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.

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.

West Virginia Legislative Services

January 14th marked the first day of the 82nd Legislative Session. For the first time in 80 years, Republicans took majority in the House, but on that first day, the Democrats, now in the minority, came out swinging.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia lawmakers are again promoting a bill to prohibit employers and landlords from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation.

At a Fairness West Virginia news conference Monday, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler and other Democratic officials discussed the legislation that Kessler has supported for years.

Appalachian Electric Power executive Charles Patton also spoke in support of it.

West Virginia law prohibits discrimination in employment and housing based a variety of factors, from race and religion to blindness or disability.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bill that's caused a bit of an uproar in the House and Senate progressed through both chambers at the state house Monday, but that bill is changing shape as it makes its way through both chambers. 

The Alternative and Renewable Energy Act was approved by lawmakers in 2009 under the guise of Governor Joe Manchin. Backed by the coal industry, the law requires electric utilities in the state to produce 25 percent of their energy using alternative and renewable resources, like solar or wind, by 2025.

https://twitter.com/gregboso

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has tapped Republican engineer Gregory Boso as the new 11th District state senator.

The Democratic governor had to pick from three Republicans to replace GOP state Sen. Clark Barnes, who has 

  officially resigned to become Senate clerk.

Boso currently provides forensic and investigative engineering services for cases in Kentucky and West Virginia. The Summerville resident is president of G.L. Boso & Associates Inc. and Boso & Boso Inc.

West Virginia Legislative Services

As the legislature begins its session, the Republicans now holding the majority tout job creation as their main focus for the next eight weeks. On the House floor today, Delegate Miley of Harrison County noted that there are plenty of jobs in the north region of the state.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of both the House and Senate Energy Committees took up a bill Thursday repealing a law that’s commonly been referred to as West Virginia’s cap and trade law.

The Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act of 2009 requires electric utilities in the state to produce 25 percent of their electricity with alternative and renewable energy sources by 2025, meeting benchmarks of ten percent in 2015 and 15 percent in 2020.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a historic first day to the 82nd Legislative Session, Republicans are now the majority in the House, and Republican Delegate, Tim Armstead was elected as House Speaker.

West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Republicans have named three options to replace state Sen. Clark Barnes, who has officially resigned to become Senate clerk.

The Republican candidates who will be considered for the vacancy are state Del. Allen Evans of Petersburg; West Virginia Farm Bureau President Charles Wilfong of Dunmore; and engineer Gregory Boso from Summersville.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Mercer County Sen. Bill Cole was elected to the Senate Presidency by a vote of 19-15 Wednesday with one Democrat crossing party lines to vote with the new Republican majority.

Sen. Bob Plymale of Cabell County voted for Cole instead of former Senate President and now Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, the Democratic nominee. Plymale declined to comment on the vote.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia lawmakers have begun a 60-day legislative session with Republicans in power for the first time in more than eight decades.

The Senate and House of Delegates gaveled in shortly after noon Wednesday.

As expected, Republican Bill Cole of Mercer County was elected Senate president. Republican Tim Armstead of Kanawha County was chosen as House speaker.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin gave his fifth State of the State Address Wednesday night in the House Chamber before a joint meeting of the legislature as well as the Supreme Court, Constitutional officers and many, many others.

Tomblin touted the financial success the state is seeing from fiscally prudent decisions made in recent years. From the strength of the state’s more than $800 million Rainy Day Fund to the accomplishments in paying off worker’s compensation debt, Tomblin said the state is in good financial health.

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.

Patrick Morrisey, W. Va. Attorney General
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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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

The Legislature Today: Final Hours Live Blog

Mar 8, 2014

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.

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.

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.

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.

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