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Volume XXVI, Issue 4 - February 20, 2015


Public Hearings Provide Citizens a Voice in the Process

West Virginians Express Opinions on Legislation in order to Make a Difference

This year, public hearings have been at an all-time high compared previous legislative sessions. A public hearing gives the citizens an opportunity to learn, and even possibly speak to, a bill that is being considered for passage and eventually become law.

Earlier in the session joint public hearings were held on “same as bills” that have been introduced in both chambers on the issues of public charter schools (SB 14/HB 2014) and medical professional liability (SB 6/ HB 2006). These public hearings allowed the public and stakeholders the opportunity to better understand these bills and to even voice their opinions. These hearings can also provide lawmakers with a new perspective.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) said, “This session a lot more issues are being addressed and advanced, which has led to an influx of public hearings here in the Legislature. With public hearings the public is granted the opportunity to voice their concerns in a more personal fashion and it gives them a sense of certainty that their legislators are listening.”

This week alone, six public hearings were held by various House committees on a number of topics. House Majority Leader Delegate Daryl Cowles (R-Morgan) said “Public hearings have long been a part of the process in the House for bills of heightened importance. This year we have had a great deal of input from citizens through the public hearing process. It is important to gather citizen input and this year we are considering numerous important bills to improve our state government- listening intently to the citizens.”

House Judiciary held a public hearing on House Bill 2289 which relates to the requirements governing water quality standards in the state. The bill still sits in the Judiciary committee.

House Government Organization held a public hearing earlier this week regarding House Bill 2208, relating to local smoking restrictions. This bill would ensure that only government officials elected by voters to serve on a county commission would have the power to regulate smoking. It would also create a process by which local boards of health may make formal recommendations for smoking ordinances to county commissions.

The public hearing regarding drug testing for recipients of federal and state assistance stirred up a lot of interest this week. House Bill 2021 would implement drug testing for all recipients of certain public assistance from state or federal sources.

Prevailing wage has been a focal point for discussion in the Legislature the past couple of weeks and a public hearing on Thursday addressed it. As introduced, Senate Bill 361 would have eliminate the prevailing hourly wage requirement for construction of public projects. Lawmakers in the Senate reached a compromise to not repeal the prevailing wage law but to allow the prevailing wage to be calculated by WorkForce West Virginia with guidance from economists at West Virginia University and Marshall University. 

During a 60-day Regular Session where nearly 2,000 bills get introduced each year, it is important to get as much input into the issues before them as possible.  Public hearings are another way for lawmakers to solicit information and involve their constituency, making the process more transparent and closer to the people.

 

Completed Legislation

Senate Bill 7 requires instruction of CPR and conscious choking first aid in public school health education. This bill would require a minimum of thirty minutes instruction prior to graduation, including instruction in psychomotor skills. The education must be based on programs established by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or other recognized guidelines. It encourages members of the community to provide training and instructional resources.

Senate Bill 237 regulates captive cervid (deer) farming as an enterprise in the state and allows the sale of venison in the state. It states the powers and duties of the Department of Agriculture and commissioner and creates the application process and classes of licenses.

Senate Bill 335 allows accessibility and administration of opioid antagonists in overdose situations. It allows licensed health care providers to prescribe the antagonists to initial responders and certain individuals, permitting them to posses the antagonists and provides limited liabilities for those who prescribe and possess the drug.



Senate Bills Passed

Senate Bill 42 relates to the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays prior to 1 p.m. The bill would amend current code regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages and allow restaurants, private clubs and wineries to sell alcohol beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. It would also allow licensed manufacturers such as licensed wineries, farm wineries, distilleries, and mini distilleries to make retail sales of wine and alcoholic liquors to be sold and sampled beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Senate Bill 277 would create “Noah’s Law,” which would provide a birth certificate for a stillborn child. The bill would allow only the mother to request the certificate in certain circumstances and it would allow the State Registrar to charge a fee for the certificate.

