The Legislature Today

  • Hosted by Andrea Lannom

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.

The Legislature Today can be seen weeknights on:

  • 6 and 11 p.m. - WVPB (main channel)
  • 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. - The West Virginia Channel

The Legislature Today can also be heard at 6 p.m. weeknights on WVPB's statewide radio network.

 

Subscribe to The Legislature Today Podcast for daily downloads of the program.

On The Legislature Today, Republican Legislative leaders have expressed no intention to increase funding for the state's Public Employee's Health Insurance Agency, the healthcare coverage for government employees. That means potential increases in premiums and costs for those covered under the plan.

Dept. of Administration Sec. John Myers and PEIA Director Ted Cheatham discuss the funding for PEIA.

On The Legislature Today, days before Republican Legislative leaders previewed their plan to balance the 2018 budget, members of the House Liberty Caucus came up with a solution of their own.

Delegates Pat McGeehan and Michael Folk introduced their budget bill Thursday in the House of Delegates. It makes cuts to "government bureaucracy" in Charleston, smooths payments to the teacher's retirement system, and cuts Gov. Jim Justice's $105 million "SOS Fund" to not just find a balance, but include a 2 percent pay raise for teachers. 

The delegates discuss their plan and why it should be considered a "blueprint" for their fellow Republicans.

On The Legislature Today, tensions were high in the Senate as a motion to move a bill to the chamber’s Finance Committee turned into a debate over the procedures Senators with years of experience say are being ignored by some members of the majority party.

Members of the House’s Judiciary Committee are considering a bill that its sponsors hope will curb West Virginia’s nursing shortage.

On The Legislature Today, lawmaker have reacted the halfway point of this legislative session and Gov. Jim Justice is pressuring Republican leaders to release their spending plan. 

After some harsh words from the governor during a press conference Friday aimed at the caucus, House Finance Chair Eric Nelson and Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall pushback, defending the legislative process they say is defined in the state's Constitution. 

On The Legislature Today, House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael say their chambers are still diligently working on plans to balance the 2018 budget, but the $497 million gap estimated by the Governor's Office for the coming fiscal year, Carmichael calls it a number inflated by Gov. Jim Justice's want to increase spending. 

Carmichael discusses the Senate's push to "hold the line" on spending while still providing vital government services. 

Armstead says while he would like approve a budget in a bi-partisan fashion, he believes Republican members of his chamber are ready to make the tough decisions when it comes to downsizing government, which likely means laying off state workers. 

On The Legislature Today, there are more than 700 classrooms in the state being led by substitute teachers, more than a dozen local school systems being monitored for a lack of operational funds, and over the past few years, the state Department of Education has reduced its numbers by some 80 positions. 

Still, lawmakers are looking for ways to save money on education, one of the largest drivers of the state's budget.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano discusses the problems that face the state's public education system and what lawmakers can do to address them.

On The Legislature Today, the state of West Virginia’s budget has largely been the focus of this legislative session, overshadowing many of the other bills making their way through the process.

Several pieces of legislation, though, have been introduced to aid the victims of rape and sexual assault in the state. Sen. Mike Woelfel and Nancy Hoffman with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services discuss those bills.

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has sent lawmakers a second budget plan this session and now plans to sweep $120 million in one time monies to balance the 2017 budget.

Lawmakers also got their first look at the $610 million deficit that would be created by the Senate's current tax reform bill that would repeal the personal income tax and replace it with an expanded consumer sales tax. 

State Journal Managing Editor Ann Ali and MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinney recap the week's budget news.

On The Legislature Today, state Auditor J.B. McCuskey said on the campaign trail he would complete the OASIS implementation process, and just over a month on the job, he says the state is on track to meet that goal by July 1, 2018. 

OASIS is the computer operating system the state has spent years and millions of dollars implementing.

On The Legislature Today, Secretary of State Mac Warner says changing the make-up of his office was necessary after his election in order to move in a new direction. 

A number of the 16 employees were considering filing a wrongful termination lawsuit, but Warner defended his decision saying some of the staff hired to replace them will be out in the field working directly with county clerks, the elected officials he'll work with directly to administer elections. 


On The Legislature Today, the governor releases an alternative plan to balance the 2018 budget-- one legislative leaders seem more open to considering.

 

In the Senate, a bill to clarify the state’s right to work law gets a passing vote and in the House, delegates hold a public hearing to address changed to the state's water quality standards.

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has presented lawmakers with several legislative proposals, including an overhaul of the state's education system aimed at pushing control back to the local level. 

Although he said he hasn't worked through the full proposal, Senate President Mitch Carmichael supports the overarching plan of more flexibility.

"That’s what his initiative in broad terms does," he said. "We support that and we’ll reserve right to comment on the details, but I’m very anxious to work with him on that goal of returning control to the local entities.”

On The Legislature Today, hundreds of pieces of legislation get introduced each legislative session and the House and Senate Judiciary Chairs see most of them. Sen. Charles Trump and Del. John Shott discuss some of those bills, including the ones they call their top priority-- those that deal with substance abuse.

