Live Blog: The 2016 Legislature's Final Hours

Mar 12, 2016

Live video of the floor sessions will be available via the West Virginia Channel. Also be sure to follow along with our news team on Twitter @wvpublicnews

For a look back on what's happened this session, take a look at this season's episodes of The Legislature Today.

Update: Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 1:15 a.m.

Over the next two days, lawmakers will focus solely on the state's budget. With a revenue deficit predicted to be more than $450 million in 2017, Senators and Delegates appear to be forced to choose to either raise revenues, cuts agencies, or dip into the state's Rainy Day fund to balance the budget. Senate President Bill Cole predicts they will need to do all three, but the final work won't come until a special session later.

Most of the work attempting to find a budget solution before Tuesday will come in a conference committee made up of ten members, five from each chamber. In the Senate, three Republicans and two Democrats make up the conferees, but in the House, Speaker Tim Armstead chose to appoint only one Democrat to the budget conference committee, leaving Minority Leader Tim Miley with some harsh criticisms of the Speaker's decision.

Update: Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 12:15 a.m.

As the 2016 Regular Session of the West Virginia Legislature came to a close, House Speaker Tim Armstead recaps the accomplishments he feels the House of Delegates achieved this session and discusses the budget challenges ahead. 

Update: Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 12:01 a.m.

Both the House and Senate have adjourned.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 11:26 p.m.

The Senate has also made conferee appointments for the budget bill, SB 269:

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 11:26 p.m.

The House has appointed conferees for SB 269, the budget bill:

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10:59 p.m.

Senators have also approved a compromised version of the voter ID bill. The chamber adopted House Bill 4013 on a vote of 26-8.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10:15 p.m.

The House of Delegates passed House Bill 4013, the voter ID bill after it was sent to a conference committee. The bill passed in the chamber 77 to 21 with no debate. The conference committee's amended version requires voters show some form of identification before casting a ballot. Some of the verifying documents have been removed from the list, including a paycheck or credit card, but documents like a government issued ID, a health insurance card, or a bank issued debit card were kept. The bill also keeps the Senate's automatic voter registration process required to be set up at the Division of Motor Vehicles. The bill now goes to Governor Tomblin for a possible signature.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 9:56 p.m.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 9:15 p.m.

On the final night of the legislative session, both chambers have approved balanced budgets based on the bill passed in their own chambers, but many pieces of legislation have been lost along the way in the opposite chamber. Governor Tomblin says lawmakers have only two choices: to drastically cut state agencies or come back during a special session to increase revenues. Tomblin discusses what those agency cuts would mean for West Virginia.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 8:43 p.m.

After some debate, the House of Delegates has agreed with a Senate amendment to House Bill 4009, which allows counties to propose and fund road projects by imposing a sales tax that would not exceed 1 percent. The Senate’s amendment changes the county referendum for the tax from 60 percent to 50 percent. HB 4009 passed in the House after adopting the Senate amendment 57 to 40.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 7:35 p.m.

Senators voted 27-4 to agree to the House's additional amendments to a bill that started as a Common Core repeal. The bill now prohibits the continued use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, requires a panel of experts in English, math and engineering review the current West Virginia College and Career Ready Standards and recommend changes to the state Board of Education, and says students can only be submitted to a standardized test in grades 3-8 and 11.

  

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 6:25 p.m.

A conference committee has adopted an amended version of the bill to require voters show some form of identification before casting a ballot. The conferees on House Bill 4013 removed some of the verifying documents from the list, including a paycheck or credit card, but kept documents like a government issued ID- even if it does not include a photograph- a health insurance card and a bank issued debit card. The bill also keeps the Senate's automatic voter registration process required to be set up at the Division of Motor Vehicles. Democratic Sen. Corey Palumbo championed the measure to expand the list of verifying documents. He reacted to the amendments after the conference committee's final vote. 

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 6:07 p.m.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 5:58 p.m.

The House of Delegates concurred on the Senate’s amendment to House Bill 4334. This bill expands the authority given to nurse practitioners when prescribing medication. The bill permits the signature of a nurse practitioner to have the same force and effect as a physician when it pertains to signing prescriptions. The House also passed an additional amendment which clarifies that the governor appoints the council that will oversee and monitor the APRN's

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 5:36 p.m.

Senators have adopted a resolution, HCR 36, that calls for an Article 5 Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution for a singular purpose: to require Congress to balance the federal budget except in times of national emergency.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 5:19 p.m.

