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Today in the Legislature

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 02:50 PM

Select Committee on Tax Reform Meets to Discuss Upcoming Bill 335

Today the Select Committee on Tax Reform met and listened to two presenters give their advice on the upcoming SB 335.

Ted Boettner spoke about the dangers of eliminating the income tax. He said replacing the income tax with a consumption tax would hurt spenders with lower incomes. He went on to discuss Kansas and what has happened to them economically since they underwent a similar tax reform. Senator Ferns (R-Ohio) brought up that there were many factors to Kansas' economic state and that it can’t all be contributed to their tax reform.

 

John Deskins, Ph.D. spoke to the committee on the three principles of taxes. He said that taxes should be simple, efficient, and fair and that an elimination of the income tax and replacement with a consumption tax may help to promote those principles. He also brought up that there are currently no taxes on services and there isn't a reason why besides that it is difficult.

 

 



Friday, February 17, 2017 - 12:26 PM

Erin's Law Heads to Senate

Today, in the House of Delegates HB 2099, Erin's Law, was passed. It will now go to the Senate for further discussion. 

HB 2099 defines the act of leaving the scene of an accidet involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony and establishes the act of leaving the scene of a creash tht does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor; it also defines bodily injury and seious bodily injury. 

HB 2303 and HB 2319 were both on 2nd readings today. 

HB 2303 would increase the fines and community service hours for littering. 

HB 2319 would require members of the Legislature to disclose contributions and fund-raising events while the Legislature is in session. 

HB 2529 would add "sexual orientation" to the categories covered by the Human Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination in employment and place of public accommodation. The bill adds "age" and "sexual orientation" to the categories covered by the Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination in housing. 

Committee Meetings Today

Judiciary: continuing at 12:30 p.m. in 434M

Committee Meetings Monday

Ag. and Nat. Res.: 8:30 a.m. in 215E

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 410M

Sub-Committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior: 9 a.m. in 215E

Roads and Transportation: 1 p.m. in 215E

Gov. Org.: 2 p.m. in 215E

Education: 2 p.m. in 434M

Finance: 2 p.m. for a Supreme Court Hearing; 3 p.m. Hearing from Department of Veteran Affairs in 406M

 



Friday, February 17, 2017 - 12:15 PM

Four Bills Pass in the Senate Today

The Senate met today and passed four bills that were on third reading on to the House. These bills were SB 127, SB 174, SB 230, and SB 233.

Senate Bill 127 would authorize the Department of Revenue to promulgate legislative rules.

Senate Bill 174 would exempt the transportation of household goods from PSC jurisdiction.

Senate Bill 230 would relate to West Virginia officials carrying concealed firearms nationwide.

Senate Bill 233 would exclude from protection oral communication uttered in child care centers under the Wiretapping and Electronic acts.

Bills on second reading today were SB 116, SB 172, SB 215, SB 247, and SB 248. These bills were all moved to third reading.

Senate Bills 340-349 were introduced today.

The following committees will meet today:

Tax Reform at 1 p.m. in 451M.

The subcommittee of Transportation and Infrastructure will meet Monday at 10:30 a.m. in 208W.

 

The senate is adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 04:33 PM

House Committee on Health and Human Resources Reports Seven Bills

The House of Delegates’ Committee on Health and Human Resources met today and reported seven bills with the recommendation that they pass. These bills were HB 2264, HB 2265, HB 2266, HB 2359, HB 2360, HB 2423, and HB 2431.

House Bill 2264 would relate to the West Virginia Board of Licensing and Disciplinary Procedures for physicians and podiatrists authorizing background checks, was amended and referred to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2265 which would requires physicians assistants to obtain background checks, was amended and passed on to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2266 would require licensed practitioners to register with the board of medication for distribution of controlled substances. It was amended to be a sunset law that lasts five years and was referred to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2359 would align penalties of practicing osteopathic medicine without a license with the board of medicine's penalties. It was passed to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2360 would exempt DHHR from a bidding process for finding care companies. This bill was passed to the committee on Government Organization but only with a vote of 14 yeas and 9 nays.

House Bill 2423 would ban MPs and DOs from sexual conduct with patients. The bill was passed to the committee on Judiciary.

House Bill 2431 would have flu shots be required to be offered to hospital patients upon discharge and those in nursing homes. The bill was passed to the House floor.

