2481, 2492, and Senate Bill 61 for consideration and passage.
House Bill 2481 permits retail sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays after 1 p.m.
House Bill 2492 relates to mandatory reporting procedures of use and neglect of adults and children.
Senate Bill 61 adds certain crimes for which prosecutors may apply for wiretap.
The House Committee on Finance convened at 3:30 on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in 460-M to continue taking up their posted agenda. House Finance had a consideration of three bills during this committee meeting, one of which being a bill to eliminate the state tax on soft drinks.
House Bill 2574 would eliminate the 1% sales tax on soft drinks in the state of West Virginia. Since 1951, sodas, juices, flavored waters, and other sugary drinks have come with an extra price in the state of West Virginia. The $14,700,000 generated by the soft drink tax goes directly to West Virginia University’s medical and health science facilities.
Rob Alsop, the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at West Virginia University, stressed the importance of the tax to the university.
“This money helps fund the education, training, and maintenance of our school,” Alsop said. “The removal of this tax would be devastating to the dental and nursing industry in West Virginia.”
Alsop stated that the majority of WVU students studying dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy stay in the state of WV and help their local communities.
“We’d have to make a cut of nearly $14 million to this institution,” Alsop said. “You’d be losing resources for this state’s doctors, nurses, and dentists.”
Many delegates voiced concern over the bill passing because of what it would do to WVU’s medical and health facilities, which see around 11,000 graduates practicing in-state.
“This tax is ultimately a good investment for health outcomes across the state,” Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said while speaking in opposition to the bill.
Other delegates were in support of the bill, arguing that the subsidization of WVU is unfair and unneeded.
Delegate Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, argued that if other successful state medical school programs can persist without state subsidization, WVU can too.
After a lengthy discussion, House Bill 2574 was defeated unanimously by the committee in favor of funding the state’s higher education system.
“We just cannot take $14 million out of state education,” Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha said.
The Finance Committee also advanced House Bill 2830. This bill would begin the process of implementing Next Generation 911 Services in the state of West Virginia. This technology would allow West Virginians to communicate with 911 operators through text message, photos, and videos. 46 other states have made moves to implement similar programs.
House Bill 2830 was advanced to the House floor unanimously.
House Bill 2828 was also unanimously passed by the House Finance Committee after little discussion. This bill would allow new West Virginia businesses to receive a tax exemption if they establish a business within a Qualified Opportunity Zone. These entrepreneurs would be eligible under certain standards to have all income derived from the opportunity zone business exempt from state taxable income for a ten-year period.
The House Finance Committee will convene at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Feb. 20, in 460-M.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary met Tuesday afternoon to discuss seven different bills that were on the agenda.
Senate Bill 529 would clarify provisions of the Nonintoxicating Beer Act by creating a temporary license for nonintoxicating beer floorplan extensions of existing licensee floorplans. Counsel also explained that in the Committee Substitute it would raise the ABV.
Senate Bill 415 would create the Timber Cotenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act and the Unknown and Unlocatable Timber Interest Owners Act. The bill permits the severance of timber by fewer than all the interest owners under certain conditions, and provides an exception to waste and trespass. The bill also states that nonconsenting cotenants may elect a severance royalty interest or a working interest share of severance.
Senate Bill 585 would define the term “stalking” and include it in with same penalties as harassment which states “as to cause emotional distress.”
House Bill 2740 would bar a parent from inheriting from a child if the parent’s parental rights were terminated by court order and the parent-child relationship had not been judicially reestablished. The bill would also permit 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 2747 would allow the County Commission to administratively close 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 would allow for the ancillary administration of the estate of nonresident decedents. The bill would permit a personal representative to file an affidavit to evidence the probate of a will in another jurisdiction.
The Committee also discussed Originating Bill 1 which would authorize current or senior status federal judges to preform marriages. The judges must reside in the state if they are to perform at weddings.
All of the bills were unanimously approved by the Committee, and will be reported to the full Senate to be voted upon.
A bill relating to the administration of ACT and SAT tests to the state’s 11th grade students came before Senate Education Tuesday.
