by NOAH GILLISPIE
On Tuesday March 14, 2017, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would eliminate the courtesy patrol.
House Bill 2007, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would terminate the courtesy patrol program, abolish The Courtesy Patrol Fund and take any balances remaining in The Courtesy Patrol Fund and transfer them to the State Road Fund. This would also prohibit the Parkways Authority from operating a courtesy patrol program in connection with any of its projects.
The fiscal note on the bill reports that the elimination of the courtesy patrol would add over $4 million into the state budget. As West Virginia is in a budget crisis, some legislators are willing to make difficult cuts to save money but others are wondering if the cuts to the services and job losses are worth it.
When discussion on the bill broke out on the floor of the House, many different points were brought to the delegates’ attention.
Delegate Hamrick (R-Harrison), one of the bill’s sponsors, said that roadside assistance is available with most insurance plans. He also noted that instead of calling the courtesy patrol, one could call the assistance provider directly.
Delegate Kelly (R-Wood), mentioned that he and his wife had gotten a flat on Interstate 79 and the relief that they felt when they saw the white truck with yellow lights would be worth funding the program, for the rest of West Virginia to have access to that same relief.
Delegate E. Evans (D-McDowell), Minority Vice Chair of the House Committee on Roads and Transportation, warned the House not to pass the legislation.
“This is job killing legislation and will put 90 people in the unemployment line, 12 of those in McDowell county,” said Delegate Evans. “This bill particularly bothers me because in an Amber Alert situation, these are the primary guys out there on the road. You also want to know that someone will be there to help out yourself or a loved one if a vehicle breaks down. The elimination of this program would have State Police doing that and I want them out doing law enforcement.”
The bill’s lead sponsor, Delegate Gearhart (R-Mercer) said, “The bill gets rid of a service outside of the role of state government and it takes a $5-million-dollar line item and uses the funds to help the state roads.”The bill passed the House with a vote of 58 yeas, 41 nays, and one absent and not voting.
The bill is making its way through the Senate and currently pending in the Senate Finance Committee.
As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, March 17, 2017, the 38th day of the regular session of the 83rd Legislature, 648 bills have been introduced in the West Virginia Senate. Of those bills, 31 have passed this week along with one bill from the House, all of which have been sent to the House for further consideration. The Senate has also completed legislation on six bills. Among those:
Senate Bill 330 would provide technical corrections to the definitions of the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act and repeal provisions relating to the statutory construction of the act.
House Bill 2318 would generally strengthen and establish criminal offenses relating to human trafficking.
House Bill 2542 provides more flexibility in human resources and personnel to institutions of higher education.
House Bill 2590 updates the meaning of "federal taxable income" and certain other terms used in the West Virginia Corporation Net Income Tax Act by bringing them into conformity with their meaning for Internal Revenue Code’s definitions. This bill is effective from passage. This bill was made effective from passage.
House Bill 2594 updates the meaning of "federal adjusted gross income" and certain other terms used in the West Virginia Personal Income Tax Act. This bill is effective from passage. This bill was made effective from passage.
House Bill 2678 would change the amounts of prejudgment and post-judgment interest in trials to reflect today's economic conditions.
Senate Bill 25 would establish a credit against personal and corporate income taxes for farmers who donate edible agricultural products to food banks and other nonprofit food programs serving needy persons.
Senate Bill 28 would create a new system for three or more contiguous counties to create a regional recreation authority for off- highway vehicle trail riding and for other recreational purposes.
Senate Bill 186 would adjust the date upon which children become eligible for certain school programs and school attendance requirements. The bill changes the kindergarten age attainment requirement from age five prior to September 1, to age five prior to July 1. The bill changes the early childhood education program age attainment date requirement from age four prior to September 1, to age four prior to July 1. The bill changes the age for which compulsory attendance begins to those who attain age six by July 1, of each year.
Senate Bill 187 would provide for confidentiality of medical records for patients’ physical, mental or emotional conditions.
Senate Bill 192 would exempt licensed surveyors from liability for defamation or slander of title when performing their professional duties, except in the case of malicious intent.
