by REBECCA TURNBULL
The House of Delegates has been proving its hesitance to pass a historic bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state of West Virginia.
The bill, SB 386, was originally set to be referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee and then the House Judiciary Committee, until a motion was made last night during session to have both committee references dispensed with.
Delegate Michael Folk, R-Berkeley, made the motion for the bill to be immediately taken up for first reading instead of having the bill processed through both committees.
The motion passed 54-40 with six delegates absent.
Those who supported the motion said it was the only way for the bill to be given an actual chance for passage before the Regular Session’s deadline of midnight next Saturday.
Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, reminded his fellow delegates that by voting “no” on the motion, they would be subsequently be voting “no” for the passage of medical marijuana.
“We know it was double referenced to kill the bill,” McGeehan said. “If you vote green, you’re for ending some sort of prohibition. If you vote red, you’re not.”
Members of House leadership opposed the motion and said the committee references were necessary for ensuring the bill is properly evaluated for possible enaction.
Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said the delegates would need to be given the opportunity to speak with experts in medical and law enforcement fields about potential consequences the bill could hold.
Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, added that the bill could possibly be in conflict with federal law and would need to be analyzed further.
“There’s all kinds of issues that arise in this context,” Shott said.
However, Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, encouraged those in dissent to “have confidence” in decisions already made by the Senate committees who previously vetted the bill.
“This was made a priority by the Senate,” Miley said, “And I think it’s time that we now make this a priority for ourselves and the constituents that we represent.”
Lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, has been urging his fellow legislators across the hall in the House to override the “pushback” from House leadership and do their jobs in representing the “thousands and thousands” of people across the state who would significantly benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana.“I am hoping that those in the House will truly set politics aside and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,” Ojeda said.
As for efforts that were made in the Senate with passing the bill, Ojeda said he is impressed with how many senators eventually came together to accumulate the 28-6 vote in the Senate on Wednesday that allowed the bill to pass.
“For about six or seven weeks, there were ups and downs,” Ojeda said, “But I have been energized with what I have seen. There’s been real bipartisan support with this bill, and it gets something done for the people.”
Senators who voted against reporting the bill out of the Senate cited concerns related to how the bill relates to federal law, the lack of FDA approval for the medical use of marijuana and other liabilities or health risks that could be posed.
Those who rose in support of the bill said the countless proof of medical marijuana’s potential for both alleviating the physical and psychological suffering of countless citizens and bringing more population and economic growth into the state were reasons enough to vote “yes.”
Before reaching the Senate floor for a vote, the bill was approved 6-5 in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee and then 13-3 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Currently, 29 other states have enacted similar legislation to authorize medical marijuana, which has still not been federally legalized.
West Virginia’s pending bill, SB 386, was modeled after Maryland’s medical marijuana laws.
Members of the House are expected to begin proposing amendments to the bill as it moves toward second reading this weekend.
As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, March 31, 2017, the 52nd day of the regular session of the 83rd Legislature, 693 bills have been introduced in the West Virginia Senate. Of those bills, 79 have passed this week and have been sent to the House for further consideration. The Senate has also completed legislation on ten bills. Among those:
House Bill 2506 allows permit limits to be calculated using design flows recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Act for human health; specifically, the use of the harmonic mean flow. It would also allow for mixing zone overlapping while retaining the application of water quality criteria that are developed for protection of drinking water.
House Bill 2774 allows aircraft and aircraft parts to be taxed at the same rate as aircraft property.
House Bill 2811 clarifies that tanks having a capacity of 210 barrels or less that contain oil or brine water are not regulated under this bill.
House Bill 2001 modifies the ethics and purchasing laws to provide more transparency in government.
House Bill 2459 would clarify certain requirements of the Certificate of Need process.
House Bill 2486 would provide that when a party's health condition is at issue in a civil action, medical records and releases for medical information may be requested and required without court order.
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 the policies, requirements and interpretations of the Insurance Commissioner.
House Bill 2721 would remove the cost limitation on projects completed by the Division of Highways.