House Bill 2366 was also discussed in detail. The bill relates to the selling of certain state owned health facilities by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources. It however was laid over to the next meeting.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 04:31 PM

Senate Education Approves SB 242, Postpones Decision on SB 18

The Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that would modify primary and secondary school terms.

The bill, SB 242, requires that the instructional term for students begin no earlier than August 10, and end no later than June 10, except for schools operating on a balanced calendar.

The bill also increases number of two-hour blocks for faculty senate meetings from four to six and permits accrued minutes to be used for lost instructional days.

The committee also considered SB 18, which would require ACT and ACT Aspire to be used as the comprehensive statewide student assessment, but voted to postpone any decision on the bill until the next meeting.

Members raised concerns that the bill would approve a business monopoly in school testing for ACT and eliminate the choice for students to take the SAT, which is still accepted by many schools across the country.

SB 200 and SB 273 were referred to the Education sub-comittee on School Choice for more research.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 04:15 PM

Senate Health Approves Bill to Raise Tobacco Age

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources has approved a bill that would raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco, tobacco-derived, alternative nicotine and vapor products to 21 from the original age of 18.

The decision on the bill, SB 37, was heavily debated and narrowly approved, with six votes for and five votes against.

Those opposed to the bill felt that it was not the state's job to dictate the behavior of adults.

Senator Robert Karnes (R-Upshur) said it would be "absurd" to deny tobacco products to those already able to vote or enlist in war, especially since doing so would "create an entirely new class of criminals" who are already addicted to nicotine.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, said the bill would do little to solve current addiction issues, and it would not stop the use of tobacco, as 80 percent of cigarette smokers have had their first cigarettes before the legal age of 18.

Senator Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha), Chair, said while he understands the importance of allowing people to make their own choices, tobacco use has become the most significant health issue in the state.

"This is tough," Takubo said. "But tobacco has shown many times to be more dangerous than heroin."

Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) said the change in legal age could also help save the state Medicare costs, as smoking has shown to be the "number one driver of health care costs."

However, Karnes suggested that the change in legal age could cause the state to lose $6-7 million in tobacco sales.

Stollings also said the bill could help West Virginia to change its status as one of the top states in the nation for tobacco use.

Despite this, Senator Mike Azinger (R-Wood) said the bill seems to be "just political correctness," since it has been proven that those who regularly use tobacco have been using it since before they were of legal age.

He also suggested the bill could be enforcing policies that lie "outside the parameters of constitutional law," since the bill could be seen as "defining morals."

Hawaii and California have already raised the legal age to 21 for purchasing tobacco, and many states appear to be considering such legislation themselves. 

A similar bill is pending before Congress to enact in Washington, D.C.

The committee also approved bills SB 40, SB 187 and SB 188 to go before the floor with the recommendation to pass.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 03:05 PM

Ten Bills Leave House Energy Committee

The House Energy Committee met today and approved HB 2221, HB 2222, HB 2223, HB 2224, HB 2225, HB 2226, HB 2227, HB 2228, HB 2229, and HB 2267.

HB 2221 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Alternative Emission Limitations During Startup, Shutdown, and Maintenance Operations. 

HB 2222 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Ambient Air Quality Standards. 

HB 2223 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Permits for Construction, Modification, Relocation and Operation of Stationary Sources of Air Pollutants, Notification Requirements, Administrative Updates, Temporary Permits, General Permits, Permission to Commence Construction and Procedures for Evaluation. 

HB 2224 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Permits for Construction and Major Modification of Major Stationary Sources for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration of Air Quality.

HB 2225 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources.

HB 2226 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to the Control of Air Pollution from Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities.

HB 2227 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

HB 2228 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Voluntary Remediation and Redevelopment.

HB 2229 would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a legislative rule relating to Awarding of Matching Grants for Local Litter Control Programs.

The above legislation is to meet requirements set by the federal DEP.

HB 2267 would authorize the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training to issue a legislative rule relating to Certification, Recertification and Training of EMT-Miners and the Certification of EMT-M Instructors.

All legislation today will be reported to the House with recommendation that it do pass, but be referred to the Judiciary Committee first. 



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 01:45 PM

Five Bills with DEP Rule Changes Pass Through Senate Energy Committee

The Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee met today to discuss five bills. These bills were SB 106, SB 110, SB 111, SB 112, and SB 113. These bills contain rule modifications that promote consistency in language that goes all the way up to a federal level.

