Live Blog: Day 60 of the West Virginia Legislature

Saturday, April 8 marks the 60th and final day of the 83rd West Virginia Legislature's First Regular Session. 

West Virginia Public Broadcasting will live stream floor sessions via The West Virginia Channel and Ashton Marra will host live coverage of the final hours beginning at 8 p.m. As the day unfolds, keep refreshing this page for more and scroll past the video for the latest updates from our news team.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 11:55 p.m.

The Legislature has passed a budget, House Bill 2018, on a 63 to 37 vote. The bill was amended in the Senate just before midnight and the House of Delegates concurred with those amendments on a 63 to 37 vote. The bill now heads to Governor Justice’s desk for approval or veto.

This bill is not the budget proposal that the Governor presented during a 10 p.m. press conference where he said he had struck a deal with Senate President Mitch Carmichael.

Tune in on Monday morning during West Virginia Morning for a full recap of the 83rd Legislature's First Regular Session. 

Update: April 8, 2017 at 11:55 p.m.

Just before midnight, the West Virginia Senate passed an amended version of the Budget Bill. The bill, House Bill 2018, now heads to the West Virginia House of Delegates with an one-day extended budget session slated for Sunday, April 9. The House has adjourned until 12:15 a.m., while the Senate has gaveled out until 6 p.m. Sunday.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 11:55 p.m.

Members of the Senate have approved an amended version of the budget bill, House Bill 2018, with just minutes left in the legislative session.

As explained on the floor by Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall, the bill:

•    Includes $90 million from the Rainy Day Fund

•    Cuts the medical services line item in Medicaid by $48.7 million

•    Cuts West Virginia University and Marshall University by 9 percent

•    Cuts West Virginia State University and Blue Ridge Community Technical College by 2 percent

•    Cuts all other higher education institutions by 4 percent

•    Does not include the proposed 2 percent teacher pay raise or cuts to the school aid formula

•    Cuts Regional Education Service Agencies by $3.6 million

•    Cuts the Education Broadcasting Authority (West Virginia Public Broadcasting) by $1 million

The bill was approved on a 22-12, party line vote.

 

 

Update: April 8, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

Just two hours before the end of the 60th and final day of the West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice said he and Senate President Mitch Carmichael have struck a deal to run a wide-ranging revenue bill that would help push through a budget before midnight.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 10:10 p.m.

A bill to increase penalties for littering is headed to Gov. Jim Justice for a signature.

In West Virginia, littering on public or private property is already a misdemeanor. House Bill 2303 increases the fines and community service hours associated with the crime. 

The House concurred with two Senate amendments – a title amendment, as well as one that adds provisions for littering in state waters, such as rivers, lakes or streams.

Fines in the bill are subject to the amount of trash a person disposes of improperly and that penalty would be decided by a judge, ranging from $100 to $10,000. The maximum amount of community service hours also increases in the bill to 200 hours, with a minimum requirement of 8 hours.

In the Senate’s amendment, the fines for littering in waterways can range anywhere from $500 to $30,000, depending on the amount. A person could also face jail time for littering in waterways.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 9:10 p.m.

House Bill 2620, creating the West Virginia Drug Overdose Monitoring Act, would provide an office to gather data about the drug epidemic in West Virginia. Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump called that office a “hub.”

Sen. Mike Woelfel said it is time for the Legislature to take up the torch and solve the drug problem in West Virginia.

"It's breaking down the fabric of our entire state," said Woelfel in a speech on the floor before the bill went up for a vote.

The Senate ultimately suspended rules and read the bill three times in one day so it could come to a vote. The bill passed unanimously, 34-0.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 7:59 p.m.

The House has concurred with the Senate's amendments to Senate Joint Resolution 6, which establishes the Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017.

This resolution was introduced on behalf of Governor Justice. It amends the state Constitution, and authorizes the Legislature to issue and sell state bonds not exceeding an aggregate amount of $1.6 billion.

The proceeds of those bonds would be issued and sold over a four-year period and money would be used for improvement and construction of state roads and bridges.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 6:50 p.m.

The House of Delegates has concurred with the Senate’s amendment for House Bill 2935, a bill that relates to state flood protection planning. It now heads to Governor Justice.

This bill was introduced by House Speaker Tim Armstead.

It creates a state Flood Protection Planning Council made up of representatives from the Division of Natural Resources, state Conservation Agency, Department of Environmental Protection and others. Its chair would be required to report quarterly to a new interim legislative committee on flooding, called the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding.