Senate Bill 212 would remove the Division of Motor Vehicles from the administration of license suspension and revocation in cases where an individual is charged with driving under the influence. Broadly, the bill transfers all decision-making concerning the suspension, revocation and/or reinstatement of an individual’s driver’s license to the courts. The courts then make determinations concerning a driver’s license in accordance with certain procedures, and all within the context of the criminal action.
Senate Bill 255 would reform the procedures for the appointment of county officials in the event of a vacancy by requiring that the appointee be of the former official's party affiliation upon resignation.
Senate Bill 256 would prohibit school personnel who have engaged in sexual misconduct with students or minors from being assisted to find new employment without having that misconduct reported to the appropriate authorities and investigated.
Senate Bill 299 would supplement, amend, decrease and increase items of appropriations from the State Road Fund to the Department of Highways.
Senate Bill 300 would supplement appropriations from unappropriated balance in the Treasury to the Division of Personnel.
Senate Bill 301 would supplement the appropriation of federal funds from the Treasury to the State Board of Education for the School Lunch Program.
Senate Bill 302 would supplement the appropriation of federal funds from the Treasury to the Division of Human Services.
Senate Bill 303 would supplement the appropriation of public moneys from the Treasury to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Senate Bill 305 would supplement the appropriation of public moneys from the Treasury to the Fire Commission.
Senate Bill 306 would supplement the appropriation of federal funds from the Treasury to Workforce West Virginia.
Senate Bill 326 would require department of defense family advocacy groups to be notified about any abuse or neglect of a child of a military person.
Senate Bill 344 would eliminate conflicting provisions within current code relating to the application of payments and the assessment of delinquency fees on consumer credit sales and consumer loans. The bill also permits a lender to hold a partial or nonconforming payment in suspense until such time as a full payment can be applied.
Senate Bill 364 would incorporate changes made to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.
Senate Bill 413 would limit the number of alternate proposals in bidding for government construction projects and set forth procedures for consideration of alternate bids.
Senate Bill 440 would specify where the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority may invest its excess funds.
Senate Bill 444 would establish a new special revenue fund to collect and remit moneys to the Court Advanced Technology Subscription Fund in the State Treasury for the use of certain advanced technology provided by the judiciary.
Senate Bill 454 would eliminate certain fees generated by suggestee executions and to further streamline the collection of state moneys received as a result of certain court transactions or court services through more efficient technology.
Senate Bill 455 would remove archaic language regarding commitment orders and to require that the sentencing court complete a certified commitment order in the form provided in this section or in a similar form containing the same information. This bill also clarifies that the sentencing court is required to transmit the certified commitment order to the Commissioner of the Division of Corrections.
Senate Bill 471 would make the definition of wildlife consistent with the existing definition of wildlife contained in WV Code §20-1-2.
Senate Bill 474 would exempt the list of names, addresses and contact information for hunting license holders from public disclosure with certain exceptions.
Senate Bill 495 would create greater efficiency in the operation of the West Virginia State Athletic Commission and to provide it the flexibility to respond to the needs of the fight industry. The bill updates and clarifies the sections of the code related to licenses of contestants and provides for a yearly fee for amateur contestants.
Senate Bill 497 would modify the liability of a physician offering volunteer care at school sporting events to provide that they may only be held liable for acts of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
Senate Bill 522 would define audit procedures between pharmacy benefits managers and pharmacies.
Senate Bill 531 would permit the annual renewal date for apiary certificates of registration to be June 30 beginning in 2018.
Senate Bill 536 would authorize the tracking of wounded or injured deer or bear with leashed dogs.
Senate Bill 575 would limit nuisance actions against shooting ranges for noises. The bill prohibits ordinances regulating to shooting ranges that are more stringent than such ordinances in effect at the time a shooting range was constructed or planned.
House Bill 2167 would add senior citizens to the Silver Alert program.
Senate Bill 31 would prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health care plans on or after January 1, 2018, with the exception for coverage when a mother’s life is in danger.
Senate Bill 32 would require that higher education course catalogs include certain information relating to employment rate, compensation, etc. to help students decide on an area of study, as well as create a voluntary college completion incentive program whereby an institution of higher education accepts less state funding in return for certain incentive bonuses relating to student graduation and employment of graduates. The bill would also create a tax credit for West Virginia resident students successfully completing certain courses of study.