Senate Bill 106 would modify a DEP rule relating to various permits.

Senate Bill 110 would modify a DEP rule relating to emission standards for hazardous air pollutants.

Senate Bill 111 would modify a DEP rule relating to ambient air quality standards.

Senate Bill 112 would modify a DEP rule relating to voluntary remediation and redevelopment.

Senate Bill 113 would modify a DEP rule relating to awarding of matching grants to local litter control.

 

Chair of the committee, Senator Smith (R-Tucker), said this would be the last meeting regarding rule changes and from here on out it would be the "meat and potatoes."



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 01:40 PM

House Senior Citizen Issues Discuss Two Bills

Today the Committee on Senior Citizen Issues met and discussed HB 2404 and HB 2167.

HB 2404 would bar people who are convicted of certain criminal offenses from acquiring property from their victims through joint tenancy or inheritance; the bill also creates exceptions. 

HB 2167 would add senior citizens to the Silver Alert program; the bill also defines a term and provides an establishment date. Silver Alert is a public notification system to broadcast information about missing senior citizens. It uses various media outlets to get information out about the missing persons. 



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 12:25 PM

Erin's Law on Second Reading and 2 other bills on First Reading today in House

Today, the House convened and HB 2099, also know as Erin's Law, was read for second time. HB 2303 and HB 2319 were read for the first time. 

HB 2099 would define the act of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony. The bill also establishes the act of leaving the scene of a crash that does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor and defines bodily injury and serious bodily injury. 

HB 2303 would increase the fines and community service hours for littering. 

HB 2319 would require members of the Legislature to disclose contributions and fund-raising events while the Legislature is in session. 

Committee Meetings Today

Senior Citizens Issues: 1 p.m. in 215E

Energy: 2 p.m. in 410M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse: 3:30 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 434M

Sub-Committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior: 9 a.m. in 215E

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 11:53 AM

Three Bills Move to Third Reading Today in the Senate

Today the Senate moved three bills from second to third reading. The bills moved were SB 127, SB 230, and SB 233.

Senate Bill 127 would authorize the Department of Revenue to promulgate legislative rules.

Senate Bill 230 would relate to West Virginia officials carrying concealed firearms nationwide.

Senate Bill 233 would exclude protection of oral communication uttered in child care centers from the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act.

Senate Bill 174, which is on third reading, was laid over one day.

Senate Resolution 14 was adopted today which designates February 16, 2017 as West Virginia Homeschool Day.

Senator Woelfel (D-Cabell), during remarks, expressed his opposition to SB 184 which would privatize the West Virginia School of Orthopedic Medicine. He said that the state could potentially lose money on this transaction.

The following meetings are today:

Health and Human Resources at 1 p.m. in 451M.

Energy, Industry and Mining at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Education at 2 p.m. in 451M.

Government Organization at 2 p.m. in 208W.

Finance at 3 p.m. in 451M.

Judiciary at 3 p.m. in 208W.

Tomorrow mornings meetings are:

Judiciary at 9 a.m. in 208W.

Confirmations at 9:30 a.m. in 451M.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.



Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 10:07 AM

Senate Finance Hears from Attorney General

The Senate Finance Committee heard a presentation 9:30 a.m. Thursday from State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey about the budget needs of the Attorney General's Office.

Morrisey is asking for $4.48 million to be appropriated to the Attorney General's Office from the budget, as opposed to Governor Justice's proposed appropriation of $4.44 million.

Morrisey said the extra funds will be used to provide enough reserves to handle "unpredictable" cases that may either end in a settlement or go to an expensive trial.

In the end, Morrisey said the requested appropriation will also help the Attorney General's Office to stay with in-house counsel and take in the Medicaid Fraud Unit to be "more aggressive" in fighting Medicaid fraud--both of which, Morrisey said, will save money for the state and its taxpayers.

Senate Finance will meet 3 p.m. Thursday in room 451M.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:38 PM

Senate Finance Hears from Treasurer and Auditor

The Senate Finance Committee heard from State Treasurer John Perdue and State Auditor John McCuskey as to their budget requests for the 2018 fiscal year.

The committee first heard from Perdue, who gave a presentation on the accomplishments of the Treasurer's office, as well as the problems they could use more funding for.