Senate Bill 286 relates to compulsory immunizations of students and their exemptions. The bill requires that any child entering school or a state-regulated child care facility must be immunized against chickenpox, hepatitis-b, measles, meningitis, mumps, diphtheria, polio, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough. In a case where there is a specific precaution existing regarding a particular vaccine or the child has a physical condition where the issuance of a vaccine is not advisable, an exemption may be made.

Senate Bill 429 would create a new code section to allow one-day special charitable event licenses to sell non-intoxicating beer. It would also add a $25 prorated fee to cover costs of licensing and inspection, as well as add the fee to charitable wine licenses that already exist in current W. Va. Code.

Senate Bill 378 would allow electrician’s licenses to be renewed without having to go through retesting. The license can be renewed so long as the earlier license was not revoked and the electrician has paid the renewal fee for each year lapsed.

Senate Bill 350 would establish criminal penalties for assault or battery on utility workers. This bill amends current code that establishes criminal penalties for assault or battery on government, health care, or emergency service workers and adds utility workers to that list. A Utility worker includes individuals who are employed on interstate pipelines.

Senate Bill 30 relates to permitting the shared animal ownership agreement to consume raw milk. With this bill, those who share animal ownership can consume the raw milk of the animal, but requires a written document acknowledging that the consumer understands the inherent dangers of consuming raw milk. A physician must also report any disease related to consumption of raw milk to local health departments. This bill, however, does not allow the distribution of raw milk.

Senate Bill 316 defines veteran-owned business and exempts those businesses from certain fees paid to the Secretary of State. This bill would also exempt veteran-owned businesses from paying annual report fees for the first four years after their initial registration.

Senate Bill 334 relates to the practice of medicine, osteopathy, and advance practice registered nursing. This bill rewrites licensing requirements for practice the practice of medicine, surgery, and podiatry, makes exceptions, and establishes criminal penalties for unauthorized medical practice.



House Bills Passed

House Bill 2157 concerns absentee voter ballots. It makes the crime of committing fraud on voter ballots into a felony. Any person who obtains, removes, or disseminates an absentee voter’s ballot, intimidates an absent voter, or completes or alters an absentee voters ballot will be held guilty of the crime. Penalties include a jail sentence of 1 to 5 years, a fine of $10,000 to $20,000, or a combination of those two.

House Bill 2212 would change the amount of severance tax annually dedicated to the West Virginia Infrastructure General Obligation Debt Service Fund. The amount of tax will be reduced from $23 million to $22.5 million. This fund is used to pay the general debt of the infrastructure spending in the state.

House Bill 2387 will attempt to bring about a comprehensive change in leadership standards in the schools of West Virginia. The process will involves broad stakeholder input under the State Board of Education to the Legislature and Governor. The bill lays out qualities desired by leadership of schools such as developing shared values between leadership and staff, high expectations, and shared responsibility for the results of students. Areas for recommendation include roles and responsibilities of principals, support and tools needed, pipeline for leadership development, and support systems and flexibility among other items.

House Bill 2606 clarifies language regarding the potential sentence for disorderly conduct. The bill changes the phrase of “committed to the custody of the Division of Corrections” to “confined in jail”. This aims to make clear that those sentenced of disorderly conduct are placed in a jail cell and may not be placed elsewhere.

House Bill 2391 authorizes the state board to annually grant a waiver to a county board to implement a full day early education childhood program that has four days instead of five days. This would allow the fifth day to then be used for staff to work on program delivery to improve student learning. The request for a waiver must have the support of a majority of the participating families. The current statute requires the programs to be available full day, five days per week. The bill also imposes minimum instructional hours per week and minimum instructional days per year.

House Bill 2527, also known as “Erin Merryn’s Law”, would establish a Task Force on the Sexual Abuse of Children. The bill designates who will become a member of the task force as well as lays out a process for the selection of presiding members. It also lays out the duties of the task force which include gathering information on sexual abuse of children, creating state and county goals for prevention of abuse, and making recommendations to the state and county governments for implementation of the goals. The bill also requires the task force to consult with appropriate government agencies when appropriate to gather information on implementation of goals.

