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.

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The Legislature Today
7:17 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Senate Passes Rx-Only Pseudoephedrine Bill, House Tries to Prevent Layoffs, & Dr. James Phares

The Senate passes a bill that would make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. Committees in the state legislature's upper house also took up bill pertaining to the budget and drug testing of coal mine employees who work in safety-related positions. Members of the House consider legislation allowing businesses to reduce the number of hours an employee works to avoid layoffs. Also, state Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares talks with Ashton Marra about a teacher hiring bill passed in the House, another bill that would limit the timeline for the state to take control of a county school system, and how schools are ensuring the safety of students after the Jan. 9 spill into the Elk River.

House Finance
5:43 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Bill to Keep West Virginians Working Passes in House Finance Committee

The House Finance Committee goes over H.B. 4409, creating the Valued Employee Retention Program.
Credit Daniel Walker

House Bill 4409 creates the Valued Employee Retention Program with the goal of giving employers incentive to reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off.

It requires employers to enter an agreement to submit a plan explaining how instead of laying off their employees they would reduce their hours. In exchange, the employee could get unemployment benefits proportional to the amount of hours that they’ve been reduced.

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Privacy Concerns
9:21 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Senator: Data Collection System Keeps Personal Information Confidential

Members of the state Senate gathered in the chamber for a floor session Monday.
Credit Ashton Marra

Senators took up Senate Bill 420 Monday to amend the state P-20W Longitudinal Data System.

The system collects statistics from K-12, colleges, universities and community colleges tracking student achievement.

The bill adds child care and workforce data to the system giving a broader view of a student’s success. It also requires the information be brought to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability to ensure transparency.

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The Legislature Today
7:17 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Rx-Pseudoephedrine Amendments Fail, Brunch Bill Passes House, Sens. Green & Hall on Wyoming Water

Senators vote on seven bills, reject one, and also down amendments to the prescription-only pseudoephedrine bill. The House of Delegates passes a bill to expand the hours of alcohol sales at some businesses to include Sunday brunch. Senators Mike Green and Daniel Hall talk about Wyoming County's own water issues and what they're hoping to do to solve the problem.

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House of Delegates
6:01 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

'Brunch Bill' for Alcohol Sales Passes W.Va. House

Delegate John Overington speaks to his amendment that would make 2 a.m. the new time for last call.
Credit Daniel Walker

The bill that incited the most debate during Monday’s floor session was one that would allow private licensees to begin alcohol sales at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays instead of 1:00 p.m. as dictated by current code. Aaron Payne reports.

House Bill 4454 would allow restaurants and tourism destinations such as a bed and breakfast to serve alcoholic beverages as part of Sunday brunch.

Supporters of the bill said that it could boost profits from tourism in the state.

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The Legislature Today
11:47 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

House Approves Launch Pad Act, Corrections Honored by Senate, and Jonathan Mattise & Mandi Cardosi

The House of Delegates approves a bill that would provide benefits for businesses working with technologies not currently in West Virginia if they locate or expand in launch pads areas in the state. The Division of Corrections is honored through a resolution in the Senate, and  Jonathan Mattise of the Associated Press & Mandi Cardosi of The State Journal speak with Friday host Ashton Marra about the latest on the status of the chemical spill bill in the House, as well as the Attorney General's actions after reports of price gouging during the water crisis.

House of Delegates
5:55 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

House Approves W. Va. Launch Pad Act

Delegate Doug Skaff speaks in support of H.B. 4343, the West Virginia Launch Pad Act.
Credit Daniel Walker

House Bill 4343 provides economic benefits for businesses working with technologies not currently in West Virginia if they locate or expand in launch pads areas in the state.

These benefits would begin on January 1, 2015 and last until December 30, 2030 and include state and local tax relief and assistance in moving a business here.

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Prison Overcrowding
4:43 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Should the Division of Corrections Become a Separate State Department?

Senate President Jeff Kessler presents DOC Commissioner Jim Rubenstein with a proclamation declaring Feb. 14, 2014, Division of Corrections Day at the Legislature.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Division of Corrections was honored in the Senate Friday with a resolution declaring February 14, 2014, Corrections day at the legislature.

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein was joined by his Cabinet Secretary Joe Thornton and other members of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to receive the honor.

“On this day, it is important for this Legislature to remember that the starting annual salary for an entry level correctional professional in West Virginian is $22,584,” said Sen. Bill Laird.

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Teacher Pay
3:33 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Senate Alters Governor's Pay Increase for Teachers

The West Virginia Senate Education Committee is proposing a sweeping $1,000 pay raise for teachers.
 
The bill originally proposed a 2 percent raise.
Committee Chair Bob Plymale says they hope the raise will begin to attract highly qualified teachers.
 
He says many teachers across the state are nearing retirement and the committee wants to compete for new teachers nationally.
 
While the committee doesn't feel an across-the-board raise of $1,000 is competitive enough, Plymale says it's a start.

