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Today in the Legislature

Friday, March 24, 2017 - 03:55 PM

Bill Relating to Sale of Tax Maps is Reported Out of Senate Government Organization

The Senate Government Organization Committee met today to pass three bills out of the committee.

Senate Bill 588 relates to reproduction, distribution and sale of tax maps. The purpose of this bill is to create a funding source to distribute and reproduce the tax maps while also giving the public access to them. Paper and electronic tax maps will be made available for purchase from the county assessor. There would be no limit to the reproduction. There would be no liability to third parties for errors in the maps. Each map would be $25 and the revenue would be split throughout different funds.

Senator Sypolt (R-Preston) said the purpose of the bill is to get more information regarding tax in the hands of the people but also make it self-sustaining.

A representative of the Kanawha County Assessor’s Office said they were in support of the bill to have a new revenue stream in order to keep the maps updated and available.

The bill was reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 534 relates to incentives for consolidating local governments. The purpose of the bill is to provide incentives for local services to consolidate in order to save money and become more efficient. 

Former Senator McCabe spoke in favor of the bill as council. He said, "This kind of legislation puts forth a mindset that can help us compete more at a national level."

The bill was reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 501 relates to the WV Economic Development Authority. The bill was reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that it pass.



Friday, March 24, 2017 - 03:07 PM

Select Committee on Tax Reform Reports Two Bills

The Select Committee on Tax Reform met briefly to discuss two bills today.

Senate Bill 409 would modify exemptions for consumer’s sales and service tax. The bill gives exemptions to some taxes on services under the sales tax but not to others. The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass but first be referred to the Committee on Finance.

Joint Resolution 8 would be the Fair and Simple Tax Reform Amendment. It repeals many parts of the tax code and added a new section. It repeals some property tax exemptions. It also changes law that allows local bonds be used to upkeep city and state property. The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass but first be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.



Friday, March 24, 2017 - 03:02 PM

House Passes Bill to Sell Jackie Withrow Hospital

The House of Delegates met today and passed 14 bills.

SB 306 would supplement, amend, and increase an item of appropriation in the aforesaid account for the designated spending unit for expenditure during the fiscal year 2017. The bill passed 99-0.

HB 2180 would authorize the issuing of special “In God We Trust” license plates for a $10 fee, as well as special “Friends of Coal” license plates. The bill passed 98-0.

HB 2208 would allow counties and municipalities to establish a joint airport hazard comprehensive plan for the purpose of satisfying requirements of federal aviation law, protecting the public safety or preventing hazardous conditions. This is to help with safety with takeoff and landing. The bill passed 98-0.

HB 2366 would require the selling of Jackie Withrow Hospital by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources. Currently, the state owns seven long-term care facilities. The Department of Corrections uses part of the building. Delegate Nelson said this bill allows the Secretary of DHHR to look into selling the facility and most importantly, where to relocate the residents. Delegate Bates stood to educate the House about Jackie Withrow. She was a member of the House of Delegates and the first woman to chair the Health and Human Resources Committee. If passed and the hospital is closed, there is a special revenue account to be known as the “Jackie Withrow Long Term Care Facility Development Fund.” The bill passed 58-41.

HB 2475 would require the Auditor and other state, county, district or municipal officers to certify to the Tax Commissioner the identity of payees prior to issuance of payments, and authorize the Tax Commissioner to identify those payees who are not in good standing with the Tax Department and to require the Auditor or issuing officer to forward to the Tax Commissioner the lesser of the amount of tax interest and penalty owed or the remaining amount of payment. The bill passed 96-2.

HB 2494 would provide that statewide school report cards are only to be made available to custodial parents and guardians of students upon request instead of automatically being sent to the parents and guardians. The bill passed 95-2.

HB 2524 would improve the focus on school-level continuous improvement processes led by the principal. The instruction must include the standards for high quality schools, the school accreditation process and strategic planning for continuous improvement. In the bill, school systems are given the flexibility to establish their own systems of support and supervision of beginning principals and the current state mandated programs and processes are eliminated. The bill passed 63-35.

HB 2679 would prohibit county park commissions from prohibiting firearms in their facilities and to clarify that a firearm may be carried by a person for self-defense in state parks, state forests and state recreational areas managed by the Department of Natural Resources. The bill passed 95-4.

HB 2702 would excuse students from school for a family member’s illness provided an in depth excuse is provided by a doctor with a reason of why the student needs to be home with the family member. The bill passed 95-3.

HB 2709 would authorize the City of South Charleston to levy a special district excise tax for the benefit of the South Charleston Park Place Economic Opportunity Development District. This would allow for a road expansion and development opportunities for an 80-acre pond and tech park. The bill passed 92-5.