House Bill 2722 would eliminate the financial limitations on utilizing the design-build program for highway construction.
House Bill 3106 relates to increasing the number of limited video lottery terminals.
Senate Bill 38 would create a tax credit for new businesses locating on post-mine sites for the first five years after locating to the site.
Senate Bill 40 would require protocols for responding to after-school injuries or emergencies to be included in school crisis response plans.
Senate Bill 57 would continue providing a personal income tax adjustment to the gross income of certain retirees receiving pensions from defined pension plans that terminated and are being paid a reduced maximum benefit guarantee.
Senate Bill 60 would provide for eligibility and fraud requirements for public assistance by requiring the Department of Health and Human Resources to implement work requirements for applicants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Senate Bill 69 would create the sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights regarding medical forensic examinations, sexual assault evidence collection kits and other similar topics.
Senate Bill 74 would allow fire departments to charge fees for service calls.
Senate Bill 167 would allow law enforcement to obtain DNA samples, taken by buccal swab rather than drawing blood, from arrestees for certain criminal offenses. The bill also expands DNA sample collection to all those convicted of a felony offense.
Senate Bill 217 would increase the number of limited video lottery machines allowed at retail locations. The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.
Senate Bill 210 would provide for the fair distribution of costs for county development by authorizing the assessment and collection of fees to offset the cost of development, including industrial development, within affected counties.
Senate Bill 238 would increase the tax credits allowed for rehabilitation of certified historic structures.
Senate Bill 282 would direct the Office of Administrative Hearings to amend and promulgate a current legislative rule relating to its Appeal Procedures.
Senate Bill 286 would address factors to be considered in making a determination as to a grant of visitation to a grandparent.
Senate Bill 294 would create the Community Sustainability Investment Pilot Program as a matching grant program to foster the development of creative communities in West Virginia.
Senate Bill 316 would require individuals receiving unemployment compensation to seek out seasonal employment.
Senate Bill 333 would require certain licensed facilities to access the controlled substances monitoring database.
Senate Bill 343 would prohibit transportation network company drivers from soliciting rides or occupying designated cab stands and require such drivers to register annually with the local county commission at the commission’s discretion or face criminal penalties.
Senate Bill 369 would permit surface owners to purchase the mineral interests that lay below the property when the mineral interest becomes subject to a tax lien.
Senate Bill 376 would add persons who have been adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for conduct related to qualifying offenses to comply with the registration requirements of the Sex Offender Registration Act.
Senate Bill 380 would create a two-year pilot program permitting recreational vehicles on designated roads and trails in Cabwaylingo State Forest after purchase of special permits. The bill also provides for designation of campgrounds and tent sites to be used by the ATV and ORV users.
Senate Bill 386 would authorize medical cannabis in West Virginia.
Senate Bill 388 would identify additional persons who may possess firearms on school property in parking areas.
Senate Bill 399 would prohibit political subdivisions from enacting local ordinances regulating benefits employers provided to their employees.
Senate Bill 401 would permit a county board of education to base its employment decisions, transfers, reassignments, reductions in the number of professional personnel, reductions in classroom teaching positions and reductions in the workforce on an individual’s qualifications.
Senate Bill 402 would generally prohibit covenants not to compete between physicians and hospitals.
Senate Bill 406 would amend the way savings derived from the filling of generic drugs are distributed.
Senate Bill 409 would modify exemptions to the consumer sales and service tax and repeal the personal income tax.
Senate Bill 412 would provide that reporting certified payroll information for persons employed under the West Virginia Jobs Act is not required, but that other information as to persons employed may be submitted.
Senate Bill 428 would provide the conditions under which a pharmacist may partially fill a prescription, and the limitations on subsequently filling the remaining portion of that prescription.
Senate Bill 433 would permit counties to increase the excise tax on the privilege of transferring real property.
Senate Bill 437 would discontinue the West Virginia Racing Commission special account known as the West Virginia Greyhound Breeding Development Fund and transfer all moneys in the Fund to the state Excess Lottery Revenue Fund for appropriation by the Legislature.