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The Legislature Today
7:15 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

House Takes on E-Cigarettes and Sexual Abuse, Senate Moves Bills From Interims, & Child Poverty

The House of Delegates passes a bill to make the sale e-cigarettes illegal to minors and addresses the issue of sexual abuse of minors. The
Senate deals with two issues--state purchasing and pseudoephedrine--that have been in mind since interims. Representatives of the Our Children, Our Future campaign to end child poverty discuss their legislative priorities with Beth Vorhees.

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News
5:40 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Bill Passes to Prohibit Sale of Electronic Tobacco Products to Minors

Lead sponsor of H.B. 4237 Delegate Tiffany Lawrence speaks to her colleagues during the House floor session.
Credit Daniel Walker

In Thursday’s House session, one bill on third reading and two bills mentioned in a speech dealt with the health and well-being of West Virginia’s children.

H.B. 4237 would protect the health of children from new products alternative to the traditional sources of tobacco.

These new products include electronic cigarettes and cigars and dissolving products such as toothpicks, gum and lozenges.

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Senate
4:13 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Senate Moving Forward on Two Major Interim Issues

Members of the Senate during a floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra

Senators unanimously passed a bill requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine through committee and will soon vote as a whole on a bill reforming state purchasing procedures. Both issues were studies during the previous interim session.

Senator Greg Tucker sponsored the prescription only bill which makes pseudoephedrine a controlled substance, requiring a prescription for its purchase. The bill made it through Senate Judiciary after three hours of debate.

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The Legislature Today
11:57 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Veterans and PTSD, Firefighters and Gas Drilling Sites, & Marshall University Pres. Dr. Stephen Kopp

A 2012 study finds that many of the state’s veterans report suffering from symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and 20% reported giving serious thought to suicide. The Senate discusses firefighters who respond to well site fires and explosions. Marshall University president Dr. Stephen Kopp talks finances, the privatizing of public education and more.

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House of Delegates
5:59 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

House Passes Bill to Increase Minimum Wage in W. Va.

The House of Delegates passed H.B. 4283, increasing the minimum wage.
Credit Aaron Payne

In the governor’s State of the State address, Tomblin said that one of his goals for the legislative session is to provide a pay raise for groups such as teachers and state workers. The House of Delegates voted on a bill that would do the same for a different group in West Virginia; minimum wage workers.

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Fracking Safety
5:48 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Fire Marshal: W.Va. Firefighters Not Required to Train on Well Site Fires

Crews battle a fire at a gas well in Greene County, Pa., on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014.
Credit KDKA-TV

News broke Tuesday of a gas well explosion and fire in Greene County, Pennsylvania, injuring one worker while a second is still missing.

The well was just miles from the West Virginia border, close to the first Senatorial District from which Senator Jack Yost hails, a district that’s full of well sites of its own.

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The Legislature Today
10:47 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Gov. Tomblin Announces In-Home Water Testing, Abortion Bill Gets Rejected, Sin Taxes, & More

Gov. Tomblin announces plans for in-home water testing, an abortion-restricting bill is rejected with a tie vote, the Senate looks to increase the sin tax to remedy a budget crunch, and The West Virginia Women's Commission outlines their legislative agenda.

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House Of Delegates
4:14 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Abortion-Restricting Bill Rejected With Tie Vote

The vote to discharge a bill restricting abortion from committee is rejected as the result is a tie.
Credit Daniel Walker

A vote resulting in a tie is a rarity in the legislature but one occurred Tuesday in the House of Delegates.

There were no bills up for passage but, with it being “Pro-Life Day” at the Capitol, there was an attempt made to discharge House Bill 2364 from committee to be put to a vote on the floor.

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Senate
2:57 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Senator: Increased Sin Tax Could Help in Budget Crunch

Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Cabell.
Credit WV Legislative Photography

Senate Bill 534 was introduced in the Senate Tuesday to increase the excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The proposal would mean a $1 increase in taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $1.55 total. On all other tobacco products, the tax increases from 7 percent of the wholesale price to 50 percent.

“From a polling standpoint, people say they don’t have a problem with increasing cigarette taxes,” said Senator Bob Plymale, the bill’s lead sponsor.

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The Legislature Today
9:26 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

The Congressional Field Hearing on the Chemical Spill, Minimum Wage, & DHHR Sec. Karen Bowling

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a field hearing on the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River, the House of Delegates considers a bill that would increase the minimum wage, and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling talks about her agency's response to the water crisis.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

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Congressional Hearing
5:24 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Congressional Committee Chair: 'Nobody Is Willing to Say the Water Is Safe'

The panel of witnesses testified Monday in the Kanawha County Courthouse.
Credit Ashton Marra

The two hour field hearing by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure began Monday with opening remarks where witnesses, recounted their company’s or agency’s response immediately following the discovery of the leak.

Lawmakers, however, were focused on the fact the Freedom Industries’ President Gary Southern, invited to testify, did attend.

“Mr. Chairman, there is an odor emanating from Freedom Industries and it’s not licorice. We cannot legislate morality into the billionaire corporate boardrooms where shell game playing abounds," said Rep. Nick Rahall.

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