The Legislature Today

Beginning January 13, 2014, airs weeknights at 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on WV PBS. Weekdays at 6:00 a.m. on WVPBS.2. Also weekdays at 6:30 p.m. on WV Public Radio.

The Legislature Today is West Virginia's source for daily legislative news and information.  The only live television program covering the West Virginia Legislature, the broadcast features reports from the Senate, House and committee meetings with in-depth interviews and analysis of the legislative process in West Virginia.

Guests for the week of March 3, 2014:

March 3:     Ted Boettner,  West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy

March 4:     E. Gordon Gee, West Virginia University President

March 5:     Guests TBA

March 6:     Thom Stevens, Healthcare Lobbyist

March 7:     Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Support for The Legislature Today comes from the West Virginia ALF-CIO, the voice for West Virginia workers.


Constitutional Powers
3:42 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Does W.Va.'s Governor Have Too Much Power?

Gov. Tomblin signed a ceremonial bill after the completion of the 2014 legislative session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The question of gubernatorial power in West Virginia was forced into the spotlight after two decisions by Governor Tomblin following the 2014 legislative session; two vetoes, to be more specific. Now lawmakers, the Governor’s Office and even the Attorney General are trying to figure out what’s next for these rejected bills.

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Gun Ordinance
3:53 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Morrisey Files Motion to Dismiss Charleston Gun Lawsuit

Attorney General Patrick Morissey testifying before a Senate committee earlier this year.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed motions to intervene in and dismiss a Kanawha County Circuit Court case challenging a new state gun control law.

The bill passed during this year’s legislative session strives to make gun ordinances uniform across the state.

In a release, Morrisey said the case should be dismissed because the City of Charleston did not name a defendant. Instead, the city is asking the circuit court judge to rule on the "validity" and "construction" of the new law.

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Elections Data
12:24 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Study: West Virginia Ranks Low in Election Performance, Shows Signs of Improvement

Credit Courtesy Photo / West Virginia Secretary of State's Office

Data gathered by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Election Initiative is making waves Tuesday as the organization released four years of collected elections information, ranking all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their performances in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections.

According to their indicators, West Virginia is improving, but not as quickly as state elections leaders might hope.

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Federal Water Regulations
8:33 am
Fri April 4, 2014

U.S. Chemical Safety Bill Passes Senate Committee

Although it’s only the first step in a long road on Capitol Hill, Senator Joe Manchin’s Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act was passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Thursday.

 “He knows full well what happens when a community is upended because some kind of chemical gets into the drinking water supply and he went to work,” said Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer of Calif.

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7:01 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

W.Va. Budget Deal Reached After Days of Debate

House Speaker Tim Miley, House Majority Leader Harry Keith White, and Gov. Tomblin's Chief of Staff Jason Pizatella meet at the Speaker's podium on Thursday, March 12, 2014.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The House and Senate have come to an agreement on the state's budget for the next fiscal year. The process was stalled earlier in the week.

Negotiations between legislative leadership and the governor centered on two issues: how much money to pull from the state Attorney General's Consumer Protection Fund and how much money they could use to expand the Aged and Disabled Waiver Program for seniors.

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W.Va. Politics
4:20 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Miley to House: Prepare for Special Session

Speaker Tim Miley
Credit WV Office of Legislative Services

House Speaker Tim Miley has told members of the West Virginia House of Delegates to prepare for a special session at the end of the week.

Wednesday Governor Tomblin announced an extension of the budget session which would have ended Thursday.

Miley told members they will instead put a compromised budget bill to a vote Friday afternoon and adjourn. Then, he believes, the governor will call the extraordinary session.

Here is a list of bills Miley said will likely be taken up during that session:

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Budget Woes
12:02 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

The Three Bills Lawmakers Need to Balance the Budget

Throughout the final night of the session, Delegates and Senators could both be seen on the floors of the opposite chambers advocating for issues they support.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the legislature are feeling the backlash of bills that failed on the final night of the session. There are three specific bills that are putting not only this year’s, but also next year’s budgets in jeopardy. Jeopardy of a lowered bond rating, something lawmakers do not want to let happen.

On the final night of the legislative session there were two bills that needed to pass—Senate Bill 344 and 345—in order to supplement the finances of some pretty important programs.

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W.Va. Politics
11:20 am
Tue March 11, 2014

The Bills that Failed: What Happens Now?

Members of the conference committee on Senate Bill 6 meet in the back of the House chamber surrounded by a crowd.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators and Delegates worked late into the night, as usual, on the final day of the session voting on bills. The frenzy, however, was too much for some issues. Here are a few of the bills that got lost in the mix and didn’t pass before the midnight deadline.

SB 6

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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.

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House of Delegates
5:59 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Four Senate Bills the House Passed on the Next-to-Last Day of the Regular Session

The House works on legislation during the next-to-last day of the regular session.
Credit Aaron Payne

With today being the next-to-last day of the regular session, time is running out for lawmakers to complete legislation to be sent to the governor. The House voted on 23 Senate items ranging from rules bills, to education and assisting veterans.

