The Legislature Today

Beginning January 19, 2015. You can watch weeknights at 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on WVPB. Weekdays at 6:00 a.m. on WVPBS.2. You can also listen weekdays at 6:30 p.m. on WVPB 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.

Monday, February 9 -  Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Tuesday, February 10 -  Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick

Wednesday, February 11 - Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano

Thursday, February 12 - House Speaker Tim Armstead

Friday, February 13 - Senate President Bill Cole 

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

West Virginia High Tech Consortium

 

Support for The Legislature Today comes from the West Virginia High Technology Foundation

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Daniel Walker

The House Judiciary Committee looked over Senate Bill 461 which would create the Future Fund.

No substantive changes were suggested by the committee.

While none of the delegates opposed the idea of setting aside extra money from severance tax from natural resources for the sake of future projects, there were concerns the language of the bill would allow future legislatures to change the code and use the money for other purposes.

West Virginia Legislature

Members of the House Judiciary Committee spent more than 9 hours debating and discussing 50 amendments to Senate Bill 373 Sunday into Monday.

The bill is meant to regulate above ground storage tanks and protect the state’s water resources in response to the January 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries in Charleston that resulted in the contamination of 300,000 West Virginians’ drinking water.

Delegates from the House explain their feelings on how the session has gone thus far and Senators debate a bill that would establish a retirement program for private and small businesses that's backed by State Teasurer John Perdue.  Also, Phil Kabler of The Charleston Gazette and Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail discuss the state's finances, from the Governor dipping into the Rainy Day Fund to the budget hearings that will immediately follow the end of the regular session.

Three Senate Bills and Where the House Stands

Feb 28, 2014
Aaron Payne

Senate Bill 373: The Water Protection Bill

The House has had S.B. 373 for nearly a month and Thursday, a bipartisan group of delegates sent a letter to Governor Tomblin requesting a special session with the sole focus on this bill.

One senate leader was not pleased with the request. Senate Majority Leader John Unger said he and his colleagues would refuse an extended session because he feels the House has had the bill long enough.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate Pensions Committee took up House Bill 4375 creating the West Virginia Voluntary Employee Retirement Accounts Program.

The program would be available to businesses with up to 100 employees who do not have a current retirement system.

Employers or employees could voluntarily opt into the program, automatically deducting a retirement contribution from their paycheck each month, but employers would not be required to contribute to those plans.

Bills relating to abortion, drilling waste, and the attorney general's office that were controversial in the House now make their way through the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee discusses expanding pretrial release programs. Soon-to-be-retiring Senator Brooks McCabe discusses the future of West Virginia through his thoughts on teacher pay raises, sustainable water quality, and the future fund.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Bills that were hotly debated in the House are expected to receive just as much attention in the Senate as members of the Legislature near their final week of the session.

One of those includes a bill allowing commercial solid waste authorities to dispose of solid waste and drill cuttings from the Marcellus shale industry.

Aaron Payne

Among the seven bills discussed by the House Judiciary Committee Thursday was Senate Bill 307, authorizing community corrections programs to operate pretrial release programs. Those programs could range from work release to decreasing the cost of an issued bond.

The purpose of the program is to decrease the cost of counties having to hold these people in jails. Pilot programs have been implemented in a few counties such as Ohio and Wood.

The House of Delegates went through 60 items on their daily calendar on "Crossover Day," the last day for bills to be out of their house of origin. But, House Judiciary heard from environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies as they examined Senate Bill 373, the bill that would regulate above-ground storage facilities. The Senate votes on 11 bills, debates three possible Constitutional Amendments, and also votes on the teacher pay raise bill.

Aaron Payne

Senate Bill 373 relating to water resources protection was sent to the House nearly one month ago to go through three committee stops. Two weeks ago the bill made it through the Health and Human Resource Committee with amendments to be sent to the Judiciary Committee. Wednesday, the second committee used its meeting to hear from Downstream Strategies President Evan Hansen.

A motion to discharge House Bill 2364 or the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act from committee and put it up for immediate vote was rejected on February 11th.

Pages