HB 2734 would authorize a method for the collection and remittance of property taxes related to dealer’s heavy equipment inventory. The bill passed 98-0.

HB 2774 wouldallow aircraft and aircraft parts to be taxed at the same rate as aircraft property. The bill passed 92-4.

HB 2805 would declare certain claims against the state to be moral obligations of the state and to authorize payments therefor from the following funds: General Revenue Fund: $ 624,388.72, State Road Fund: $828,710.52, and Special Revenue Funds: $ 458,733.53 for a total of $1,911,832.77. The bill passed 98-0.

HB 3093 would establish Broadband Enhancement and Expansion Policies. The bill would authorize the establishment of cooperative associations for the purpose of obtaining internet services. The bill passed 97-2.

Committee Meetings Today

Gov. Org.: 3 p.m. in 215E

Judiciary: 3:15 p.m. in 410M

Education: 3:15 p.m. in 434M

Finance: 3:15 p.m. in 460M 

The House is in recess until 5:30 p.m. this evening. 

›› House bills introduced on this date
›› Completed Legislation

Friday, March 24, 2017 - 02:32 PM

Senate Passes Second Chance to Work Bill on Floor

The Senate met this morning to pass nine bills on third reading.

Senate Resolution 51 designated March 24, 2017 as Jefferson County Day and Senate Resolution 52 designated March 24, 2017 as firefighter's day.

Senate Bill 18 would require a new comprehensive statewide student assessment.

Senator Prezioso (D-Marion) said, "This bill is a total assault on public education. I oppose it."

Senator Romano (D-Harrison) also opposed it and said, "If we don't have a strong education system, then the American dream is nothing but a puff of smoke."

Senator Karnes (R-Upshur) was for the bill and said, "Taxpayers need to know that their dollars are being invested wisely."

The bill passed with a vote of 18 yeas and 16 nays.

Senate Bill 61 would Provide consumers sales and service tax and use tax exemption for certain services and tangible personal property sold for repair, remodeling and maintenance of aircraft.

Senate Bill 76 would create the West Virginia Second Chance for Employment Act.

Senator Jeffries (D-Putnam) said, "This gives us an opportunity to welcome able, trustworthy citizens back into a normal life."

Senator Gaunch (R-Kaanawha) said, "I believe in personal responsibility but I also believe in mercy and this bill strikes a great balance between both."

Senate Bill 183 would transfer the Division of Forestry from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Agriculture.

Senate Bill 419 would create special revenue fund sources for the Division of Labor to meet statutory obligations.

Senate Bill 464 would eliminate taxation on annuity consideration received by life insurer.

Senate Bill 486 relates to health care provider taxes.

Senate Bill 535 would reorganize the Division of Tourism and rename it to the West Virginia Tourism Office. The bill also allows for increased flexibility to market the state with a more strategic and results driven approach.

Senate Bill 538 would create special conditions of parole.

The following committees meet today:

Select Committee on Tax Reform at 2:15 p.m. in 451M.

Energy, Industry and Mining at 2:15 p.m. in 208W.

Government Organization at 3:15 p.m. in 451M or 208W.

Judiciary at 4:15 p.m. in 208W.

Finance at 4:15 p.m. in 451M.

The following committees meet tomorrow:

Natural Resources at 8 a.m.

Government Organization at 8 a.m.

Education at 9 a.m.

 

The Senate is adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.



Friday, March 24, 2017 - 11:06 AM

Senate Health Refers Medical Cannabis Bill out of Committee

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources discussed one bill this morning.

Senate Bill 386 would create the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act. This bill would set up a cannabis commission in DHHR. There would be an application process, ongoing evaluations, conditions needing to be met for the use of cannabis, and a referral process. There would be a criminal background check and registration process for the growers as well. The bill is also set up to be diverse in geography and minority owned businesses. There is a penalty for violation of the bill of 5 years and $10,000. There is also a proposed substitute with technical changes. 

Senator Clements (R-Wetzel) asked, "Are there records that will be kept on who is prescribing this?"

Council confirmed that there would be.

Senator Maroney (R-Marshall) said, "I've never really given a lot of thought to this but this definitely helps people with certain diseases. I'm glad we are talking about it."

Senator Stollings (D-Boone) moved to amend the bill to mandate that the recommendations are reported to the board of pharmacy. The amendment was adopted.

Senator Stollings also moved to amend the bill so that ten percent of the contracts awarded through the commission would go to the Veteran's Agriculture Program. The amendment was adopted.

Senator Karnes (R-Upshur) moved that those with the prescription can grow their own two plants for personal use instead of going to a dispensary in order to keep the price down. The amendment was adopted.