The bill comes as a result of the June 2016 flooding that left 23 West Virginians dead and thousands homeless. Over nine months later, those communities are still recovering.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 5:20 p.m.

Current West Virginia law states that a person between the ages of 14 and 17 cannot use an indoor tanning bed without parent permission. The Senate took up House Bill 2520, which would prohibit the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18.

Sen. Ron Stollings is a physician and spoke up in support of the bill. Sen. Richard Ojeda also said he would support the bill because his young daughter spent some time in a tanning bed not long ago and her results concerned him.

“She told me she laid in the tanning bed for a short period of time and, her back, it literally looked like someone took a lighter and burned the skin off her back. It scabbed up,” said Ojeda.

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 28 to 6 and now heads to the House of Delegates for final approval.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 3:10 p.m.

 After returning from recess at 2:30 pm the Senate took up House Bill 2196, which would allow students enrolled in private schools or home schooled to participate in public school athletics. 

If a student attends a private school or is home schooled and does not have the opportunity to participate in certain sports, does have the opportunity to do so in public schools.

Republican Sen. Patricia Rucker stood up in support of the bill and says she believes this is an opportunity for students to participate in sports which otherwise may not get the opportunity to.

The bill passed with a vote of 23 to 10 with one Senator abstaining.

Update: April 8, 2017 at 2:45 p.m.

When the House of Delegates reconvened Saturday afternoon, the chamber passed a bill to expand broadband access across the state. 

House Bill 3093 creates a Broadband Enhancement Council to be established within the state Department of Commerce. That group would be tasked with providing administrative, personnel and technical support services to the communities that seek broadband expansion on their own.

 Update: April 8, 2017 at 2:08 p.m.

As promised earlier Saturday, Governor Jim Justice has announced a veto of SB 437, which would have eliminated the West Virginia Greyhound Breeders Development Fund. He cited the loss of 1,700 jobs in the veto message as reason for the action. 

 Update: April 8, 2017 at 1:27 p.m.

Among the bills passes during the Senate’s first floor session of the day, the chamber passed HB 2002 on a 28 to 6 vote, which was amended earlier by the chamber’s Health and Human Resources Committee.

 Young girls would have protections in the situation where they must have an abortion and when notifying parents could present danger to the girl. In these situations, it could be ruled that parents would not have to be notified. Senators said this would benefit the girls in situations where potential or past abuse is indicated.

The committee amendment makes technical changes to the bill, further defining the term "abortion", as well as laying out specific procedures for a physician to notify the parent prior to the abortion. It also creates a clause that allows the physician to determine whether waiving that notification is appropriate.

An amendment offered by Sen. Corey Palumbo, which would have allowed physicians to be an advocate for young girls in court, failed on a vote of 12 to 22.

During a floor speech Sen. Ron Stollings noted that the bill was created to address four cases that have occurred in the state. 

 Update: April 8, 2017 at 12:35 p.m.

 The House of Delegates started off the final day of the 2017 state Legislative session slowly. After the passage of their budget bill, House Bill 2018, earlier in the week, the chamber has finished much of their business already.

In their morning floor session, the House took up Senate messages, made conference committee assignments, and any other unfinished business. During a rules committee prior to the floor session, the body moved Senate Bills 25 and 219 from the House Calendar over to the Special Calendar, or the active calendar, on third reading and up for a vote.

 Senate Bill 25 creates a farm-to-food bank tax credit. It establishes a credit against personal and corporate income taxes for farmers who donate edible agricultural products to food banks and other nonprofit food programs that serve low-income people. The bill passed unanimously without debate.

 Senate Bill 219 relates to conspiracy to commit crimes under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This bill makes it a felony if someone conspires with someone who intends to manufacture, deliver, or possess highly addictive and illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine. House Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, said the bill is intended to catch kingpins or drug lords.

 Some delegates expressed concern, however, that after the body passed the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act the bill would end up protecting those drug traffickers bringing in “car loads” of marijuana.

 Del. Shott argued, however, the bill is only aimed at capturing those drug dealers who are trafficking highly addictive and illegal substances.

 Senate Bill 219 passed, 91 to 9.

 The House is scheduled to reconvene on the floor at 1 p.m. The lower chamber's Rules Committee is slated to meet at 12:45 p.m.

 

Beginning his day in Wheeling, Governor Jim Justice vowed to veto SB 437, which would have discontinued the West Virginia Greyhound Breeders Development Fund. 

The Senate gaveled in this morning shortly after 11 this morning and has been taking up House messages, making conference committee assignments and passing bills.