Following consideration of Senate Bill 624 members motioned to report the proposed legislation to the full Senate with the recommendation that it shall pass. Associate State Superintendent of Schools, Clayton Burch, also came before the committee to answer questions concerning the bill.
Sen. Richard Plymale, D-Wayne, opened discussion by asking how the proposed legislation would impact the state’s implementation of the Students Succeed Act. Burch explained that in addition to providing another way to tests students, the bill would also give local county boards the ability to request for another test to be implemented in the district.
According to Burch, the ACT is currently the most common test among students in West Virginia but if the SAT were to be implemented in a district, the state could still extract vital data from either test scores. Looking to the future, Burch stated that the ultimate goal of the legislation is to create a way to better understand the types of classes that grade 11 students should take during their senior year.
Burch also mentioned that both the ACT and SAT had worked very closely with the state and has “jumped through many hoops” to help the counties.
Following discussion of the legislation, Sen. Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, closed debate by urging that the bill only allow for one test to be administered.
“I think this is a valuable tool but we should be comparing apples to apples,” Roberts said. “This may hinder out ability to compare results but I like the ability of this bill to raise the bar. I think that’s very important for us.”
Ultimately, the committee substitute which allows for either test was reported to the Senate.
Senate Bill 456 was moved to be laid over following a lengthy discussion in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.
The motion arose following committee chair, Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, expressing confusion over the legislation, which would authorize railroads and commercial watercrafts to claim refundable exemptions from the motor fuel excise tax.
“Right now I’m not satisfied with the testimonies of this committee and don’t want this bill to die,” the committee chair stated. “I would rather have more information before this bill moves any further.”
Before closing, Blair, who is lead sponsor of the bill, addressed representatives from the Tax Division and requested for more individuals to come before the committee and answer questions before the end of the week.
If passed, the bill would remove the exemption refund tax on fuel for railroads and commercial watercrafts, ultimately resulting in a $2.4 million loss for the State Road Fund, a $1.9 million additional exemption for railroads and a $1.5 million increase of commercial watercrafts exemptions.
Prior to the review of SB456, three other pieces of legislation were also reported to the full Senate.
Following the approval of minutes, members reviewed a bill relating to retirement and pension benefits of certain PERS and Teachers Retirement System members who serve in Legislature. If passed, Senate Bill 11 would make two changes on the state’s education retirement system and reduce reduce the amount of service credit a new member of the systems would get.
Currently the bill, which only effects new members, shows a fiscal savings of $1,000 for new members who join the two systems.
Senate Bill 86, which would require county boards to provide free feminine hygiene products in grades six to 12, and Senate Bill 383, which would create the WV Healthy Food Crop Block Grant Program, were quickly reviewed by committee members as well.
The House Health and Human Resources Committee considered three pieces of legislation Tuesday, one of which was a rules bundle.
Notated as Senate Bill 175 on the agenda, Bundle 5 includes nine bills pertinent to legislative rule-making within the Department of Health and Human Services.
The bundle includes:
· Senate Bill 168, relating to the regulation of behavioral health facilities
· Senate Bill 169, relating to the regulation of living facilities residencies
· Senate Bill 170, relating to statutory updates to food establishments
· Senate Bill 171, relating to regulation of food manufacturing facilities
· Senate Bill 172, adding requirements for newborn screenings
· Senate Bill 173, relating to medication assisted treatment
· Senate Bill 174, relating to pain management clinic licensure
· Senate Bill 175, relating to the drug control policy
· Senate Bill 176, relating to Health Care Authority and cooperative agreement approval
The Health and Human Resources Committee passed the bills within the bundle one by one unanimously.
Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 172 that would allow contraceptives to be distributed to those patients in need. The amendment passed unanimously.
Senate Bill 168, Senate Bill 169, Senate Bill 170, Senate Bill 171, Senate Bill 172, Senate Bill 173, Senate Bill 174, Senate Bill 175, and Senate Bill 176 were advanced to the House Judiciary Committee for second reference as a bundle.