Senate Bill 446 would authorize the Governor to issue executive orders to furlough state employees. It would give the Governor the authority to declare a fiscal emergency.
Senate Bill 453 would add the classification and base salaries of certain civilian employees of the WV State Police Forensic Laboratory.
Senate Bill 465 relates to medical professional liability and would require a medical malpractice claim against a physician to be signed by a different physician of the same field of study.
Senate Bill 469 would prohibit waste of game animals, birds or fish.
Senate Bill 477 would increase the State Road Fund by increasing Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) administrative fees and motor fuel excise taxes, including titling, registration, driver licensing, identification card issuance and abstract fees. Every five years, the DMV fees will increase based on the U.S. Department of Labor Consumer Price Index.
Senate Bill 482 would grant authority to the Parkways Authority to issue revenue bonds and refunding bonds for the purpose of financing parkway projects within the state constructed or improved by the Department of Transportation or the authority or refunding bonds issued in connection with any parkway project, as well as clarify notice and public meeting requirements and procedures for fixing or increasing tolls or fees.
Senate Bill 484 would eliminate the exemption from sales tax for certain sales of materials acquired for use in state highway projects, as well as increases the sales and service tax and use tax rates by one-half cent from 6% to 6.5% to help stabilize the state budget.
Senate Bill 493 would provide an increase in compensation for conservation officers.
Senate Bill 501 would create a Minority Economic Development Advisory Team to assist the Director of the Economic Development Authority in developing and implementing a procedure to address employment and economic development problems of minority populations of West Virginia.
Senate Bill 507 would permit pharmacists to inform customers about lower cost alternatives to prescribed drugs and limit the ability of pharmacists and pharmacy benefit managers to charge retail prices for drugs in excess of the price paid for the drugs by said pharmacists or pharmacy benefit managers.
Senate Bill 515 would modify the manner that notice of parole hearings and the release of parolees may be made.
Senate Bill 521 would authorize Public Defender Services to approve vouchers of attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants, create conflict public defender corporations, contract for legal services and require contemporaneous time records.
Senate Bill 526 would mandate insurance coverage for medical foods for amino acid-based formulas.
Senate Bill 534 would create incentives for local governments to consolidate in an effort to save money on local services.
Senate Bill 539 would make significant revisions to the law regulating election financing by modifying provisions relating to receipts and expenditures in elections, electioneering communications, reporting requirements and financial statements, among other modifications.
Senate Bill 562 would reform the liability of municipalities and county commissions for civil actions brought by reason of a slip and fall injury due to defect or disrepair of municipal or county owned property.
Senate Bill 563 would amend the requirements for contracts that allow for balloon payments, require proof of mailing of notices to debtors that consumers are represented by legal counsel and prohibit class action lawsuits under the Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
Senate Bill 566 would provide payment to certain claimants who provided commodities and/or services to the state, but who were not paid because the agency reached its budget limit.
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 578 would establish a new fee structure for the furnishment of health care records by allowing records to be furnished to a patient’s personal representative and establishing a limit on the total fee allowable for the furnishment of a patient’s health care record.
Senate Bill 586 would change the annual fees for custom slaughters, custom processors or distributors to triennial fees.
Senate Bill 588 would create a stable funding source for each county assessor to maintain and update paper and digital tax maps, promote the sale and distribution of the paper and digital tax maps for the benefit of the public and override any nonconformity between the language of the statute and the associated legislative rule.
Senate Bill 601 would adjust limits on consumer loans in West Virginia for which certain finance charges may be imposed.
Senate Bill 602 would create a uniform system of recording and indexing of fictitious names used by sole proprietors in this state.
Senate Bill 606 would exclude seasonal amusement park workers from the definition of “employee.”
Senate Bill 609 would generally create additional flexibility for school systems in the use of school aid funds.
Senate Bill 614 would provide loan insurance for commercial loans used for the expansion of broadband service to unserved or underserved areas.