Senate Bill 191 would remove the requirement that programs be jointly administered by labor and management trustees in order to qualify for tax credits for apprenticeship training in construction trades.
Senate Bill 289 would help level the playing field between local stores in West Virginia and online competitors by clarifying that the sales tax applies to digital goods.
Senate Bill 335 would repeal the personal income tax over the course of four years and replace it with a general consumption tax that broadens the consumer sales tax by an additional two percent and get rid of most sales tax exemptions.
Senate Bill 360 would create a legislative coalition to study and report to the Legislature on diabetes in the state.
Senate Bill 401 would permit a county board of education to base its employment decisions, transfers, reassignments, reductions in classroom teaching positions and reductions in the workforce on an individual’s qualifications, rather than on his or her seniority.
Senate Bill 457 would eliminate the Health Care Authority and Certificate of Need, as well as transfer the state Privacy Office to the Office of the Governor and transfer the West Virginia Health Information Network to the Office of Technology.
Senate Bill 462 would exempt all monetary benefits derived from military retirement from personal income tax obligations.
Senate Bill 539 would make significant revisions to the law regulating election financing to increase transparency in campaign contributions and reduce potential electoral corruption.
Senate Bill 546 would create an emergency text number system for children to escape violence and other emergencies.
Senate Bill 555 would dissolve the Public Employees Insurance Agency and convert it to an employer-owned mutual insurance company.
Senate Bill 561 would allow severely economically depressed counties to retain 50 percent of coal severance tax collected in those counties for economic development and education.
Senate Bill 576 would provide an exception to waste for certain oil and gas development and encourage the efficient and economic development of oil and gas resources by providing that a lawful use of mineral property that has been consented to by two thirds of the mineral interest owners is permissible, is not waste, and is not a trespass.
Senate Bill 582 would enhance coal mining safety and environmental protection by enacting several measures including the establishment of a Special Reclamation Water Trust Fund, the formation of a staff of mine rescue teams and the creation of new mine inspection requirements.
Senate Bill 607 would allow the use of larger horsepower boats on limited horsepower lakes under certain circumstances.
Senate Bill 610 would require all newly constructed, state assisted, detached single family houses, townhouses or multilevel dwelling units (whether detached or attached to other units or structures), or ground-floor units in a building of three or fewer dwelling units to meet minimum standards of universal design for persons with disabilities.
Senate Bill 620 would increase penalties for vehicles driving slow in the passing lane or for overtaking a vehicle or turning or making a lane change without giving a signal.
Senate Bill 627 would establish an 80 miles per hour speed limit on state highways.
Senate Bill 643 would create a preference for state citizens in construction contracts for public improvement projects.
As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, March 3, 2017, the 31st day of the regular session of the 83rd Legislature, 1101 bills have been introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Of those, bills 28 have passed this week and have been sent to the Senate for consideration. Among those:
House Bill 2318 was completed on March 16, after the House concurred with the Senate amendments. The bill relates to human trafficking and establishes criminal offenses and penalties.
Senate Bill 231 was completed on March 15. The bill provides that State Board of Education may delegate its Medicaid provider status and subsequent reimbursement to regional education service agencies or county boards subject to the county board determining that there is a net benefit and no detraction from the educational program of the county.
House Bill 2167 was completed on March 15. When the House concurred with Senate amendments. The bill creates a Silver Alert program for senior citizens. It establishes criteria to be met before an alert is released.
House Bill 2301 was completed on March 15. It permits individuals to enter into agreements, for direct primary care with an individual or other legal entity authorized to provide primary care services, outside of an insurance plan or outside of the Medicaid or Medicare program and pay for the care.
House Bill 2431 was completed on March 15. It allows influenza immunizations to be offered to patients and residents of specified facilities on a voluntary basis based upon recommendations of the Center for Disease Control.
Senate Bill 330 repeals provisions relating to the statutory construction of the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act. The bill passed the House and has been sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2373 would allow school bus drivers to administer the EpiPen when needed and makes them immune from liability unless there is gross negligence or willful misconduct. The bill passed the House and has been sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2427 would require agencies to provide updated employee information for the online state phone directory, and require that agencies update the information within thirty days of a change, or provide that information to the Office of Technology which shall update the online phone directory information within thirty days of receipt of information from an agency. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2446 would require the executive branch agencies to maintain a website that contains certain information. The bill has passed in the House and is currently in Senate Government Organization.
