Senate Bill No. 469
(By Senators Miller, Yost, Wells, Carmichael, Snyder, Nohe, Williams, Jenkins, D. Hall, Edgell, Stollings, Laird and Sypolt)
[Originating in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development; reported February 11, 2014.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-1-11, relating to the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program; granting the Department of Agriculture the authority to integrate veterans into the field of agriculture; creating the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture special revenue account and fund; exempting the Department of Agriculture from certain purchasing requirements; requiring state departments to work together; and permitting rulemaking.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-1-11, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
§19-1-11. Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program and fund.
(a) Legislative findings. --
West Virginians have a longstanding tradition of service in the armed forces of the United States. Many veterans suffer from physical and emotional afflictions and are often unable to find gainful employment upon returning from combat. Exploring opportunities to engage West Virginia's veterans in agriculture is beneficial to the health and welfare of veterans, as well as to the future of West Virginia's agricultural economy.
(b) Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program. --
The Department of Agriculture shall develop a Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program to integrate veterans into the field of agriculture, and support veterans currently working in agriculture. These programs may include, but are not limited to, using post-mine land for agricultural development, promoting high tunnel crops and production, expanding the apiary industry, developing cottage industries, exploring niche crops, raising more livestock, increasing the aquaculture industry and helping veterans promote their agricultural products through farmers markets and cooperatives. The department, Department of Veterans’ Assistance and the state's Adjutant General shall work together to recruit and train eligible veterans, and develop and support the program.
(c) Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Fund. --
There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue account designated the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Fund. The fund shall consist of income from leasing the department’s property for the program, income from the department’s farm account not utilized for farm operations, private or charitable donations, legislative appropriations to maintain and operate the programs and accrued interest. Expenditures from the fund shall be used exclusively, in accordance with appropriations by the Legislature, to pay costs, fees and expenses necessary to administer the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program. Any balance remaining in the special revenue account at the end of any state fiscal year shall not revert to the General Revenue Fund but shall remain in the special revenue account and shall be used solely in a manner consistent with this section.
(d) Notwithstanding any provision in this code to the contrary, should the Department of Agriculture deem it necessary to provide land for activities within this program, it is exempt from the purchasing requirements as they relate to the competitive leasing of state property.
(e) The commissioner may propose emergency or legislative rules for approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate the provisions of this section.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to grant the Department of Agriculture the authority to create and maintain a program to encourage, support and develop West Virginia veterans into the field of agriculture. The bill creates the Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Fund. The bill makes findings and establishes intent. The bill exempts the Department of Agriculture from certain competitive bidding requirements. The bill requires state departments to work together. The bill sets forth funding requirements. The bill sets forth disbursements.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.)