House Bill 2098 would authorize health care professionals providing services to federal veteran’s affairs facilities in the state without having to obtain a license from the state licensing board. Those who already have the ability to practice in federal facilities would be able to practice at the state’s veteran’s affairs facilities without having to obtain a different license. The bill aims to allow swifter care and cut down bureaucracy.

House Bill 2100 creates the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act. This would allow hospital patients to designate a lay caregiver to provide aftercare assistance in the patient’s residence. The bill aims to give more patient choice in their aftercare providers by helping them select workers they are more familiar with and caregivers that know their patients’ medical situation.

House Bill 2535 relates to suicide prevention training. The bill aims to expand the number of people who are trained in suicide prevention in order to maximize the possibility that at risk children and adults can be saved. The bill will mandate that school care personnel from the middle school to college level are trained in suicide prevention and provide that literature on the subject is handed out to children and young adults. It will also provide that discussion about preventing suicide occurs and that mental health information is readily available. All licensed medical professionals will be required to obtain suicide prevention training as part of their training.

House Bill 2586 will allow for an alternative form of service of process in actions against nonresident persons by petitioners seeking domestic violence or personal safety relief. The bill provides the process of legal action that can be undertaken. It allows nonresidents to be forced to appear in court among other functions. It also provides definitions for nonresidents and duly authorized agents.

House Bill 2607 clarifies the penalties of those who violate or interfere with the communications of emergency services. It notes that those who are penalized can both be fined and jailed for the crime. It does this for each number of repeat offenses as well.

House Bill 2646 would legalize and regulate the sale of Class 3 fireworks. This would allow these type of fireworks to be commercially bought and sold with regulations administered to the purchases of these fireworks. The bill also creates a West Virginia Veterans Program Fund and imposes a special fee on the sale of these fireworks. The money collected from the fee will be used as proceeds for the Veterans Program.

House Bill 2702 would redefine the service personnel class titles of early childhood classroom assistant teachers to smooth the transition of former early childhood aides to this new classification of school service personnel. The changes include protections from reduction in force or transfer for these aides eligible for full retirement benefits before July 1, 2020 to create vacancy for less senior early childhood classroom assistant teacher; requiring an aide who becomes employed as early childhood classroom assistant teacher to hold certain multi-classification status; and including early childhood assistant classroom assistant teacher in same classification category as aides.

House Bill 2492 would repeal the requirement that an entity charging admission to view certain closed circuit telecast or subscription television events needs to obtain a permit from the State Athletic Commission and report certain information. The bill would make it easier and less costly for these broadcasters to show events that they are already legally allowed to broadcast.

House Bill 2726 would clarify choice of laws issues in product's liability actions. It changes the products from just being pharmaceutical drugs to being all products. The intent is to prevent nonresidents from using West Virginia court systems as a favorable system to issue liability law suits.

Public Hearing
A Packed House
On February 19th, the House Government Organization Committee held a public hearing on SB 361.
PHOTO: Perry Bennett
Wrap-up, 2017 Edition:
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 7 (04/01/17) - Web Version
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 6 (03/27/17) - Web Version
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 5 (03/17/17) - Web Version
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 4 (03/10/17) - Web Version
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 3 (03/06/17) - Web Version
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 2 (02/24/17) - Web Version
Vol. XXVIII, Issue 1 (02/17/17) - Web Version

Wrap-up, 2016 Edition:
Vol. XXVII, Issue 6 (03/07/16) - Web Version
Vol. XXVII, Issue 5 (03/03/16) - Web Version
Vol. XXVII, Issue 4 (02/23/16) - Web Version
Vol. XXVII, Issue 3 (02/12/16) - Web Version
Vol. XXVII, Issue 2 (02/05/16) - Web Version
Vol. XXVII, Issue 1 (01/29/16) - Web Version

