Politics
10:02 am
Sat March 8, 2014

The Legislature Today: Final Hours Live Blog

At midnight on Saturday, March 8, The 81st West Virginia Legislature will adjourn. This post will be the home for The Legislature Today's online coverage right up until the final moments.

News Director Beth Vorhees, Senate Reporter Ashton Marra, House Reporter Aaron Payne, and Digital Editor Dave Mistich will curate this post by aggregating tweets, posting audio of important moments on the chamber floors.

Be sure to keep refreshing this page to see the latest.

Updated at 12:01 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

As the Legislature adjourns at midnight as is required on Day 60 by order of the State Constitution, the House of Delegates was at a total standstill in the final moments.

Among the bills that didn't make it were SB 6, which aimed to combat meth manufacturing by further regulating the sale of pseudoephedrine. Also, the "haircut" budget bill and a bill that would allow for pay raises for county officials, failed to make it through.

However, over in the Senate, many bills were passed in the final moments, As is exampled by this video from Ashton Marra from the floor.

Updated at 11:35 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

Many bills that were widely discussed this session are being completed in the final hour of the Legislature's 2014 Regular Session, including the teacher pay raise bill.

As Ashton Marra reports, the Senate decided to concur with the House amendments to the bill. The most notable change is that it gives teachers an across the board $1,000 pay raise. The bill heads to Gov. Tomblin's desk for his signature.  Senators Carmichael and McCabe voted nay on the bill.

Here's audio of the moments leading up to the passage of that bill.

Also, the House received conference adoption of HB 4298 relating to the number of members and qualifications for state Ethics Commission. The bill is now complete and heads to Gov. Tomblin.

Del. Mark Hunt (D) Kanawha County presents the conference committee report on that bill:

 

Credit Ashton Marra

Updated at 11:14 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The Senate has passed HB 4283, which would increase the minimum wage by $1.50 over the course of two years. The bill heads to Gov. Tomblin for his signature.

Here's audio of the moments leading up to the passage of the bill.

Also, the Senate did not concur with the House's changes to SB 357, which would reclassify counties and  provide the option for a $7,000 salary increase for county elected officials.

Updated at 10:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

With only an hour left before the West Virginia Legislature adjourns, Senate reporter Ashton Marra has sent in the following report:

The Future Fund was passed with the Senate concurring with the House's amendments to the bill with a vote of 32-2.

The Senate has adopted conference reports on the following bills:

  • SB 447, Providing teachers determine use of time during planning period
  • HB 4208, Banning synthetic hallucinogens
  • HB 4236, Sexual assault nurse examination network

Updated at 10:43 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

House reporter Aaron Payne just dispatched in the following report:

The House is in recess. Here's some of the bills passed through in the recent portion of the session:

  • Senate amended version of HB 4588, protecting unborn children who are capable of experiencing pain passes by a vote of 83-15.
  • The Senate amended version of the House amended version of the Water Resource Protection Act bill passes unanimously.
  • Senate amended version of HB 4360, relating to consumer credit protection from “Zombie Debt” passes by a vote of 98-0.
  • Senate amended version of HB 4343, West Virginia Project LauchPad Act passes by a vote of 90-8.
  • Senate amended (the amendments were technical in nature) version of HB 4335, relating to a child's right to nurse passes by a vote of 97-1.
  • Senate amended version of HB 4184, relating to the WV Tourism Development Act passes by a vote of 85-13.

However, one bill of note the House refused to concur with the Senate amendments on was HB4286, the Captive Cervid Farming Act.
 

Updated at 10:25 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

A bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks has been completed. The House decided to concur with the Senate's changes to the bill. It now goes to Governor for his signature.

Del. Harry Keith White details the senate changes to House Bill 4588, the unborn child protection act.

The House also received conference committee reports on bills that went through that process, including HB 4236, which deals with training of nurses who collect evidence in sexual assault cases.
 

Del. Barbara Fleischauer provides the conference committee report on the bill:
 

However, many controversial bills that were expected to come down to the wire appear to be doing so, including:

  • HB 4283, increasing the minimum wage
  • SB 461, Creating Future Fund

The Senate now is debating the House's changes to the Future Fund bill.