Senate Bill 298--which would move alcohol sales in restaurants, private clubs, wineries and distilleries on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m.--has passed the final needed approval in the House. The bill would only allow for on-premise consumption and also requires each county to pass a referendum to allow for the move of the sale time. It now heads to Governor Tomblin's desk for possible signature. 

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 4:52 p.m.

Senators have killed a bill that would have ended the Licensed Racetrack Modernization Fund, pulling $9 million annually back into the general revenue budget. Before the vote, Sen. Chris Walters successfully amended the bill to take only half of the money, about $4.5 million, annually until 2020 when the fund is set to expire. Even with the amendment, Senators voted down the bill that was presented on behalf of Governor Tomblin.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 4:36 p.m.

A protest is occurring outside the Capitol today with protesters rallying against the GOP-led legislative agenda this session. 

 

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 4:22 p.m.

In a conference committee for Senate Bill 597, parties from the House and Senate agreed on an amendment to the bill that excluded addressing the Health Care Authority, and focused on issues regarding the merger of Cabell-Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center. The Senate's original amendments to the bill included provisions to reorganize the Health Care Authority, which is currently part of the Department of Health and Human Resources. The agreed-upon version of Senate Bill 597 is scheduled to return to both chambers to be considered for passage.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 4:06 p.m.

As of 4 p.m., seven bills have been sent to conference committees. They are:

  • HB 4013, Requiring a person desiring to vote to present documentation identifying the voter
  • HB 4174, Exempting activity at indoor shooting ranges from the prohibition of shooting or discharging a firearm within five hundred feet of any church or dwelling house
  • SB 13, Increasing penalties for overtaking and passing stopped school buses
  • SB 283, Creating crime when fire is caused by operation of a clandestine drug laboratory
  • SB 343 Authorizing prosecuting attorneys designate law-enforcement officers and investigators as custodians of records
  • SB 573, Prohibiting municipal annexation which would result in unincorporated territory within municipality
  • SB 579, Eliminating WV Port Authority

The deadline for conference committees to submit necessary paperwork to the clerks' desks is 8 p.m.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 3:27 p.m.

Senators have delayed putting HB 4271 to a vote. The bill  would get rid of the Licensed Racetrack Modernization Fund. The bill pulls the $9 million committed annually to the fund, used to update casino games in the state's four casinos, in order to help balance the budget.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 2:47 p.m.

The Senate is currently in session, while the House of Delegates is in recess until 4 p.m.

During their most recent floor session, the House of Delegates concurred with Senate amendments and passed 13 bills. The House also appointed conference committees for HB 4013 (Voter ID) and HB 4174 (Exempting activity at indoor shooting ranges from the prohibition of shooting or discharging a firearm within five hundred feet of any church or dwelling house). 

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 1:35 p.m.

The House of Delegates has gaveled back in while the Senate is now in recess until 2 p.m.

Moments ago, members of the Senate confirmed 454 of Governor Tomblin's appointments for various state boards. On Wednesday, the Senate Confirmations Committee had dropped seven of the nominees from consideration because of their ties to the Democratic Party.

 

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 11:55 a.m.

Members of the West Virginia Senate have voted unanimously to concur with the House amendments to Senate Bill 298, the brunch bill. The bill will allow voters to decide if restaurants, distilleries and wineries should be allowed to sell alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings. After amending the title, the bill heads back to the House for an additional vote before heading to Governor Tomblin for a possible signature.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 11:50 a.m.

The House of Delegates has recessed until 1 p.m.

During the morning floor session, The House of Delegates agreed to adopt the Senate's amendments to a bill that would repeal the state’s Common Core education standards and aligned standardized tests. Delegates, however, further amended the bill to remove the requirement to submit high school students to a standardized test. The House also removed the requirement for the West Virginia Board of Education to set assessment standards.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 11:03 a.m.

Senate President Bill Cole gaveled in his chamber about 10 minutes before 11. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael spoke with Ashton Marra before the chamber gaveled in about the final day of the regular session. Carmichael discusses the looming budget issues as well as a political tiff earlier this week when the GOP removed seven names from the Governor's list of appointees to various state boards.

In the House, delegates have refused to concur with Senate's amendments to the Voter ID bill. Senators had expanded the list of documents a voter could show at the polls to identify themselves. At this time, no conference committee has been appointed.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10:45 a.m.

The House of Delegates gaveled in just after 10:30 this morning, while the Senate has yet to convene.

Update: Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 9:50 a.m.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate are expected to gavel in at 10 a.m. Saturday to begin the 60th and final day of the 2016 session. This post will have rolling updates throughout the day until the Legislature adjourns sine die at midnight.