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.

Larry Dowling / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

During the Governor’s State of the State Address earlier this month, Tomblin detailed some of his main priorities for this legislative session. The governor detailed the measures he would ask lawmakers to take to balance this year’s budget, bills he would introduce to improve the state’s business climate and juvenile justice system. But he also touched on a bill he hopes will incite the growth of an already burgeoning industry in West Virginia, craft brewing.

For Brian Arnett of Mountain State Brewing Co. located in Thomas and Morgantown, craft brewing--especially here in West Virginia--is something way more than just yeast, barley and hops.

“It’s a full on revolution. It’s people that want to know a story behind what they’re consuming and they like they story and they like the different flavors and the provided variety and flavors and things they would not get otherwise,” said Arnett.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate Finance Committee continued budget hearings Thursday with state Division of Corrections. Since the passage of the governor’s Justice Reinvestment Act in 2013, the Commissioner of Corrections told lawmakers overcrowding is becoming less and less of an issue, but the division is still asking for a budget increase.

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein presented the governor’s proposed budget for his division for the upcoming fiscal year. In it, the governor is suggesting a budget increase of about $1.8 million from general revenue funds.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate voted on Senate Bill 8 Wednesday, authorizing a performance audit of the state Division of Highways. The bill, which was welcomed by the Department of Transportation, met some opposition on the chamber floor. 

DOT Secretary Paul Mattox told members of both House and Senate committees last week he was all for the bill which authorizes an outside organization to come in and audit the ten DOH districts, looking for areas of inefficiency, better practices, and better allocation of funds, among other criteria. 

At the legislature today, there was confusion in the House Government Organization Committee this morning as lawmakers discuss a bill about an airport located in West Virginia but apparently governed by officials in Maryland.  

We also continue to meet the new leaders at this legislative session.  Joining us tonight the chairs of the powerful finance committees on The Legislature Today. 

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, from Pennsylvania Route 118 in eastern Moreland Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ruhrfisch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

  State lawmakers have approved a bill letting companies transfer well permits for oil and natural gas drilling.

The change would help Southwestern Energy Co., which bought $5 billion in assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. last October.

The House of Delegates fast-tracked the bill to a 96-0 vote Wednesday, instead of taking the normal three days.

The Senate did the same last week before a 31-0 vote.

Comparative Fault Bill Passed in the House

Jan 27, 2015

At the legislature today, the first of many tort reforms bills was up for debate in the House of Delegates.  Republicans have said for years such legal reforms are necessary to make the state more business friendly. 

Also, lawmakers hear about a new idea to improve roads and highways. 

These stories, plus we’ll talk with the new minority leaders on The Legislature Today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPVbOQ1o9j4

The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

The Republican-run Legislature needs one vote to send a repeal of an energy portfolio to Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The Senate cast a 33-0 procedural vote Tuesday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The House needs another procedural vote to clear it.

Both chambers previously passed the repeal overwhelmingly.

The portfolio requires generating 25 percent of electricity with alternative power sources by 2025. Some coal-burning technologies qualify.

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a Senate Transportation Committee meeting Tuesday, Senators were presented with one possible solution for the lack of funding for state roads, one that would allow counties to be more involved in the construction and maintenance process.

Senate Bill 258 is also known as the “Letting Our Counties Act Locally Act” and comes as the result of two years of work from stakeholders in Monongalia County.

Judiciary Chairs Discuss Tort Reform

Jan 26, 2015

  At the legislature today, a senator from Greenbrier County gave his colleagues an update on the water situation in his district.  A diesel fuel spill has fouled the drinking water for thousands of residents there.  And we’ll sit in on a meeting of the House Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development to hear how the state assists small business owners.  Also we’ll meet the new chairs of the judiciary committees.

As the first full week of the session comes to a close, bills are slowly moving through the legislative process. 

We’ll review the week with Jon Mattise of the AP and Mandi Cardosi of The State Journal, who are also covering the issues around the Rotunda.

And, we’ll profile Senator Donna Boley of Pleasants County.  A veteran lawmaker she has gone from the only Republican in the Senate to now, the only woman there.  

High drama in the House of Delegates as tempers flare over the repeal of a bill regarding alternative fuels and renewable energy, even though the bill passed overwhelmingly.

Pro-choice advocates rallied at the state capitol today over the newly introduced bill to restrict abortions in West Virginia.

And we’ll talk about the public education system with state Board of Education president Gayle Manchin.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  The Republican-run state House of Delegates has passed a repeal of an energy portfolio.

The House voted 95-4 Thursday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

The portfolio requires generating 25 percent of electricity with renewable or alternative power sources by 2025. Some coal-burning technologies qualify.

  Speaker Tim Armstead takes over as the first Republican to fill the top role in the House of Delegates for the first time since the Capitol has been in its current location. But what are his and his party's plans?

The Department of Transportation gives a budget presentation in the House Finance Committee and concerns remain over the quality of roads affected by drilling the Marcellus Shale.

That and more on this episode of The Legislature Today.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The House Finance Committee met Wednesday to hear the budget requests from various agencies within the Department of Transportation. But one of the many concerns the Delegates had was the state of roads due to Marcellus Shale drilling.

Kate Wellington / creativecommons.org

The term “pork barrel” often refers to a government appropriation for local projects secured primarily to bring money to a representative's district. But in the House Tuesday, Delegates heard of a different kind of pork project. The discussion during the House Committee on Agriculture was centered on using old mountaintop removal sites for hog farming.

Senate President Bill Cole joins us to talk about legislative priorities after the Republican takeover following November's midterm election. 

The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor pulled a bill from the committee's agenda Tuesday, Senate Bill 245, a bill that aims to repeal the state's prevailing wage requirement.   

Also, members of the House Agriculture committee handle a bill that looks to use old mountaintop removal sites for hog farming.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor pulled a bill from the committee's agenda Tuesday, Senate Bill 245, a bill that aims to repeal the state's prevailing wage requirement. 

Prevailing wage is a defined hourly wage, overtime and benefits used in government contracts established by regulatory agencies. Once those wage standards are set, anyone bidding on a state government contract must pay workers on their project at that level.

Senate President Bill Cole introduced similar legislation in 2014 repealing the wage requirement and said he still believes in repeal because it would be a cost savings to the taxpayers of West Virginia.

West Virginia Legislature

Senate Bill 256 was introduced to the full chamber Tuesday. Sponsored by Sen. Chris Walters of Putnam County, the bill aims at increasing the number of unexcused absences a student can have before the state court system intervenes.

“Currently, West Virginia has one of the most aggressive numbers and that’s five statewide," Walters said.  "Once a child reaches five unexcused absences then he arrives into the court system and can be placed in a facility.”

Flickr / davidwilson1949

  A Democrat has refiled a proposal banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation in West Virginia, despite its veto last year.

On Tuesday, Fayette County Del. David Perry reintroduced the bill Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed.

It bans abortions after 20 weeks, except for expectant women in medical emergencies.

Before last year's election, the Democratic-run House and Senate passed the proposal overwhelmingly.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin joined us to speak about another tight budget year and how his legislative agenda will play out in a GOP-controlled statehouse.

A piece of legislation that would repeal a 2009 energy bill progressed through both chambers at the state house Monday, but that bill is changing shape as it makes its way through both chambers. 

Also, as session began last week there were some tense moments during a discussion of rules in the House of Delegates.

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