Updated at 10:10 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The bill was in response to the Elk River Chemical Spill by Freedom Industries on January 9. The spill of MCHM tained the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians. For more on that story, see West Virginia Public Broadcasting's comprehensive coverage.

Updated at 9:50 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The Senate is now standing in recess until 10 p.m., during a brief stint on the floor, they completed 10 bills, including:

  • SB 88, Relating to claims for total loss and debris removal proceeds under farmers' mutual fire insurance companies
  • SB 253, Clarifying code for Community-Based Pilot Demonstration Project to Improve Outcomes for At-Risk Youth
  • SB 267, Ensuring state courts' jurisdiction of fraudulent or unauthorized purchasing card use
  • SB 315, Clarifying use of certain funds under Military Authority Act
  • SB 350, Requiring Agriculture Commissioner propose legislative rules for Rural Rehabilitation Loan Program
  • SB 353, Relating to timber theft in state forests
  • SB 356, Relating to purchasing reforms
  • SB 359, Removing hand canvassing requirements of electronic voting machines
  • SB 365, Excepting certain Ethics Act provisions for elected conservation district supervisors
  • SB 380, Redefining "all-terrain and utility terrain vehicles"

Across the rotunda, the House is also passing a slew of bills themselves, we'll have a recap of what they covered in a moment.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

From Senate reporter Ashton Marra on HB 4411 (frack waste), which also cleared conference committee:

  • 7 facilities are in the process of apply for certificate of need from Public Service Commission
  • Bill now says only those 7 can apply for permit to have landfills that accept the waste, by September of 2014 must have completed cells that only take drilling waste
  • Cannot mix with municipal waste
  • $1 fee will be assessed on every ton collected
  • First $750k of that fee goes to study on material collected and has to be reported to Joint Committee on Government Finance
  • All monies collected after that mark go to fixing county roads where drilling occurs.

Updated at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

Senators and delegates have reached a conclusion on SB 6. But it seems there was much chaos in meeting the 9 p.m. deadline for conference committee reports.

Updated at 8:57 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The deadline for conference committee reports is 9 p.m. and many widely discussed bills are currently being worked in that phase of the legislative process.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

Less than four hours remain in the session, and the House just passed SB 461, creating a future fund. Del. Michael Folk (R-Berkley) argued for his amendment about the state's pension funds during debate on the bill.

Other widely debated and discussed bills have yet to be completed. They include:

  • SB 6, regulating sale of drug products used in manufacture of     methamphetamine   
  • SB 373, protecting water resources
  • HB 4283, increasing the minimum wage
  • HB 4411, allowing the disposal of drill cuttings and associated drilling waste generated from well sites in commercial solid waste facilities
  • HB 4588, protecting unborn children who are capable of experiencing pain by prohibiting abortions after twenty weeks

Updated at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

SJR 14, which proposed a constitutional amendment known as Future Fund Amendment was rejected by a vote of 48-45. The resolution needed two-thirds of members voting in the affirmative to pass.

Here's debate on the House floor before the Future Fund Amendment failed.

The House also appointed conference committees for three bills:

  • HB 4208, banning synthetic hallucinogens
  • HB 4411, allowing the disposal of drill cuttings and associated drilling waste generated from well sites in commercial solid waste facilities
  • SB 6, relating to the sale of pseuodoephedrine

Updated at 7:25 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

SJR 12, proposing constitutional amendment designated Protecting and Conserving West Virginia's Water Resources for the Use and Benefit of its Citizens Amendment was rejected by a vote of 43-54. The resolution was hotly debated on the House floor:

Delegates Walter, Kump, Armstead, and Skinner speak about the resolution before it fails.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House is holding significant and lengthy debate on SJR 12, which proposes a constitutional amendment known as 'Protecting and Conserving West Virginia's Water Resources for the Use and Benefit of its Citizens Amendment'. This amendment would go on the ballot in November 2014.

Conference committees are also now working to work out the details on various bills:

A bill to reform the Ethics Commission has also been finalized in conference committee. The commission will go from 7 to 9 members and will lose an agriculture representative and replace that person with someone from rural area. The Ethics Commission will also lose a lobbyist representative. Four citizen members will sit on the commission.