Perdue asked the committee to appropriate 3.6 million to the Treasurer's Office, as opposed to the 3.1 million proposed in Governor Justice's budget bill, in order to fund several programs run by the office that Perdue believes would help lift the state out of "tough, tough times."

After a long series of questioning, the committee heard a comparatively short presentation from McCuskey.

McCuskey said the 2.7 million allocated to the Auditor's Office in Justice's budget proposal is "sufficient enough for us to perform our constitutional duties."

Committee Chairman Mike Hall (R-Putnam) reminded the committee after the presentations to research and find any information they might not have been able to acquire from questioning the presenters. 

Senate Finance will meet 9:30 a.m. Thursday in 451M.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:34 PM

House Sub-committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior Reports Seven Bills

The House of Delegates sub-committee on Anti-Competitive Behavior met today and reported seven bills to the committee on Government Organization. The bills were HB 2286, HB 2287, HB 2278, HB 2285, HB 2288, HB 2289 and HB 2250.

House Bill 2286 would change how voter registration works at the DMV. Steve Conley, the Deputy Secretary of State said that the DMV and County Clerks cannot support automatic voter registration and that it is unmanageable for them. He suggested that the previous legislation changing voter registration to an opt in to opt out be repealed or HB 2286 go forward in order for automatic voter registration to continue. HB 2286 was reported to the committee on Government Organization with no recommendation.

House Bill 2287 would remove ineligible voters from the county clerk’s record and was reported to the committee on Government Organization with the recommendation that it is adopted.

House Bill 2285 would modify a rule regarding sanitarians. Included would be redefinitions of some of the language of the rule and an added 60-day grace period with a $50 late fee for finishing continuing education for sanitarians. This bill was amended by Delegate Pat McGeehan (R-Hancock) and was reported to the committee on Government Organization with recommendation that it is adopted. Delegates Mike Caputo (D-Marion) and Jon Williams (D-Monongalia) opposed the amended bill's passage.

House Bill 2288, House Bill 2289, House Bill 2250, and House Bill 2278 were also reported to the committee on Government Organization with the recommendation that they are adopted.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:19 PM

Senate Agriculture Reports One Bill, Postpones Other Bill

The Senate Committee on Agriculture & Rural Development has reported SB 25 to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

SB 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 those in need.

A representative thanked the committee on behalf of West Virginia food banks across the state.

The committee also considered SB 27, which would permit home-based, micro-processing foods to be sold at farmers markets under certain requirements, before deciding to postpone their decision on the bill until the next meeting after they are able to find more information on ensuring those foods would be safely administered.

Local West Virginia farmer Pamela Kessler shared her support for SB 27's passage with the committee. She said she has struggled with being able to provide her clients with the products they wish to buy from her.

"Not being able to give your customers what they want, that hurts," Kessler said. "It feels like we are being handcuffed."

Her husband and six children were present with her at the meeting.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 04:10 PM

Bill to Help WV Schools for the Deaf and Blind Approved in House Education Committee

HB2123 would make the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind eligible to participate in any and all funding administered for distributed by the West Virginia School Building Authority. It was approved by the Education Committee and will be reported to the House floor with the recommendation that it do pass but first be referred to the House Finance Committee. 

During this committee meeting, the WV Higher Education Policy Commission presented an overview and fiscal year 2018 budget analysis. It reported that graduation from WV four-year institutions is up by 16 percent and that the demand for four-year degree holders is increasing. 

A Sub-Committee on K-12 was created and will be chaired by Delegate Upson. Members of the sub-committee include Delegates Dean, Baldwin, Westfall, and Thompson.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 03:57 PM

Senate Economic Development Consider Bill to Revitalize Historic Districts

The Senate Committee on Economic Development considered a bill Wednesday that would help provide more funding to rehabilitation projects for certified historic structures throughout the state.

The bill, SB 238, would raise the tax credit allowed for these projects from 10 percent to 25 percent. 

After hearing from several different supporters of the bill, including representatives from the West Virginia State Preservation Office and the City of Fairmont, the committee voted to postpone their decision on the bill until the next meeting.

Mike Gioulis of Revitalize West Virginia Downtowns said every county except for Clay has a historic district that could benefit from the tax credit increase.

Gioulis said the increase would also attract more projects to the state, that would in turn create more jobs and raise property values for historic cities.

Currently, West Virginia has the lowest tax credit of all surrounding states.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:36 PM

Two Bills Reported from Senate Workforce

The Senate Workforce Committee reported SB 191 and SB 222 to the floor Wednesday with the recommendation to pass.