Senator Maroney said, "I personally can't support the bill as written but I can support the concept. The bill is too broad. I also don't know what it would mean if we legalize this in the state but not federally."

The bill was reported to the Committee on the Judiciary with the recommendation that it pass with a vote of 6 yeas and 5 nays.



Friday, March 24, 2017 - 10:17 AM

House Gov. Org. Discuss Originating Bill at Morning Meeting

House Government Organization discussed HB 2376 and HB Originating in committee this morning.

HB 2376 would provide that the Bureau for Medical Services be renamed the Department of Medical Services with the Commissioner of the Bureau for Medical Services becoming the Secretary of the Department of Medical Services.  The bill would provide that the Department continue to operate as currently configured as the Bureau for Medical Services with the structure of the Department of the Health and Human Resources for administrative support, interagency cooperation and program support.

HB Originating would create the Board of Nursing and Health services, by combining all nursing and health boards into one.  



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 04:33 PM

Vaccination Exemption Bill Approved in Senate Education

Senate Education met today and discussed SB 401 and SB 537.

SB 401 wouldpermit a county board of education to base its employment decisions, transfers, reassignments, reducing the number of professional personnel, reductions in classroom teaching positions and reductions in the workforce on an individual’s qualifications. The goal of this legislation is to keep the most qualified educators in the classroom.

Chairman Mann (R-Monroe) stepped out of the chairman’s seat to be able to discuss this bill, because he opposed it. He believes we are already keeping our most qualified teachers here and moving from the seniority system could lead to the “buddy-system,” where people are hired because of who they know, not their qualifications. He also felt changing to this system could burden the county boards of education.

Senator Plymale (D-Wayne) said he had an issue with number nine on the list of considerations for filling vacancies. Number nice states, “Other measures or indicators upon which the relative qualifications of the applicant may fairly be judged.” He said without knowing these other measures, he wasn’t comfortable supporting the bill. The bill passed the committee 7-6 and will be sent to the full Senate.

SB 537 wouldprovide exemptions from mandatory immunizations. Sharron Stefan spoke to the committee and stated she has treated children and never saw a serious complication from vaccinations. Senator Stollings (D-Boone) said, “98-99 percent of the health care community is in agreement with vaccines.” He said being able to prevent diseases with vaccines are what we hope for. The bill passed in the committee and will be sent to the full Senate.

 

The committee recessed until 6:30 p.m. this evening. 



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 04:25 PM

Senate Gov. Org. Approves Bill to Exempt DHHR from Certain Purchasing Requirements

The Senate Government Organization Committee has approved four bills to be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they pass. 

SB 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.

DNR Director Steve McDaniel said the division very much supports the bill.

The bill was previously reported out of Senate Natural Resources with the recommendation that it pass.

SB 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.

SB 671 would reestablish the West Virginia Anatomical Board.

SB 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.

DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples said the current purchasing policies have created problems with allowing the DHHR to cooperate with WVU and Marshall in a timely manner for collaborative projects, events or activities.

Samples said there are very many universities in states throughout the nation that already have such provisions in place.

Andrew Kirkner of the West Virginia Association of Health Plans said the private sector's main concern is ensuring that they are still able to competitively bid on certain contracts the bill deals with.

Kirkner counsel made an amendment related to the bill's treatment of Medicaid, which the committee adopted.

The committee laid over SB 638, which would provide an exemption from taking the business and law portion of the examination for a license under the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Act when an applicant presents evidence of retaining a certified public accountant or public accountant to file business and tax filings required by the state and federal government.

Members felt that they needed more time to assess the provisions of the bill in relation to the exam to ensure those exempted from the business and law portion of the exam would still be qualified to do their jobs as needed.

David Mullins and Mitchell Woodrum of the Division of Labor were present to answer questions from members of the committee about the examination.

Members of the committee also adopted the subcommittee reports for Senate Bills 294534 and 501.

The committee is recessed until a time that will be announced tomorrow during the Senate floor session.



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 03:44 PM

House Finance Reports Bill to Sell Hopemont Hospital

The House Finance Committee met again this afternoon to discuss three bills.

House Bill 3048 relates to collection of Tier II fees for chemical inventories. The fees collected would be increased to a maximum of $2,500 from $100. 

Delegate Westfall (R-Jackson) asked if this was a one-time fee. Council informed the committee that the fees would be taken up over time.

The jump for the fees are to pay for training of employees and maintenance of the facilities that house the chemicals. The manufacturers of the chemicals are also in favor of the bill.