Updated at 6:50 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The Senate has appointed conference committees for the following bills:

  • HB 4208, banning synthetic hallucinogens
  • HB 4411, allowing the disposal of drill cuttings and associated drilling waste generated from well sites in commercial solid waste facilities
  • HB 4289, changing the experience requirements of the composition of the members of the West Virginia Ethics Commission

The Senate will recess until 7:15 to allow conference committees to work these bills.

The House is also now in session. The House Rules Committee moved 6 bills on Third Reading from the inactive calendar to the active calendar on Third Reading and passed all of them. They were:

  • Com. Sub. for SB 12 -Relating to expedited partner therapy treatment
  • Com. Sub. for SB 278 -Redefining "scrap metal"
  • SB 325 -Providing State Fire Marshal serve at will and pleasure of Fire Commission
  • SB 375 -Excluding certain personal property from TIF assessment
  • Com. Sub. for SB 393 -Amending funding levels and date Governor may borrow from Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund
  • SB 593 -Authorizing issuance of limited lines travel insurance producer license

Updated at 5:54 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

From House Reporter Aaron Payne:

During the House's second stint on the floor during the final day, delegates received Senate messages of amended House bills and concurred with some but refused on others. The following bills will go to conference committee:

  • HB 4283, raising the minimum wage
  • HB 4208, banning synthetic hallucinogens
  • HB 4411, allowing the disposal of drill cuttings and associated drilling waste generated from well sites in commercial solid waste facilities
  • HB 4289, changing the experience requirements of the composition of the members of the West Virginia Ethics Commission

When the House returns from recess, the items put off until later will also come up, including:

  • SB 204, relating to crime victims compensation awards
  • SB 461, Creating the Future Fund
  • SJR 12, proposing constitutional amendment designated Protecting and Conserving West Virginia’s Water Resources for the use and Benefit of its Citizens Amendment
  • SJR 14, proposing constitutional amendment designated Future Fund Amendment

The House is scheduled to reconvene at 6:05 p.m.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House is now in recess, after passing many bills on Third Reading during their second time on the floor during the final day.

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene at 5:30 p.m. to receive reports from the House and announce conference committees.

Updated at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

For nearly an hour, House of Delegates debated SB 379, which would reclassify counties and provide the option to increase salaries of elected officials by $7,000. Inevitably, the bill passed by a margin of 73-25. The bill now heads back to the Senate for their approval of the House's changes.

Also, the House has refused to concur with Senate changes to two bills:

  • HB 4208, banning synthetic hallucinogens
  • HB 4411, allowing the disposal of drill cuttings generated from well sites

The House also just passed SB 391, which would provide a $1,000 raise for teachers and a 2% salary increase for service personnel. The bill passed 98-0 with two members not voting. The bill now heads back to the Senate for approval of the House's changes.

Discussion on the House floor about the teacher pay raise bill.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House of Delegates has passed SB 317, which would  limit municipalities' power to restrict the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, transport, sale and storage of certain weapons and ammunition.

The bill would also allow municipalities to ban firearms in municipally-owned recreation centers, but not if the firearm is owned by someone with a concealed carry permit. 

The bill, which passed the House by a 92-5 margin, has been completed and awaits the Governor's signature.

However, Del. Meshea Poore argued against the bill, saying there is a need to protect children:

Del. Meshea Poore asks questions of House Judiciary Chair Tim Manchin regarding SB 317 and then gives a floor speech about the bill.

Updated at 3:12 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House has passed the SB 306, which authorizes the state budget. The bill awaits Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's signature.

However, before the bill passed Del. Eric Nelson, (R-Kanawha) and Del. Jim Morgan (D-Cabell) expressed concerns over the budget dipping into the Rainy Day Fund and declining tax revenues.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The Senate just passed HB 4184 with a vote of 22-10. The bill extends the tourism development tax credit to 2019 but was amended yesterday adding specific language that credit can apply to a medical facility located adjacent to a historic hotel. A doctor is proposing the building of a facility near the Greenbrier to draw in professional athletes for surgeries.

