2017 Legislative Session

Jason Barrett, Erikka Storch
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

As lawmakers try to find ways to deal with the state’s financial problems, the House Finance Committee discussed a bill that could put $9 million back in the budget. The bill originating in the House’s Finance Committee would end the Racetrack Modernization Fund.

John Shott
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

House Bill 2966 would put together an independent panel and create the West Virginia Sentencing Commission.

It was taken up by the House Judiciary Committee Monday afternoon and is sponsored by House Speaker Tim Armstead.

Scott Brewer
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill that sparked some debate in the Senate has made its way to the House of Delegates. It would make changes to the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, or the state’s right-to-work law.

The debate over whether West Virginia should be the 26th Right-to-Work state began during last year’s Legislative session.

Right-to-work laws make it illegal to require a worker in a union shop to pay union dues and fees if he or she is not a member.

Union’s argue that worker, however, is still benefiting from the contract negotiations the union pays for, without contributing to the cost.

On The Legislature Today, education is once again debated on the Senate floor, but this time the education chair shares concerns over a bill he’s sponsoring.

In the House, delegates progress a Right-to-Work bill one that makes changes to the current law being challenged in the state’s court system.

And advocates are pushing second chance laws that they say will help felons reintegrate into their communities and keep them out of prison in the future.

Those stories and more on The Legislature Today.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

At the start of this legislative session, Republican leaders warned that public education could be on the chopping block, seeing reductions that the system has historically been protected from. During a recent press conference, both House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael said they’ll work to mitigate the harm to classrooms and teachers, but funding will be reduced. The House’s Education Chairman says with those funding reductions, lawmakers are working to give county school systems more flexibility in how they spend their limited dollars.

Ed Evans
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Courtesy Patrol is a state funded roadside assistance service. But as members in the House continue to look for places to cut to balance the 2018 budget, delegates have set their sights on the program’s $5 million budget.

The courtesy patrol has been around for almost 20 years. It’s a non-profit of the Citizens Conservation Corp through a contract with the West Virginia Division of Highways.To-date, the patrol has received over 3 million calls and employs nearly 100 people.

Eric Householder
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Department of Commerce gave the House and Senate Finance committees a presentation Monday morning to explore the state's competitiveness in attracting businesses.

The Commerce department also asked for a significant increase in its funding. However, that request collided with the reality of the state’s dire budget situation.

Patricia Rucker
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill to prohibit any Common Core-based education standards from being taught in West Virginia classrooms was taken up in the Senate’s Education committee Saturday. The standards have been debated for years at the statehouse and now lawmakers are looking at legislation that specifies what can be taught.

Perry Bennet / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Democrats in the House of Delegates Thursday attempted to change the scheduling classification of marijuana so it could be prescribed by doctors.

House Bill 2526 focuses on adding drugs to the state’s scheduling system, a classification of both prescription and illicit drugs. These classifications are referred to as Schedule I, II, IV, and V.

Cathy Justice
Daniel Walker / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

First Lady Cathy Justice spoke at her first solo event Wednesday since her husband’s election. The First Lady helped recognize International Women’s Day at the Capitol, kicking off Women’s History Month.

Robert Thompson
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House of Delegates are looking for ways to help grow the state’s agriculture industry. A bill in the chamber’s Agriculture Committee would require the state to purchase more locally grown food.

House Bill 2566 creates the West Virginia Fresh Food Act. As introduced, the bill would require state funded institutions to purchase at least 20 percent of their produce from West Virginia farmers.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A legislative audit released earlier this year encouraged lawmaker to get rid of the state’s certificate of need process. A Certificate of Need is essentially approval from the state to open a new hospital, clinic or health related facility. Senators have introduced bills to get rid of the process, but delegates are trying to save it.

Kelli Sobonya
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill increasing penalties for drug traffickers was largely the focus of the House floor session Friday. The bill is part of the House leadership’s plans to crack down on people selling drugs in West Virginia to curb the substance abuse epidemic.

House Bill 2648 would increase the penalties for trafficking or manufacturing a controlled substance while in the presence of a minor, making it a felony. The bill carries a penalty of a three year prison term without the ability to receive parole. 

Kayla Kessinger
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

Members in the House voted on a bill Thursday that would terminate the West Virginia Women’s Commission and put roughly $150,000 back into the general revenue budget. 

The West Virginia Women’s Commission was created by the state Legislature in 1977. It’s a small, bi-partisan program under the state Department of Health and Human Resources that advocates, educates, and promotes women’s issues.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House voted on a bill Wednesday that aligns West Virginia's standards for some discharges into the state’s waters with federal limits. Opponents say the bill could put West Virginia’s drinking water supply at risk, but supporters maintain it has the potential to attract new industry to the state.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill aimed at giving the state’s two largest universities more control over their own affairs advanced in the House of Delegates Monday.

House Bill 2542 is a large bill, 33 pages in fact, with several provisions. But its main intent is to give the state’s higher education institutions more flexibility in hiring and salary rates.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates are beginning to consider bills that would cut some state agencies, no matter how big or how small they are. Members of one committee Friday looked at a bill that would put an end to an agency that receives about $150,000 in annual funding.

House Bill 2646 would get rid of the West Virginia Women’s Commission. It’s a small state agency with just two employees, one of whom works part-time. The House Government Organization Committee considered the bill Friday morning – where its sponsors defended the proposal.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice waves to the crowd as he delivers his inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Charleston, W.Va.
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

Gov. Jim Justice is calling for legislation to give him authority to furlough state workers to help address the government's budget deficits.

The recently elected Democratic governor earlier proposed tapping the state's rainy day fund to close a projected $123 million gap in the current fiscal year.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Lawmakers in the House have approved a bill that would increase the penalties for littering in the state.

Littering on public or private property in West Virginia is already a misdemeanor, but House Bill 2303 increases the fines and community service hours associated with it.  

Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

Members of the House are considering a bill that changes the way lawmakers report political donations during the legislative session.

House Bill 2319 would require candidates running for legislative offices, or their candidate committees, to disclose any fundraising they do during the legislative session to the Secretary of State’s Office within 5 days of the fundraising event.

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