The bill was reported to the floor of the House with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2720  would allow the School Building Authority to transfer funds allocated into the School Construction Fund. The bill as introduced would allow transfer of funds to a school construction funds. The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 3102 relates to selling Hopemont Hospital. The bill ensures that a replacement facility be constructed that can hold at least 60 beds for the patients in the hospital. The bill was amended by Delegate Longstreth (D-Marion) to ensure the beds built would be given to those at Hopemont first.

Delegate Longstreth said, "I was trying to make it more clear that this would be a replacement facility for the patients and not replacing Hopemont itself."

Delegate Walters (R-Kanawha) asked, "If a patient can receive better service at another facility, are we now restricting them to this facility?"

Council responded that the bill would not force them to go to the certain replacement facility for long term care.

Delegate Householder (R-Berkeley) urged rejection of the amendment. He said the language was duplicative and places an unneeded burden on those selling the hospital.

The amendment was adopted. The bill was then reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 03:18 PM

Bill Related to Health Care Record Fees Approved in Senate Health

The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee has approved a bill that would establish a new fee structure for the furnishment of health care records.

The bill, SB 578, would do so 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.

Stephen New of the West Virginia Association for Justice, said there are problems with the bill, since current law was specifically created to comply with federal law and the proposed bill would violate those agreements.

Senator Charles Trump, R-Morgan, is the lead sponsor of the bill and said he created the bill to address the amount of litigation with the current law by setting clearer cost caps on the documents.

The committee also voted to lay over HB 2459, which would clarify certain requirements of the certificate of need process.

The bill was sent to the committee last year but was never voted on or reported out.

Sonia Chambers, chair of the West Virginia Healthcare Authority, was available to answer questions from members of the committee about the effects of the bill.

Secretary of the DHHR Bill Crouch was also present to field questions from the committee, but he said the DHHR did not have time to review the bill prior to the meeting.

Senator Ron Stollings, D-Boone, motioned that the committee lay the bill over until the bill could be further reviewed by those parties affected by it.

The committee is in recess until 10 a.m. tomorrow, where they will meet again in room 451M in order to finish addressing the previous bill, as well as Senate Bills 386 and 47, which were also on the agenda for today.



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 03:06 PM

House Judiciary Approve Com. Sub. for Parental Notification Bill (HB 2002)

The Judiciary Committee met to receive sub-committee reports and move bills to House floor.

HB 2930 wouldallow a Powerball winner to be anonymous if they elect to be anonymous. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2704 wouldprohibit persons convicted of sexual offenses against children with whom they hold positions of trust from holding certification or license valid in public schools. It would also prohibit persons convicted of sexual offenses against children with whom they hold positions of trust from being employed by any educational, vocational, training, day care, group home, foster care program, or rehabilitation facility in the state and increase penalties for persons who are school employees and convicted of sexual offenses against children with whom they hold positions of trust. The sub-committee found it is already illegal for someone convicted of those crimes to be near a school or accept employment there. The committee substitute takes criminal code and applies it to educational code. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2781 would require voters to provide a photo identification when voting and identify the requirements for those photo identifications, to set forth certain qualifying identification documents. It would provide for provisional ballots to be cast by voters who do not possess the required photo identification. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2002 would require a 24 hour wait from constructive (mail) notification to parent of minor. The minor, alone or with doctor, may petition the court for notification waiver. The committee substitute also state minor should see a psychiatrist. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2520 was reconsidered to reject an amendment from the Health and Human Resources Committee. The bill prohibits the use of tanning devices by minors, those under the age of 18. The bill passed again and will be reported to the floor with the recommendation that it do pass.

 

The Judiciary Committee is in recess until after the floor session this evening. 



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 02:30 PM

Seven Bills Moved from House Today

Today the House of Delegates passed seven bills.

SB 127 would authorize the Insurance Commissioner to issue a legislative rule relating to Adoption of a Valuation Manual.

HB 2519 would require the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to enter into a compact to ensure payment for health care services provided to other states’ Medicaid participants.

HB 2808 would provide assisted outpatient treatment to individuals suffering from mental illness to prevent them from harming themselves or others, as well as to prevent the costs of inpatient involuntary hospitalization and costs of incarceration due to untreated mental illness.

HB 2857 would create the West Virginia Safer Workplaces Act. It allows employers to test employees and prospective employees for drugs and alcohol. The drug testing must be done during work time and the employer must pay for the testing. If a test is failed, a second test shall be administered. If both come back with positive results, then discipline actions may be taken. The goal of this legislation is to make the workplace safe for all employees.

HB 3009 wouldgrant the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification access to the Controlled Substances Monitoring Program database for regulatory purposes.