House Bill 2522 would allow the state to inter into an interstate licensure compact for registered nurses, practical nurses, and vocational nurses with 25 other states. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2601 would provide a mechanism of correcting errors in payments to and from a municipal policemen’s or firemen’s pension fund and to provide a criminal offense for knowingly making a false statement in an attempt to defraud a municipal pension fund. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2603 would allow municipal plans that are funded at 125% or more to stop paying certain costs while it is so funded. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2631 would prevent dismissal of complaints that exceed time standards for disposition when the accused causes delay that results in the time overage. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2649 would add additional violations of law, and removes exceptions for certain lesser included crimes, that could cause the forfeiture of a participant’s retirement plan. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2683 would update the West Virginia Guaranty Association Act. The bill provisions concerning effect of paid claims, exhaustion of coverage, prevention of insolvencies and stay of proceedings. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2792 would require the Library Commission to survey libraries in this state in order to provide a report to the Governor and the Legislature regarding the status of libraries and to propose a ten-year maintenance and construction plan based on the needs of libraries in this state. The bill passed in the House and has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2796 would allow the guard to contract for specialized technical services with the federal government, its instrumentalities and agencies, any state, territory or the District of Columbia and its agencies and instrumentalities, municipalities, foreign governments, public bodies, private corporations, partnerships, associations and individuals for specialized technical services to support specific activities related to national security, homeland security and other military-related programs. The bill passed the House and was sent to the senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2618 would remove the requirement that students’ body mass index be obtained in schools. The bill passed the House and is now in Senate Health and Human Resources for more consideration.
House Bill 2119 would repeal the West Virginia Health Benefit Exchange Act. It was passed in the House and sent to the Senate and is now in Senate Health and Human Resources Committee for further consideration.
House Bill 2518 would create a legislative rule to permit a pharmacist or pharmacy intern to administer certain immunizations. The House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate. It is now in Senate Health and Human Resources for further consideration.
House Bill 2546 would allow the replacement costs of employer provided property to be deducted from an employee's final paycheck if the property is not returned. This bill was sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2555 would remove the requirement that programs be jointly administered by labor and management trustees in order to qualify for tax credits for apprenticeship training in construction trades. The bill was sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2586 would update the required minimum distribution laws to be in compliance with federal Internal Revenue Code requirements. The bills will be reviewed by the Senate.
House Bill 2676 would authorize the Director of Security and security officers who are employed by the Division of Culture and History to carry a firearm or concealed weapon upon the West Virginia State Capitol Complex and state property for the security and protection of visitors and employees of the Division of Culture and History. The bill was sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2694 would develop and implement a program to facilitate commercial sponsorship of rest areas, welcome centers, and roads. The contracts would be negotiated by the Department of Highways. The bill was sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2739 would provide that an eligible provider may receive supplemental Medicaid reimbursement, in addition to the rate of payment that the provider would otherwise receive, for Medicaid ground emergency medical transportation services and that the supplemental reimbursement shall be equal to the amount of federal financial participation the department receives as a result of claims submitted for expenditures for services. The bills will now go to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2766 would establish a new special revenue fund to collect and remit moneys to the Adult Drug Court Participation Fee Fund in the state to maintain and administer the state’s adult drug court programs. The bill was sent to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 2811 would clarify that tanks having a capacity of 210 barrels or less that contain oil or brine water are not regulated. The bill was sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2839 would update the schedules for legislative review of state departments and regulatory boards, and to outline the procedures and scope of reviews of departments, regulatory boards, agencies and programs. The bill was sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2852 would require the preparation of a comprehensive annual financial report, heads of spending units to prepare financial statements, and notice be given to the spending units. The bill will be sent to the Senate for more consideration.
House Bill 2868 would clarify that presumed abandoned property in the form of amounts owed by an insurer on a life or endowment insurance policy or an annuity that has matured or terminated, and obligations related thereto, are guided by policies, requirements and interpretations of the Insurance Commissioner. The bill was sent to the Senate for further consideration.