  • Many of the nay votes because felt were giving justice tax credits on specific project and opportunity not available to the rest of the state.
  • Sen. Roman Prezioso argued the bill is narrowly written so the state can control the amount of tax credits they are giving.

Updated at 2:47 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House of Delegates refuses to concur with Senate amendments to HB 4283, which would increase the minimum wage. The Senate amended the bill so that the increase would take place over the course of three years rather than two years in the original version of the bill. 

Updated at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The Senate just passed HB 4588, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill passed 29-5. But before and after the bill passed there were some intense moments.

Sen. Erik Wells asked for all bills on Third Reading to be read in their entirety. Here's the Senate clerk reading the full text of the bill.


After the bill passed, Wells gave this speech on the floor.

He also stated that he feels that the bill will likely be struck down by the Supreme Court:

Sen. Donald Cookman also gave a speech on the floor following the passage of the abortion bill. Cookman spoke on the health and wellness of the state's children as a former circuit judge.

Updated at 1:37 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

From House Reporter Aaron Payne:

In House's first floor session on Day 60, delegates approved several Senate amended versions of their bills including:

  • H.B. 4318, continuing education of veterans’ mental health
  • H.B. 4217, relating to Medicaid reports to the legislature
  • H.B. 4147, relating to the governor's powers during a declared "State of Preparedness"

The House did refuse to concur on Senate amendment to a few bills including:

  • H.B. 4236, sexual assault nurse examination network
  • H.B. 4298, changing the experience requirements of the composition of the members of the West Virginia Ethics Commission
  • H.B. 4619, authorizing innovation school districts

These bills will head to committee conferences.

The House voted on two bills on third reading, the more prevalent one being SB 6, regulating sale of drug products used in manufacture of methamphetamine. An amendment was approved that would give counties powers to make pseudoephedrine prescription only but this mandate would require a majority vote by citizens.

Supporters of the prescription only measure supported passage of the bill because it was “better than what we had last year and the year before,” Delegate Bill Hamilton said.

SB 6 was passed by a vote of 63-34 and heads back to the Senate.

Updated at 1:23 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

In an attempt to stall debate on a bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Sen. Erik Wells asked that all bills on Third Reading be read in their entirety.

Sen. Erik Wells (D) Kanawha asks that all bills on third reading be read in their entirety.

Updated at 1:18 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

Senators recognized Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Executive Director Dr. Rahul Gupta for his work and guidance following the Jan. 9 chemical spill by Freedom Industries and subsequent water crisis that affected 300,000 West Virginians across nine counties.

Listen as Senators John Unger and Brooks McCabe recognize Dr. Gupta for his work.

Credit Ashton Marra

In the House, SB 6, relating to the sale of pseudoephedrine, passed 63-34. A debate on the floor lasted more than an hour. Here's the latest status of the bill and other info.

  • The bill would require county commissions to vote on whether or not a prescription would be needed to acquire pseudoephedrine.
  • The bill allows people to purchase "tamper resistant" pseudoephedrine-based products without a prescription. Those products make it more difficult to convert the drug in the meth-making process.
  • However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says it's not impossible to use these tamper resistant products to make meth.

Updated at 12:46 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

Two major bills of the session are being handled in the noon hour.

The Senate unanimously approved SB 373 after clarifying language to make sure that swimming pools would not be considered above ground storage tanks. That bill will now be passed back over to the House.

In the House, the bill relating to sales of pseudoephedrine is still being debated. Most of the debate is focusing on whether or not counties should have the power to make sales of the drug available only by prescription.

Updated at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The Senate has now gaveled in. Here's a look at their list of business to start the day.

And here's a quick video of girls from The Greenbrier Academy Drum
Ensemble opening the final day in the Senate:

Updated at 10:44 a.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House of Delegates gaveled in just before 10:30 and is taking up resolutions.

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated at 10:09 a.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014:

The House of Delegates was scheduled to gavel in at 10 a.m., but has yet to do so. The chamber has many bills on Third Reading today, as well as Senate Joint Resolutions relating to the establishment of a Future Fund and also protecting water resources.

The Senate's first floor session is scheduled for 11 a.m.

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