House Bill 3132 was also considered on this day. This bill would provide that medical providers serving no more than 30 patients would not need to comply with certain legislative rules and only attest to services being provided. House Bill 3132 would also mandate that licensed behavioral health centers providing office-based medication-assisted treatment are exempt from the separate registration process for other office-based medication-assisted treatment programs, and instead only have to attest to their services.
Delegate Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell, spoke of the importance of House Bill 3132’s passage for rural West Virginia communities.
“We keep hearing from rural doctors that they simply cannot comply with all of the rules for drug treatment centers,” Rohrbach said. “This bill is an attempt to make it easier on these doctors so they can treat their people. They just want to take care of their people.”
House Bill 3132 was unanimously passed by the House Health and Human Resources Committee and advanced to the House floor with the recommendation that it should pass.
House Bill 2079 was also passed by the committee on this day.
House Bill 2079 would increase the maximum number of cannabis grower, processor and dispensary permits. The bill would also remove the requirements that licenses be limited in regions of the state.
The bill would increase the maximum number of state cannabis growers and processors from 10 to 50. It would increase the increase the maximum number of cannabis dispensers to 165 in the state.
After lengthy discussion concerning the merits of medicinal marijuana, the House Health and Human Resources Committee ultimately advanced House Bill 2079 to the House Judiciary Committee for a second reference.
The Senate Committee on Energy, Industry & Mining met Tuesday afternoon to continue discussion over Originating Bill 2 from last the meeting.
The proposed legislation would amend current West Virginia code to provide permitting fees for horizontal oil and gas well drilling in the state. Permit fees would go through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Proceeds from the fees would be cut in half; one half would go to additional staffing for permits at the DEP with a hard cap of $ one million, and the other half would go to funding for plugging orphan wells.
One of the presenters provided information about how the proposed bill would impact the state’s efforts in plugging orphan wells.
Currently, there are 4,000 plus orphan wells in West Virginia, and that number is expected to exceed 10,000 the next 30 years. It costs between $40,000 - $100,000 to plug just one well.
Funding from this bill could range from $2.7 to $4.7 million per year, which would provide enough funding to plug 40 – 70 wells per year. If this legislation becomes law, it would take anywhere between 67 -107 years to fill all of the orphan wells in West Virginia.
After questioning counsel and other speakers, the Committee voted to approve the originating bill. It will be reported to the full Senate to be voted on.
The House Finance Committee convened at 9 a.m. this Tuesday, February 19 in 460-M to consider legislation. The committee advanced four bills to the House floor by the end of this committee meeting, one of which being a bill to establish a Cybersecurity Office in the state of West Virginia.
House Bill 2452 would establish a cyber security framework within certain state agencies. This bill would allow the West Virginia Office of Technology to establish a Cybersecurity Office within their department to facilitate a software program to strengthen the cyber security checks within state agency devices. This bill would be applied to all state agencies except for institutions of higher education, the county board of education, the WV Legislature, and the WV Judiciary. Agencies would be subject to cyber security risk assessment, adherence to enterprise standards, and plans of action in the event of a cyber-attack.
Joshua Spence, the Chief Technology Officer for the West Virginia Office of Technology, was present to answer questions the committee had pertaining to the legislation.
Spence stated that House Bill 2452 would require an upfront cost of $4.2 million in order to hire consultants and purchase the necessary software, but the cost of the agencies addressing the threats to their devices must be absorbed by the agencies. The Cybersecurity Office would be required to report activity to the WV Legislature.
“The threat is here now,” Spence said. “We have the department; this just gives us more functionality.”
House Bill 2452 was unanimously passed by the House Finance Committee, and was advanced to the House floor with the recommendation that it should pass.
Another bill that was passed by the committee was a bill that would allow the WV Lottery Commission to create satellite locations for wagering. House Bill 2901 would allow a licensed racetrack to establish a secondary location for racetrack video lottery terminals and racetrack table games at a location within the county as approved by the lottery commission.
A concern that was raised within the committee was the lack of language in the bill that put restrictions on the Lottery Commission. There are no provisions included in House Bill 2901 that would limit the commission in terms of placing a satellite location near a school or a church.