Senate Bill 621 would provide that at any point after a county board of education provides written notice to the state board that it is considering or in the process of closing or consolidating a school or schools, any revision or supplementation to certain rules is not applicable to the school closing or consolidation project described in the county board's notification to the state board.
Senate Bill 622 would allow the Tax Commissioner or his designee to withdraw a lien or issue a certificate of release of lien upon certain determinations.
Senate Bill 628 would provide funding for the Statewide Interoperable Radio Network through additional court costs to be imposed in criminal cases.
Senate Bill 630 would establish the Accessibility and Equity in Public Education Enhancement Act to allow a county board or a multicounty consortium to create a virtual instruction program for one or more schools serving any composition of grades K-12 by adopting a policy creating the program and contracting with virtual school providers.
Senate Bill 631 would clarify the process by which municipal governments may abate unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous dilapidated structures that are detrimental to the public safety or welfare.
Senate Bill 634 would create an exemption for the Department of Health and Human Resources from having to go through the requirements of the Division of Purchasing when entering into agreements with West Virginia University or Marshall University for the provision of services, which will encourage collaboration and cost-saving between the Universities and Department of Health and Human Resources.
Senate Bill 636 would authorize the State Fire Commission to establish a pilot project program to address problems facing volunteer fire departments.
Senate Bill 637 would permit certain private club licensees that operate tourist destination and resort facilities to obtain one private resort license for the sale of alcoholic liquors throughout the licensed premises whether inside a building or outside in public view, and would further to permit 17-year-old patrons to enter the licensed premises unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian at private resorts, subject to certain conditions, and certain private clubs with designated nonalcohol areas.
Senate Bill 647 would repeal a section of the Code which imposes an additional county excise tax on the privilege of transferring real property for the purposes of funding farmland preservation, and replace the same by amending the Code to add a subsection which provides for an additional county excise tax on the privilege of transferring real property for the purposes of funding the county farmland preservation program and the operations, programs and activities of the local economic development corporation or authority.
Senate Bill 656 would create the Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act to allow ACT or the College Board to only receive payment or other consideration for certain information if they secure the affirmative written consent of the parent or student, given in response to clear and conspicuous notice, solely for providing the student access to employment, educational scholarships or financial aid and post-secondary educational opportunities.
Senate Bill 658 would establish a procedure whereby mobile and manufactured homes may be retitled provided certain conditions are met.
Senate Bill 664 would remove the current $200,000 limitation on the amount collected by the county via the hotel occupancy tax that may be used for medical care and emergency services.
Senate Bill 667 would limit the authority of the Attorney General to disclose certain information provided by the Tax Commissioner unless it is subject to a protective order or agreement restricting the use of the disclosed information to the proceeding, arbitration or litigation.
Senate Bill 671 would reestablish the West Virginia Anatomical Board.
Senate Bill 685 would create a one-day special license for charitable events to sell non-intoxicating beer.
Senate Bill 686 would exempt facilities providing direct patient care that are managed, directed, controlled and governed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources from the otherwise required oversight and review by the Purchasing Division of the Department of Administration, as well as require the Legislative Auditor to audit purchasing made by such facilities and report the findings to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
Senate Bill 687 would make several modifications to law generally relating to coal mining, coal mine safety and environmental protection.
Senate Bill 688 would correct technical errors in current law related to solid waste management.
Senate Bill 689 would create a small claim payment system within the Division of Highways to investigate and pay limited types of claims for damage to vehicles caused by road conditions.
Senate Bill 690 would authorize the Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police to charge fees for certain use of the facilities under his or her direction.
Senate Bill 691 would define "off-highway vehicle" and "off-road vehicle," as well as create a digital road map that may be searched by road and vehicle type.
Senate Bill 693 would create the West Virginia Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act to setting forth a procedure for disclosing digital assets and electronic communications after an individual has deceased.