SB 191 would remove the requirment that programs be jointly administered by labor and management trustees in order to qualify for tax credits for apprenticeship training in construction trades. 

Senator Glenn Jeffries (D-Putnam) suggested two amendments to the bill. The first, which would have added $2 to the applicable minimum wage for those in apprenticeship programs in order to attract individuals who want to learn trade, was rejected by the committee primarily for legal concerns.

The second, which would add a subsection to the bill requiring employers to run apprentices through the E-Verify system in order for them to qualify for the tax credits in the bill, was adopted. The committee approved reporting the amended version of the bill to the floor for passage.

SB 222 would disqualify an individual from receiving benefits for any week, or portion of a week, in which he or she left or lost his or her job as a result of a strike.

Local labor attorney Patrick Maroney said adoption of the bill would be an "intrusion by the state" that would "do more harm to both the company and employees" than good.

He added that the current statute should remain in place, as it has been "very, very good" at maintaining company-employee bargains for nearly 60 years.

However, the committee overall approved the bill to be reported to the floor with the recommendation to pass.

Senators Robert Beach (D-Monongalia) and Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) opposed the bill's passage.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:27 PM

Bill Strengthening the Whistle-blower Law Passes in House

Today, in the House of Delegates HB 2006 was passed. The bill increases the penalties for violating the Whistle-blower Law and authorizes the termination from employment for a violation, instead of the current allowance of a suspension not to exceed six months. 

HB 2099 was read for the first time today. This bill defines the act of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or serious bodily injury as a felony. It also establishes the act of leaving the scene of a crash that does not proximately cause death or injury as a misdemeanor and defines bodily injury and serious bodily injury. 

HB 2455 was introduced today. The bill would create a searchable online database containing past and recent budget and expenditure information creating and maintaining a searchable online budget database to easily access the details on how the state is spending their tax dollars and what performance results are achieved by those expenditures. The State Auditor and Legislative Auditor working in concert are authorized to establish any methods or procedures as necessary to accomplish the intent and goal of this article.

Committee Meetings Today

Finance: 2 p.m. in 406M

Sub-Committee Anti-Competitive Behavior: 2 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary: Continuing at 2:30 p.m. in 410M

Education: 2:30 p.m. in 434M

Gov. Org.: Continuing at 4 p.m. in 215E

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Banking and Insurance: 10 a.m. in 215E

Senior Citizens Issues: 1 p.m. in 215E

Energy: 2 p.m. in 410M

Health and Human Resources: 2 p.m. in 215E

The House is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow. 



Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 12:21 PM

Senate Passes Six Bills Today

The Senate met today and passed six bills. The bills passed were SB 151, SB 169, SB 170, SB 171, SB 176, and SB 237.

Senate Bill 237 would repeal obsolete rules of the Department of Revenue.

Senate Bill 169, Senate Bill 170, Senate Bill 171 and Senate Bill 176 would repeal obsolete and unfunded programs. These programs have been moved to federal funding, were never funded or are no longer necessary. They repeal a state hemophilia program, programs of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly, an article concerning detection of tuberculosis, high blood pressure and diabetes, and an article providing assistance to Korea and Vietnam veterans exposed to certain chemical defoliants.

Senate Bill 151 would authorize the Department of Administration to promulgate the legislative rules.

There were 11 bills that were introduced today. Included were SB 319 and SB 326.

Senate Bill 319 would modify requirements for employing nurses in public schools.

Senate Bill 326 would require the Department of Defense family advocacy groups be notified about abuse or neglect of military member's child.

The following committees meet today:

Economic Development at 1 p.m. in 208W.

Agriculture at 2 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.

Finance will also meet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

 

 

The Senate is adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.




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Recent Entries
Friday, 02/17/17 - 02:50 PM
›› Select Committee on Tax Reform Meets to Discuss Upcoming Bill 335
Friday, 02/17/17 - 12:26 PM
›› Erin's Law Heads to Senate
Friday, 02/17/17 - 12:15 PM
›› Four Bills Pass in the Senate Today
Thursday, 02/16/17 - 04:33 PM
›› House Committee on Health and Human Resources Reports Seven Bills
Thursday, 02/16/17 - 04:31 PM
›› Senate Education Approves SB 242, Postpones Decision on SB 18



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