Live Blog: Day 60 of the 2018 West Virginia Legislative Session

Mar 10, 2018

Saturday, March 10, marked the 60th and final day of the 83rd West Virginia Legislature's Second Regular Session. 

Update: March 11, 2018 at 12:31 a.m.

House Bill 4345, which would expand West Virginia’s medical marijuana law by increasing the number of dispensaries and growers, and providing for banking facilities related to the industry, died in the final minutes of the 2018 state legislative session. House leadership cited procedural delays in not bringing the bill up for a vote on the floor. The Senate had passed HB 4345 at about 6:30 Saturday evening.

Advocates of the bill, including lead sponsor Del. Riley Moore -- as well as those who sit on the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board -- said that the failure of the bill effectively kills the program, which is slated to begin on July 1, 2019.

Statehouse reporters spoke with Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, a major advocate of medical marijuana in West Virginia.

Photo credit: Will Price/West Virginia Legislative Photography

Update: March 11, 2018 at 12:06 a.m.

The 83rd West Virginia Legislature's Second Regular Session has adjourned sine die.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 11:37 p.m.

House Bill 4001, the SNAP work bill, is now on its way to the governor. The bill expands work requirements for recipients of food benefits through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill requires able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have dependents and who are receiving SNAP benefits, to document 20 hours of work, workforce training or volunteerism per week. It was sent to a conference committee, where lawmakers agreed counties would be ineligible to make use of the federal waiver -- regardless of employment opportunities -- after October 1, 2022

Update: March 10, 2018 at 11:19 p.m.

Lawmakers approved Senate Joint Resolution 3, which creates a Judicial Budget Oversight Amendment. With the approval of West Virginia voters, the constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature the authority to reduce items in the budget related to the judiciary beginning in 2021. The resolution was sent to a conference committee, where lawmakers agreed that the West Virginia Legislature will be able to decrease the total general revenue appropriations to the judiciary up to 15 percent of that branch’s last-enacted budget. Each chamber of the Legislature would require a two-thirds majority to approve the judicial budget reductions.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 5:23 p.m.

The House has concurred with Senate amendments to House Bill 4338, which consolidates the powers and authority of the Divisions of Administrative Services, and Corrections and Rehabilitation of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. This was a department-drafted bill. Representatives from DMAPS said it would save their department money and help them use their facilities and staff more efficiently. The bill creates the Bureau of Prisons and Jails, the Bureau of Juvenile Services, the Bureau of Community Corrections, and the Regional Jail and Corrections Authority Board. The institutions will be controlled by the Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

The House has concurred with Senate amendments to House Bill 4006, which dissolves the Department of Education and the Arts. It also eliminates the position of its secretary held by Gayle Manchin, wife of Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. The bill moves the Division of Culture and History and Division of Rehabilitation Services to Department of Commerce; making the Educational Broadcasting Authority and Library Commission independent agencies within the executive branch. West Virginia Public Broadcasting is, essentially, the Educational Broadcasting Authority. The bill will soon head to the Governor.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 3:25 p.m.

The Senate refused to recede its position on House Bill 4001 -- the SNAP bill. It's now been sent to a conference committee.

The Senate amended the bill to allow the Department of Health and Human Resources to continue to make use of the federal waiver for the work requirements. The House did not support the amendment.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 2:20 p.m.

Lawmakers have completed action on House Bill 4002, which will create 100 single-member districts in the Legislature's lower chamber following the 2020 U.S. Census. Proposed amendments to the bill would have created an independent committee tasked to draw the districts. However, with those failed efforts, lawmakers themselves will be responsible for drawing the map. The House concurred with an amendment brought forth by the Senate Judiciary Committee and adopted by the entire Senate earlier this week.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 1:50 p.m.

Statehouse reporters spoke with Sen. Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, on the passage of the Budget Bill - SB 152.

"[This] is the largest pay increase in history, no tax increases, didn't touch the Governor's $58 million of revised revenue estimates...it's a new day in West Virginia." -- Sen. Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley.

There were several cuts made to this year's budget that the governor had initially requested to be included.

"They were casualties, so to speak," Blair noted, "on what we were dealing with, with the teachers strike, and all that, and the teachers deserve a pay raise; nobody argued about that; we were all in agreement from that standpoint; where we was, was how to pay for it."

Funding for Medicaid has been reduced by $10 million in the 2019 budget.

Photo credit: Will Price/West Virginia Legislative Photography

Update: March 10, 2018 at 12:26 p.m.

The Senate has concurred to the House of Delegates' amendments to the budget bill, SB 152.

Some Senate Democrats, like Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, reminded the body of Governor Jim Justice's proposed $58 million in adjusted revenue estimates that was not incorporated into the budget bill. Democrats felt it should have been.

The $4.38 billion spending plan accounts for an across-the-board average 5 percent pay raise for all public employees and makes cuts to programs that had earlier seen proposed increases by Gov. Jim Justice. The budget will allow for $156 million in spending as compared to the previous fiscal year.

Earlier in the week, a separate bill, HB 4145, was finalized and ended a nine-day statewide school employees walkout. It offers the raise to teachers, service personnel and state police. Salary increases for the remainder of public employees (managed in SB 152) is a result of increases to personnel line items for each state agency.

Update: March 10, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

The House of Delegates has refused to concur with the Senate's amendments on HB 4001. This bill would create workforce requirements for some recipients of food benefits through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

As it passed the House, the bill requires able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have dependents and who are receiving SNAP benefits, to document 20 hours of work, workforce training or volunteerism per week.

An amendment to the bill from the Senate Health Committee would allow the Department of Health and Human Resources to continue to make use of the federal waiver for the work requirements into and beyond the year 2021.