HB 3061 wouldencourage a limited cohort of schools to implement mastery-based education through the Innovation In Education program.  The Department of Education is given a range of duties from the identification of barriers and potential solutions to developing an incubator process to support schools awarded an Innovation In Schools/Mastery-Based grant. The schools must meet the same requirements and accountability as other Innovation In Education schools.

HB 3089 would provide a transition to the county board of education level of the process for review and adoption of instructional resources required to be used in the schools under the jurisdiction of the county board.

HB 2702 was on 2nd reading today and was amended by Delegate Cowles (R-Morgan) and Delegate Summers (R-Taylor). HB 2707 would provide that excused absences for personal illness, when a family of member of student is ill.

Delegate Cowles amended it to add more flexibility and clarity for unintended consequences. It added nurse practitioner to the list of medical practitioners who could give medical documentation for the family member and changed family member to include not just the parent or guardian. His amendment also states that notification could be given within three days of returning.

Delegate Summers amended it by removing the notification of absences at three days, as there is notification at five days.

HB 2871 was moved out of Rules Committee. This bill eliminates the mandatory 80 percent of the employer, 20 percent employee cost share on PEIA active employee premiums and to instead set 80 percent as the maximum employer share and 20 percent as the minimum employee share.

Committee Meetings Today

Finance: 2 p.m. in 460M

Judiciary: 2 p.m. in 410M

Rules: 4:45 p.m. behind House Chamber

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Finance: 9 a.m. in 460M

Judiciary: 9 a.m. in 410M

Gov. Org.: 9 a.m. in 215E

Education: 9:30 a.m. in 434M

The House is in recess until 5 p.m. tonight. 

Update:

The Rules Committee moved SB 347, HB 2763, HB 2794, HB 2799, HB 2804, HB 2805, HB 2850, HB 2878, HB 2897, HB 2941, and HB 3096 from the Special Calendar to the House Calendar. 

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

›› House bills introduced on this date
›› Completed Legislation

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 02:15 PM

Senate Passes Bill Allowing Sunday Retail Sale of Liquor

The Senate has passed 15 bills to be sent to the House for further consideration.

SB 339 would create a legislative coalition to study and report to the Legislature on chronic pain management in the state.

SB 362 would permit the redirection of the deposit of revenues collected from certain surcharges and assessments on workers’ compensation insurance policies and derived from net terminal income funds by the Governor through executive order to the General Revenue Fund.

SB 414 would create the Division of Multimodal Transportation under the Secretary of Transportation and to combine the employees, equipment, assets, liabilities and duties previously executed by the Public Port Authority, the state Aeronautics Commission and the West Virginia State Rail Authority.

SB 461 would exempt the West Virginia State Police from state purchasing requirements.

SB 467 would increase the maximum bet permitted for limited video lottery terminals, remove restrictions on bill denominations accepted by limited video lottery terminals and fix the state share of gross profits from limited video lottery revenues at 50% beginning July 1, 2017.

SB 472 would permit bear hunting with guides.

SB 479 would allow sales of liquor by retail licensees after one o’clock p.m. on Sundays and transfer the authority to set the maximum wholesale markup percentage of all liquor, other than wine, from the commissioner to the Legislature.

SB 499 would create the Debt Resolution Services Division within the Auditor’s office administered by the existing employees of the Auditor’s office.

SB 523 would make statutory changes related to converting to a biweekly pay cycle from a monthly or semimonthly cycle for state employees. This bill would be effective from passage.

SB 533 would provide that no wine or liquor excise tax will be collected on purchases of wine or intoxicating liquors in the original sealed package for resale, if the final purchase of the wine or intoxicating liquor is subject to the excise tax.

SB 572 would require that elections for county surveyors be conducted on a nonpartisan basis and provide for the appointment and election of a new county surveyor if the office is vacated.

SB 585 would strike the code section regarding locomotive power units and helper units.

SB 595 would allow portions of otherwise exempt property that are being used for nonexempt purposes to be separately assessed and taxed for property tax purposes.

SB 684 would correct existing incorrect references in the two sections relating to the West Virginia State Police. This bill would be effective from passage.

Members of the Senate also adopted SR 50 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the national and state ChalleNGe Program.

Senate Bills 18, 61, 76, 183, 419, 464, 486, 504, 535 and 538 were advanced from second reading.

Of those bills advanced, Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, made an amendment to SB 18 to make a provision requiring legislative oversight of the actions of state boards of education. Senator Mike Romano, D-Harrison, moved to amend the amendment to include home-schooled students under the provisions of the bill. His motion was rejected.

Another advanced bill, SB 535, was amended by Senator Charles Trump, R-Morgan, to allocate any bonds not issued or sold for the improvement of certain state parks nu January 1, 2018, to the General Revenue Fund.