Wrap-up, 2015 Edition:
Vol. XXVI, Final Issue (June 2015) - Web Version
Vol. XXVI, Issue 6 (03/06/15) - Web Version
Vol. XXVI, Issue 5 (02/27/15) - Web Version
Vol. XXVI, Issue 4 (02/20/15) - Web Version
Vol. XXVI, Issue 3 (02/13/15) - Web Version
Vol. XXVI, Issue 2 (02/06/15) - Web Version
Vol. XXVI, Issue 1 (01/28/15) - Web Version

Wrap-up, 2014 Edition:
Vol. XXV, Issue 9 (03/19/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 8 (03/07/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 7 (02/28/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 6 (02/21/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 5 (02/14/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 4 (02/07/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 3 (01/31/14) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXV, Issue 2 (01/24/14) - Download  |  Web Version
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Wrap-up, 2013 Edition:
Vol. XXIV, Final Issue (07/25/13) - Download
Vol. XXIV, Issue 8 (04/19/13) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXIV, Issue 7 (04/12/13) - Download  |  Web Version
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Wrap-up, 2012 Edition:
Vol. XXIII, Final Issue (04/24/12) - Download
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Wrap-up, 2011 Edition:
Vol. XXII, Redistricting Issue (09/13/11) - Download
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Wrap-up, 2010 Edition:
Vol. XXI, Final Issue (04/07/10) - Download
Vol. XXI, Issue 8 (03/10/10) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXI, Issue 7 (03/03/10) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXI, Issue 6 (02/24/10) - Download  |  Web Version
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Vol. XXI, Issue 2 (01/27/10) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XXI, Issue 1 (01/20/10) - Download  |  Web Version

Wrap-up, 2009 Editions:
Vol. XX, Final Issue Addendum (06/11/09) - Download
Vol. XX, Final Issue (05/18/09) - Download
Vol. XX, Issue 8 (04/08/09) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XX, Issue 7 (04/01/09) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XX, Issue 6 (03/25/09) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XX, Issue 5 (03/18/09) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XX, Issue 4 (03/11/09) - Download  |  Web Version
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Vol. XX, Issue 2 (02/25/09) - Download  |  Web Version
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Wrap-up, 2008 Editions:
Vol. XIX, Final Issue (04/14/08) - Download
Vol. XIX, Issue 8 (03/05/08) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XIX, Issue 7 (02/27/08) - Download  |  Web Version
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Wrap-up, 2007 Editions:
Vol. XVIII, Final Issue (04/16/07) - Download
Vol. XVIII, Issue 8 (03/07/07) - Download  |  Web Version
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Wrap-up, 2006 Editions:
Vol. XVII, Final Issue (05/18/06) - Download
Vol. XVII, Issue 8 (03/08/06) - Download  |  Web Version
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Vol. XVII, Issue 1 (01/18/06) - Download  |  Web Version

Wrap-up, 2005 Editions:
Vol. XVI, 4th Special (09/30/05) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XVI, Final (05/17/05) - Download
Vol. XVI, Issue 9 (04/21/05) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XVI, Issue 8 (04/07/05) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XVI, Issue 7 (03/31/05) - Download  |  Web Version
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Vol. XVI, Issue 1 (02/17/05) - Download  |  Web Version
Vol. XVI, Special (02/03/05) - Download

Download Wrap-up, 2004 Editions:
Vol. XV, Final - 05/04
Vol. XV, Issue 8 - 03/10/04
Vol. XV, Issue 7 - 03/03/04
Vol. XV, Issue 6 - 02/25/04
Vol. XV, Issue 5 - 02/18/04
Vol. XV, Issue 4 - 02/11/04
Vol. XV, Issue 3 - 02/04/04
Vol. XV, Issue 2 - 01/28/04
Vol. XV, Issue 1 - 01/21/04

Download Wrap-up, 2003 Editions:
Vol. XIV, Final - 03/17/03
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Vol. XIV, Issue 7 - 02/26/03
Vol. XIV, Issue 6 - 02/19/03
Vol. XIV, Issue 5 - 02/12/03
Vol. XIV, Issue 4 - 02/05/03
Vol. XIV, Issue 3 - 01/29/03
Vol. XIV, Issue 2 - 01/22/03
Vol. XIV, Issue 1 - 01/16/03
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