Doug Buffington, Assistant Lottery Director of the WV Lottery Commission, addressed the concerns of several of these delegates.
“I believe that if this bill were to pass, the Commission would put these terminals in locations that would be best for everybody,” Buffington said. “We’d be sure to listen to the input of all stakeholders.”
After lengthy discussion, the House Finance Committee voted in affirmation for House Bill 2901. They voted to advance it to the House floor with the recommendation that it pass.
House Bill 2829 was also passed on this day, a bill that would terminate the state severance tax on the extraction of limestone and sandstone starting in 2021. The bill comes with a fiscal note of $1.2 million, but because of the Division of Highways being the largest purchaser of limestone and sandstone in the state, a lot of that cost would be directly funneled back into the state.
The bill was passed unanimously by the committee, and advanced to the House floor with the recommendation that it do pass.
House Bill 2807 was also advanced to the House floor this day. This bill would provide a reducing modification to the West Virginia adjusted gross income of a shareholder of a Subchapter S corporation engaged in banking business in WV.
The House Finance Committee is in recess until 3:30 p.m. today. They will meet in 460-M again to continue consideration of the posted agenda.
Legislation, which relates to the effects on levy rate when appraisal results in tax increase, was rejected by the Senate, 11 a.m. Feb. 19.
Following discussion of Senate Bill 618, the legislation was rejected as a result of a tie in voting. Of the six pieces of legislation that were brought before the body, 618 was the only bill to be rejected.
Senate Bills 19, 117, 147 and 617 were unanimously voted out of the body while Senate Bill 333, which would exempt automobiles 25 years or older from a citizen’s personal property taxes, narrowly passed following debate.
Of the 14 bills on second reading, Senate Bill 512, which would regulate pawnbrokers, and House Bill 2666, which would provide a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Veterans’ Assistance, received amendments while Senate Bill 635 and House Bill 2324 were laid over.
Members also designated Feb. 19, 2019 as Nurses Policy Day through the passage of Senate Resolution 51.
When reviewing unfinished business, Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, moved to report Senate Concurrent Resolution 38, which would urge support from CSX for the New River Train, to the Committee on Rules. According to the Senator, his intention to move the bill was to allow for the bill to be reviewed prior to a visit from CSX representatives later in the week.
The following committees will meet today:
The following committees will meet tomorrow:
The Judiciary Committee met today to discuss a bill relating to the Adult Drug Court Participation Fund.
House Bill 3057 updates the language of the Adult Drug Court Participation Fund and establishes how the money in the fund is to be used. Currently, expenditures from the Drug Court Participation Fund are not authorized from collections but are to be made in accordance with appropriation.
This was a strike and insert which the committee voted on to become the bill. The committee adopted the strike-and-insert and reported the bill to the floor.
The committee also took up House Bill 3018, which relates to the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency’s reimbursement of air-ambulance providers. The bill sets forth the amount that PEIA will reimburse air ambulance providers for the transportation of individuals covered by its plans. Currently, West Virginia code sets the reimbursement rates for air ambulance services at the Medicare rate. The committee advanced the bill to the House floor.
The committee also took up House Bill 2699, which relates to municipal annexation by minor boundary adjustment. Some delegates expressed confusion on the bill and asked many questions. The committee tabled the bill for these reasons.
The committee advanced House Bill 2540, which prohibits the waste of game animals, game birds or game fish. New code in the bill makes it unlawful for any person to cause through carelessness, neglect or otherwise to let any edible portion of any big game or game fish to go to waste needlessly. The bill also provides that it is unlawful for any person to take any big game and detach or remove from the carcass the head, hide, antlers, tusks, paws, claws, gallbladder, teeth, beards, or spurs only and leave the carcass to waste. The bill will be reported to the House.
The committee rejected House Bill 2646, which would provide a safe harbor for employers to correct underpayment or nonpayment of wages and benefits due to separated employees, this bill was rejected by the committee. After multiple amendments were made and delegates had expressed their concerns and stances the committee rejected the bill.