Committee Meetings Today

Energy, Industry and Mining: 2:15 p.m. in 208W

Health and Human Resources: 2:15 p.m. in 451M

Government Organization: 3:15 p.m. in 208W

Education: 3:15 p.m. in 451M

Judiciary: 4:15 p.m. in 208W

Finance: 4:15 p.m. in 451M

Education: 6:15 p.m. in 451M (if needed)

Judiciary: 8:15 p.m. in 208W (if needed)

Committee Meetings Tomorrow

Health and Human Resources: 10 a.m. in 451M

Tax Reform: 1 p.m. in 451M

Judiciary: 2 p.m. in 208W

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

›› Senate bills introduced on this date
›› Completed Legislation

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 10:28 AM

House Finance Discusses Six Bills in Morning Meeting

The Finance Committee met this morning and discussed several bills.

HB 2962 would enlarge the authority of the Tax Commissioner to perform background investigations of employees and contractors and make technical corrections. The enactment of this bill is necessary for the Tax Commissioner to receive federal tax information for the Internal Revenue Service.

HB 2961 would amend the procedure by which a charitable gaming licensee may appeal the Tax Commissioner’s sanctions against the licensee for violations of the charitable gaming laws, by allowing the licensee to petition the Office of Tax Appeals for an administrative hearing rather than the Tax Commissioner.

HB 2963 would eliminate the requirement that the personal representative of a nonresident decedent apply to the Tax Commissioner for a certificate releasing all real property situate in this state from any estate tax lien, because West Virginia does not impose an estate tax or an inheritance tax on estates of persons dying after December 31, 2004.

HB 2967 would remove the requirements for the State Tax Commissioner to administer the fiduciary supervisor/fiduciary commissioner qualifying test and annual training seminar. 

HB 3091 would change the due date for employers to file their annual reconciliation and withholding statements with the Tax Commissioner to January 31, which date is consistent with the date by which employers must file their annual employer withholding reconciliation statements with the Internal Revenue Service and require more employers to file W-2 information electronically with the Tax Commissioner. 

HB 3102 would permit the Secretary of DHHR to sell Hopemont Hospital and its assets.

The Finance Committee will be meeting this afternoon at 2 p.m.  



Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 10:14 AM

Bills Related to Division of Highways Approved in Senate Finance

The Senate Finance Committee has approved five bills to be reported to the full Senate with the recommendation that they pass.

SB 614 would provide loan insurance for commercial loans used for the expansion of broadband service to unserved or underserved areas. 

The bill was previously reported out of Senate Economic Development with the recommendation that it do pass.

SB 69 would create the sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights.

The bill was previously reported out of Senate Judiciary with the recommendation that it do pass.

SB 416 would eliminate the cap on the size of projects constructed by the Division of Highways and to remove the sunset date.

Tom Smith, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said he was in support of the bill, since it would allow the department to more easily enter into public-private partnerships for infrastructure developments.

Smith said those partnerships would especially become helpful as the department becomes more dependent on private funding as state funding decreases due to budget issues.

The bill was previously reported out of Senate Transportation and Infrastructure with the recommendation that it do pass.

SB 417 would remove the financial limitations on how many design build projects may be undertaken by the Division of Highways.

Currently, no more than $50 million a year up to an aggregate of $150 million may be expended for design build projects.

Senator Greg Boso, R-Nicholas, said more funding to allow designers to work closely with construction teams can increase the safety and efficiency of certain projects.

The bill was previously reported out of Senate Transportation and Infrastructure with the recommendation that it do pass.

SB 421 would increase from $200 million to $500 million the amount the Division of Highways is allowed to use to apply for Federal Grant Anticipation Notes to be reimbursed from the funds made available to West Virginia from the federal government’s Highway Fund for West Virginia.  

Funds obtained from this federal grant will only be used for the completion of interstate or other highway facilities designated as part of the federal-aid highway system or for toll bridges.

The bill was previously reported out of Senate Transportation and Infrastructure with the recommendation that it do pass.

The committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today in 451M.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 07:56 PM

Senate Judiciary Lays Over Redistricting Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved three bills and an originating joint resolution to be reported to the floor with the recommendation that they pass.

HB 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.

Christina Merbedone, assistant director of Unclaimed Property, said the Treasurer's Office is against the bill due to certain amendments made to the bill in the House before coming to Senate Judiciary that would remove the Treasurer from having administration over unclaimed property.

SB 592 would provide for an independent redistricting commission to propose redistricting plans during census years.

According to counsel, the commission’s main task is to propose plans to the Legislature based on Constitutional and legal requirements and considerations and which is removed from stark political aspirations or concerns. 

