2016 Legislative Session

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing Saturday for three bills that, if passed, could send a number of West Virginia delegates to Washington, D.C. to try and amend the constitution on budget related charges.


It’s been a little over a week since Delegates approved a bill creating the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Known as RFRA, the bill creates a judicial standard for cases where a person’s religious freedoms are infringed upon by a government entity.

 

The bill has been assigned to a Senate committee, but has yet to make its way onto an agenda. Still, that hasn’t stopped members of the upper chamber from voicing their thoughts about the bill on floor this week.

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we take a look at a non-profit organization in the Northern Panhandle who has big plans for some abandoned properties.

The Senate Finance Committee has approved a bill to increase the tobacco tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack. 

West Virginia University Health Sciences Executive Dean Dr. Clary Marsh says the increase will be enough to discourage West Virginia smokers and will likely increase the health outcomes for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children.

Dr. Marsh discusses the tobacco tax, as well as what WVU is doing to combat substance abuse in West Virginia.

Voting
WBOY

The House of Delegates will vote on a contentious piece of legislation Friday; a bill that would require West Virginians to show a form of identification at their polling place. But on Thursday, the bill saw a change on the floor.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the West Virginia Senate approved a bill to create a government-owned middle mile network, expanding access to broadband Internet in the state. 

The measure passed 29-5 during Thursday's Senate floor session.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

On an 18-16 vote, which was not along party lines, senators approved a bill that allows online fantasy sports leagues to operate in West Virignia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, two environmental groups intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect Monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Over two days, the Judiciary Committee considered and approved some changes to House Bill 4145. 

Two southern West Virginia Senators discuss the economic impact the decline in the state's coal industry is having not just on the overall state budget, but the county level budgets as well which have led to cuts in programs and services as well as school layoffs.

Sen. Bill Laird of Fayette County and Sen. Ron Stollings of Boone County join us.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators on the Judiciary Committee are still considering amendments to a bill that would allow West Virginians to carry a concealed weapon without a permit after a meeting Tuesday. 

Ted Boettner with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy discusses the group's latest report detailing Governor Tomblin's 2017 budget proposal. 

Boettner explains previous tax cuts alongside the declining severance tax collections have hurt the state budget for years in a row. He also focuses in on the importance of funding higher education.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After some discussion of possible amendments, members of the Senate Finance Committee decided Tuesday to finish their consideration of a bill to increase the state's tobacco tax Wednesday afternoon.

The bill, introduced on behalf of Governor Tomblin, would increase the tax by 45 cents per pack and also includes various increases for other tobacco products. Members, however, were interested in several amendments to the bill, leading to the recess.

Delegates John McCuskey and Woody Ireland
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

In the House chamber Tuesday, Delegates approved an amendment to a pipeline safety bill proposed on behalf of the governor.

House Bill 4323 was on second reading in the House, also known as the amendment phase. The bill requires pipeline operators to report an accident or emergency at their facility to the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management within 15 minutes or face a fine of up to $50,000.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate Judiciary Committee pulled a bill to remove the permitting requirements to carry concealed weapons in the state from its agenda Monday afternoon. The decision, which came without an explanation during the meeting from Chair Charles Trump, came the same day as a public hearing on the issue. 

The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act's approval in the House of Delegates caused a firestorm on social media as many businesses spoke in opposition, but groups backing the bill say its important to West Virginia.

Jill Rice with Opportunity West Virginia and Allen Whitt with the Family Policy Council of West Virginia debate the bill that's now being considered in the Senate. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, The West Virginia Tourism Commissioner says that, while the division doesn't have any final numbers to prove the campaign's success just yet, she believes it is working.

In the second year of Republican control of the statehouse, lawmakers have voted both a second and third times to override Tomblin vetoes.

A simple majority in both chambers voted Friday to make the prevailing wage repeal and Right-to-Work bills law.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House of Delegates has passed a bill to aid the state’s struggling Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Romney, West Virginia.

House Bill 4147 would make the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind eligible for funding from the West Virginia School Building Authority or SBA. The SBA awards some $50 million dollars in additional funds each year to county school systems for building or renovation projects.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from lawmakers about the controversial religious freedom restoration act, which was passed by the house of delegates yesterday.

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