As of 4:00 p.m., Friday, March 24, 2017, the 52nd day of the regular session of the 83rd Legislature, 1108 bills have been introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Of those, bills 103 have passed this week in the House and have been sent to the Senate for consideration. Among those:
Com. Sub. for S. B. 36 would allow school nurses to possess and administer opioid antagonists at school. The bill has passed in the House and the bill will be sent back to the Senate.
S. B. 41 would extend the total number of years that a person may be subject to a period of probation to seven years. The bill passed in the House and will be sent back to the Senate.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2195 would require county boards of education to implement comprehensive drug awareness and prevention programs for all student in grades K through 12. The bill is pending in Senate Education.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2363 would require that a state employee with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) have a yearly medical evaluation certification. The bill is pending in Senate Government Organization.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2428 would establish more substance abuse treatment services in the state. It would also create the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund. The bill is pending in Senate Health and Human Resources.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2708 would allow persons with developmental disabilities to receive a base hunting license after receiving an onsite training. The bill also would authorize person with developmental disabilities to lawfully hunt while accompanied and directly supervised by a licensed hunter. The bill has been sent to the Senate for more consideration.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 3080 would institute a “Celebrate Freedom Week” and require the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and other founding documents to be taught during the week. The bill is now pending in Senate Education.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2002 would modify the law requiring parental notification of abortion laws performed on minors, who are not emancipated.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2453 would expand the list of persons the Commissioner of Agriculture may license to grow or cultivate industrial hemp. The bill is pending in Senate Agriculture and Rural Development.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2520 would prohibit the use of tanning beds or other devices by minors (those under the age of 18). The bill is pending in Senate Health and Human Resources.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2711 would eliminate the Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA) and funding by July 1, 2017. It would eliminate the office of Education Performance Audits. It would establish the County Superintendents’ Advisory Council; it would also provide authority for county school systems to share services. The bill is pending in Senate Education
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2771 would provide for teaching certificates for teachers whose spouses are married to a member of the Armed Forces who is on active duty stationed in this state. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Education Committee.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2930 would allow a Powerball winner to be anonymous if they elect to be anonymous.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 3102 would permit the Secretary of DHHR to sell Hopemont Hospital and its assets. The bills would ensure the transfer of patients and the construction of a replacement facility. The bill is pending in Senate Health and Human Resources.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2763 would require the approval by the Council for Community and Technical College Education of acquisitions, bequests, donations, construction of new buildings, repairs, renovations or lease payments over the lifetime of the lease which exceed $1 million, if made or accepted by the institution’s research corporation or an affiliated foundation. The bill is pending in Senate Education.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2799 would prohibit the superintendent of schools from requiring a student appear before him or her for the minor to receive a work permit. This bill is to keep from students being removed from school in order to receive a permit. The bill is currently pending in Senate Education.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 2966 would create the West Virginia Sentencing Commission, as a standing sub-committee pf the Governor’s committee on crime, delinquency, and correction. The bill is currently pending in Senate Judiciary.
Com. Sub. for H. B. 3028 would create the Office of Drug Control Policy under the director of the Secretary of DHHR and require that office develop a strategic plan. The department would coordinate information, resources, programs, and funds. The bill puts in code public health and education initiatives and pilot programs to prevent and treat substance abuse. The bill would also transfer the responsibility for the Controlled Substance Monitoring Program to this office. This bill is currently pending in Senate Health and Human Resources.
Com. Sub. for S. B. 437 would discontinue the West Virginia Racing Commission special account known as the West Virginia Greyhound Breeding Development Fund and transfer all moneys in the West Virginia Greyhound Breeding Development Fund to the state Excess Lottery Revenue Fund for appropriation by the Legislature. Action was postponed on this bill one day. It is on third reading in the House.
H. B. 3088 would remove teacher-pupil ratio requirements for grade six classes, and require the West Virginia Board of Education to collect and report class size information and number of pupils per teacher for grade six classes to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability. The bill was rejected in the House. Com. Sub. for H. B. 2816 would eliminate the new film tax credits. It would also eliminate the exemption from consumer sales and service tax. It also would increase the rate of barrel tax on nonintoxicating beer. This bill was rejected by the House.