Senator Mike Romano, D-Harrison, made a motion that would lay the bill over until Friday, March 24, to allow the committee more time to study the lengthy provisions of the bill.

Originating Joint Resolution #1 would propose an amendment to the state constitution to eliminate the office of county surveryor.

John Green of the West Virginia Society of Professional Surveyors said the society opposes the bill and he hopes the committee will reject it.

Counsel said only 9 individuals were elected to county surveyor roles out of all 55 counties.

HB 2001 would modify the ethics and purchasing laws to provide more transparency in government.

The committee heard the subcommittee report for the bill and approved the amendments suggested by the subcommittee as detailed in the report.

Rebecca Steptoe of the State Ethics Commission said the commission has reviewed the changes of the bill, and she made some suggestions for small improvements that could be made to the bill.

Senator Mike Romano, D-Harrison, made an amendment that would allow the quorum number to decrease to two-thirds when there are vacancies on the ethics board. The amendment was rejected.

Those in opposition cited the possibility that too many vacancies would allow board members of particular parties to gang up against a party that might be in the minority due to the vacancies for rejecting the amendment.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 04:59 PM

Senate Finance Discusses SNAP Requirement Bill

The Senate Finance Committee discussed six bills today.

Senate Bill 437 would discontinue the West Virginia Greyhound Breeding Fund. Yesterday there were concerns about distributions of funds from certain casino and race track activities no longer going to employee pensions. The committee added to the bill to ensure the pensions would stay secure.

A representative of the West Virginia Kennel Association said, "This legislation could end 1,700 jobs. This is going to cost more than it will get. Unemployment costs could go up and many West Virginian families may have to relocate."

The bill was reported to the Senate floor with the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 60 relates to eligibility and fraud requirements for public assistance. This bill would restrict SNAP benefits to those who have committed fraud against public assistance or those who are over six months behind on child support payments. The bill would require a computerized identity process for those applying for public assistance. About 7,000 of those getting SNAP benefits would have to start in a program to begin working as they are able bodies adults.

Senator Gaunch (R-Kanawha) asked, "Is there anything in this bill that would cause people to lose their benefits who deserve them?"

The representative said they would keep their benefits.

Senator Stollings (D-Boone) clarified for the committee that the state would be saving over $1 million if the bill is passed.

Senator Unger (D-Berkeley) asked, "If the legislature was to take the cowardly way out and cut and run. What would that do to DHHR in relation of that bill?"

The chair of the committee, Senator Hall (R-Putnam) said, "If we pass something out of this committee, it is the will of the Senate and we will fund it."

Senator Palumbo (D-Kanawha) moved to amend the bill to make the language regarding the phase in requirement of the bill clearer. The amendment was adopted.

Senator Facemire (D-Braxton) said the bill only would affect 0.00018 of the population and wondered if the bill was really worth the trouble it could cause.

Senator Gaunch said the bill addresses a lot of issues that are happening with SNAP and the people of West Virginia deserve to have be financially responsible.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass as amended.

Senate Bill 493 would provide an increase in compensation for conservation officers to be closer to what usual police officers receive.

The bill was reported to the floor of the Senate with the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 566 relates to claims against the state. The subcommittee on the bill met and suggested that the claims discussed in the bill be paid as moral obligation of the state.

The bill was reported to the floor of the Senate with the recommendation that it pass.

Senate Bill 453 would add classification and base salaries of certain civilian employees of the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory.

The bill was reported to the floor of the Senate with the recommendation that it pass.

A Senate Bill originating would exempt certain DHHR facilities from statewide purchasing requirements. These facilities are nursing homes and psychiatric facilities. The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 03:11 PM

House Judiciary Approves Bill to Make Fishing During Stocking Illegal

House Judiciary met today and discussed several bills. 

HB 2799 would prohibit the superintendent of schools from requiring a physical examination to be included to the application for a minor’s work permit unless it is required by the prospective employer. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

SB 239 would protect an employee’s wages or salaries from being withheld or diverted for political activities without the express, written authorization of the employee. The bill makes clear that it is unlawful for any person to coerce or intimidate any employee into making a political contribution or engaging in political activities. This bill was removed from the agenda after today’s session.

HB 3020 would provide that the penalty for hunting, trapping, or fishing on the lands of another, entering upon posted lands, or destroying posted land signs shall be equivalent to the penalty for criminal trespassing. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

HB 3101 would create a misdemeanor and criminal penalties for fishing within 200 feet of agency personnel while stocking fish into public waters. The bill was introduced to provide safety for stocking personnel, because some fishermen are casting their poles during the stocking process, which personnel at risk of being hooked. The bill will be reported to the floor with the recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2794 would require proof of mailing of notices to debtors that consumers are represented by legal counsel. This is to have concrete evidence that notification was given.