S.B. 477

Several bills were debated during the afternoon House session but the one receiving the most discussion was Senate Bill 477.

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The Legislature Today
7:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

The Water Protection Bill, State Budget, Healthcare Lobbyist Thom Stevens, & More

The House passed the Water Resources Protection and Management Act on Wednesday. The Senate passes their version of the budget bill and calls for $125 million to be used from the Rainy Day Fund. Healthcare lobbyist Thom Stevens outlines some of the more than 200 bills this session relating to healthcare, including the late-term abortion bill and a bill that would make pseudoephedrine available by  prescription only.

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House of Delegates
6:36 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Bill to Require Construction Workers to Participate in Safety Program Passes

Senate Bill 376 would require onsite employees at certain works construction projects to complete an Occupational Safety and Health Administration approved ten-hour construction safety program.

Similar measures have been struck down in the past due to fears the program would decrease worker productivity.

Before the vote, one of the sponsors of a similar bill introduced on the House Delegate Phil Diserio gave an impassioned speech about why this measure needed to be taken.

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Budget Woes
4:39 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Senate Budget Uses $125 Million from Rainy Day Fund

Senate President Jeff Kessler meets with leadership during a floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators voted on their version of the budget bill Thursday.

It included the governor’s recommended pay raises for school service personnel and State Police forensic lab technicians, but Senate Bill 306 only accounts for the $837 teacher pay raise passed by the upper chamber. The House has changed that bill to include a $1,000 across the board raise.

But Finance Chair Senator Roman Prezioso explained the Senate has not yet voted on House Bill 4333, known as the Haircut Bill for short. The bill adjusts lottery appropriations of about $40 million to balance the budget.

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West Virginia Morning
8:23 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Legislative Coverage, Incubator Schools, and Inspiring Paleoclimatologists

On this West Virginia Morning we revisit an Inspiring West Virginian segment that profiles two of the world’s leading paleoclimatologists; that, legislators debate everything from deer farming to golf courses, and Cabell County School Board officials hope their new school is the next step in education.

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Chemical Leak
1:40 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Five Things That Happened Before W.Va. House Passed the Water Resources Protection & Management Act

Credit Daniel Walker

There is little doubt that the bill aimed to protect water resources in the state, in response to the Jan. 9 spill of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries, has been the most closely watched and widely discussed bill of the session.

Although the Senate passed SB 373 less that two weeks after its introduction, its passage  in the House took far longer--a result of a triple committee reference that offered a chance for roughly 60 delegates to offer amendments to the bill. Delegates also labored over 20 amendments on the bill's Third Reading Wednesday night before deciding to send the bill back to the Senate.

Here's a few highlights from Wednesday night's floor session leading up to SB 373's passage:

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The Legislature Today
7:54 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

House Judiciary on Future Fund and Crime Victim Compensation, Local Issues in Senate, & Frack Waste

The House Judiciary Committee deals with a constitutional amendment to partner with the establishment of a Future Fund and also deals with a bill that would change awards given from the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund, Members of the Senate bring their local issues to the floor and the Natural Resources Committee sees controversy over a bill relating to deer farming. Glynis Board delivers a special report on frack waste and what researchers think is best to do with it.

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House Judiciary
2:58 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Committee Approves Constitutional Amendment, Bill to Adjust Crime Victim Compensation Awards

The House Judiciary Committee approved S.J.R. 14, proposing constitutional amendment designated Future Fund Amendment and S.B. 204, relating to crime victims compensation awards.
Credit Aaron Payne

While the House Judiciary Committee was unable to get through all 19 items in the morning session, they were able to approve a constitutional amendment that would partner with Senate President Jeff Kessler’s Future Fund bill.

The resolution would put the specific parameters of the fund into West Virginia’s constitution.

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The Legislature Today
7:51 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Senate Takes on Late-Term Abortions, Water Protection Bill Heads to House Floor, & WVU President Gee

The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee amends and passes a House bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. The House Finance Committee removes an amendment to the water protection bill that would force the state Bureau for Public Health to monitor the health those affected by the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries. West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee speaks about his appointment as permanent chief of the school and his vision for its future.

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House Finance Committee
3:56 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Water Resource Protection Bill Passes Final House Committee Reference

The House Finance Committee approved S.B. 431, relating to issuance and renewal of certain driver's licenses and federal ID cards.

The House Finance Committee removed several of the sections added by the other House committees in the water resource protection bill.

One of which was related to medical monitoring which the committee determined was a redundancy because Dr. Letitia Tierney from the DHHR explained during the meeting her office plans to pursue testing whether it is in the bill or not.

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The Legislature Today
7:08 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Update on the Governor's Legislative Agenda, Future Fund, Teacher Raises, & WVCBP's Ted Boettner

An update on Governor Tomblin's legislative agenda and members of the Senate Government Organization Committee discuss a House bill that would reform the state Ethics Commission and reduce the number of members it requires. House committees discuss bills from the Senate, including the Future Fund and pay raises for teachers. Ted Boettner of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy about various issues, including taxes, the future fund, and the state budget.

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