Del. Shott says the House has taken the lead on those bills, which include some to increase penalties for those bringing drugs into the state as well as those selling them.

Sen. Trump says its an issue that plagues the entire state and lawmakers are doing their best to tackle the issue from all sides. 

At The Legislature Today, although the budget has been the top priority for lawmakers this session, it’s implications trickle down into all areas of state government, including education.

Del. Paul Espinosa and Sen. Kenny Mann, chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees, say even though there may be less money for schools, they are working through bills to give counties more flexibility in how they spend that funding.

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice announces a downgrade of the state's bond rating nearly two weeks after he presented lawmakers with a proposal to increase taxes and fees for a road bond. 

Sen. Greg Boso and Del. Marty Gearheart, chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, react to the downgrade and the governor's bond proposal. 

The Senate's Select Committee on Tax Reform has yet to take up a bill that would phase out West Virginia's personal income tax and replace the revenues with an increased sales tax. That, however, hasn't stopped the bill from becoming one of the most talked about at the statehouse this session.

Sen. Robert Karnes, the chair of that select committee, shares his take on the bill.

The Republican majority in the Senate is starting to reveal its plan to restructure the state’s tax code. A bill introduced in that chamber Thursday would repeal the state’s income and corporate net income taxes and replace them with a higher consumer sales tax and fewer exemptions.

Gov. Jim Justice has already released his proposal to balance the state budget on tax increases and a small amount of cuts.

Minority Leaders Tim Miley and Roman Prezioso discuss the budget proposals their party will support.

On The Legislature Today, the Chairs of the House and Senate Finance Committees are digging deep into state agencies to find efficiencies or cuts that could potentially save the state money. 

Del. Eric Nelson and Sen. Mike Hall discuss the state's $497 million budget gap for the 2018 Fiscal Year and how they intend to fix it. 

On The Legislature Today, Senate President Mitch Carmichael has created a committee focused on restructuring the state's tax code and says its goal is to get rid of the state's income tax. 

Carmichael discusses his newly formed committee and his goals as the newly elected Senate President.

At the Legislature today, it's been less than a week since Gov. Jim Justice presented his plan to lawmakers to close a $497 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

House Speaker Tim Armstead shares his views on the governor's plan and the plan Legislative leaders are beginning to put together.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With just one day left in this regular legislative session, both the 2016 and 2017 budgets remain unbalanced. 

Secretary of Revenue Bob Kiss details the House, Senate and Governor's proposals to fund state government, but the loss of several bills means none of the proposals can be approved for the 2017 fiscal year.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting


The Finance Committees in both chambers have approved their versions of the bill, and the Senate as a whole will vote on the budget tomorrow, but it will look very different from the one taken up in the House.

 

Speaker Tim Armstead says his chamber still has a reasonable budget before them, despite the lack of any revenue increasing measures.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Additional funding for the state's highway system is in doubt after removed from a House Committees agenda. 

Delegates also inch closer to a vote the could set up a drug testing process for West Virginians who apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At a public hearing in the House of Delegates, speakers unanimously favored a bill to allow alcohol sales on Sunday mornings, but the hearing might not fully represent the feelings of West Virginians according to a recent poll.

The chamber's Finance Committee will spend its third day discussing a bill that increases Division of Motor Vehicle Fees and some taxes to fund roads. The bill has already been approved in the Senate.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A Kanwaha County Circuit Judge has ruled that West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin should not be given state dollars to fund his re-election campaign.

The lawsuit was brought against Benjamin by Beth Walker, one of four challengers in the race. Benjamin was attempting to participate in the state’s public campaign financing program, a program that is only available to candidates running for Supreme Court seats, but this is the first time a candidate’s participation has been challenged.

Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro from the firm Powell & Majestro discusses the implication of the case.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After members of the House Finance Committee voted to kill a bill that would have increased the state's taxes on tobacco products, including a $1 increase per pack of cigarettes, Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health and West Virginia Chief Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta reacts to the legislative decision.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael and House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles discuss the future of a bill approved in the Senate Wednesday that raises taxes and fees to fund infrastructure. The two also focus in on the difficulties lawmakers face in balancing the 2017 budget.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Fiscal issues top the concerns of members of the minority party leading up to the end of this legislative session. 

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler and House Minority Leader Tim Miley discuss the most pressing issues facing lawmakers with just 11 days left to consider legislation.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting


The GOP majority in both chambers have received plenty of criticism and support this legislative session for taking on controversial issues like Right-to-Work and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

 

West Virginians on either side of the issue have made their stances known through social media campaigns and rallies at the statehouse, and many opposed are turning those feelings into political fuel for the upcoming primary and general elections.

 

Curtis Wilkerson with Orion Strategies discusses a poll recently conducted by the firm about both legislative and political issues.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting


The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act was approved in the House more than two weeks ago and, in that time, Senate leaders have said little about the bill. The chamber's Judiciary Committee took up the legislation Friday evening, but some Senators say they’re waiting to see a final bill before throwing their support behind it.

 

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