HB 2869 would provide that certain state employees may be granted a leave of absence with pay while providing assistance as an essential member of an emergency aid provider during a declared state of emergency. The bill will be reported to the full House with the recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2548 would allow non-intoxicating beer licensees to have speakers outside of licensed premises as long as their use does not disturb the peace and quietude of the community where the business is located. The bill will be reported to the House with the recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2654 would expand county commissions’ ability to dispose of county or district property and eliminate the requirement that property conveyed to volunteer fire department or volunteer ambulance service reverts back to county commission.

HB 2109 would include a municipal land bank as an agency within the West Virginia Land Reuse Agency Authorization Act and that a municipal land bank may acquire tax delinquent property. The bill will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass.

HB 2453 would expand the list of persons the Commissioner of Agriculture may license to grow or cultivate industrial hemp. It will be reported to the floor with recommendation that it do pass. 



Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 02:56 PM

Senate Banking Approves Bill Related to Insurance for Enzymatic Disorders

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee has approved a bill that would provide for mandatory insurance coverage for inherited enzymatic disorders.

The bill, SB 526, provides a list of the diagnosed conditions for which insurance coverage should extend.

A fiscal note from PEIA shows the estimated cost to the organization would be $145,800, and a fiscal note from the DHHR shows a fiscal impact of $1,028,568 to the state.

The committee requested that the DHHR refresh their fiscal note, since it was found to be inaccurate after committee proceedings.

DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples was also available to answer questions from committee members.

Kaycee Childress of the national Children's Medical Nutrition Alliance said the bill would specifically help low income families that normally cannot afford insurance policies to cover their children's rare diseases.

Childress said 20 other states currently have similar mandates in their laws.

She also said most commercial insurance companies believe the bill is a "slippery slope," since certain prescribed medical foods fall under coverage of the bill, instead of strictly medications.

Director of PEIA Ted Cheatham was present to answer questions from members of the committee.

Committee counsel also suggested a few mandates to bring clarity to certain provisions in the bill, which will be added to the bll as a single amendment which will then be incorporated into a committee substitute.

The bill will be referred to Senate Finance once reported to the floor.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 02:53 PM

House Government Organization Reports Eight Bills Including HB 2935

The House Committee on Government Organization reported eight bills out of the committee today.

House Bill 2515 would enact the West Virginia Monument and Memorial Protection Act of 2017. There is no current law to protect these monuments. The historical significance would only be noted if the monument or memorial has an age of 50 years.

Delegate Caputo (D-Marion) questioned council to see if there was a provision in the bill to relocate the memorials or monuments and was assured by council that it was.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2935 relates to state flood protection planning. This bill would create a legislative joint interim committee to study flood protection and report back to the legislature. It would also create a council of experts to study the West Virginia flooding to report to the committee.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2897 would raise the amount required for competitive bidding of construction contracts by the state and its subdivisions. 

James Meadows, general counsel from the purchasing division, said, "An agency that goes out to bid will be able to pick the alternates in the order they are listed. If the selection doesn't impact who would be the lowest bid, then they can pick in any order."

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2346 relates to motor vehicle plates. This bill would start a study as to if flat plates are more economically efficient than the embossed plates currently in use.

Delegate Marcum (D-Mingo) asked if the bill would take away the license plates making jobs away from inmates and was assured it wouldn't. He then spoke in support of the bill.

An amendment to the bill by Delegate Hamrick (R-Harrison) to create a second study to find information about the privatization of creating the plates. The privatization of the making of the plates has worked for other states and this study would find out if this is a good idea for West Virginia as well. The amendment was adopted.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass as amended.

House Bill 3053 relates to motor vehicle lighting. This clarifies that as long as 60 percent of LED lights are lit, it is considered as functional.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2949 would exempt specified Division of Natural Resources’ contracts for some replacement, repair or design for repairs to facilities from review and approval requirements. 

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2788 would allow military veterans who were honorably discharged with certain military ratings to qualify for examinations required of a probationary firefighter. The veterans would have to meet all other requirements as well.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass.

House Bill 2939 relates to the sale of items in the State Police Academy post exchange to the public. There was an amendment to the bill to clear up technical issues. The amendment was adopted.

The bill was reported to the floor with the recommendation that it pass as amended but first be referred to the Committee on Judiciary.




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Friday, 03/24/17 - 03:55 PM
›› Bill Relating to Sale of Tax Maps is Reported Out of Senate Government Organization
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Friday, 03/24/17 - 03:02 PM
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