House of Delegates

Stephen Baldwin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Both the House and Senate are considering bills this year to change the state’s education standards once again. It’s a reoccurring theme at the statehouse since Republican lawmakers took control of the chamber in 2015.

In the Senate, lawmakers have approved a bill that does not replace the current college and career ready standards taught in schools, but calls for a cyclical review of those standards with the input of West Virginia teachers.

In the House, however, the discussion over potential changes is just beginning.

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.

On The Legislature Today, Governor Jim Justice is declaring a symbolic State of Emergency in West Virginia due to Republican plans to cut Medicaid dollars.

Legislative leaders released their budget framework last week that would cut the program by $50 million, they say. Justice say the cuts will result in a healthcare crisis in the state.

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.

Amy Summers
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the House’s Judiciary Committee are considering a bill that its sponsors hope will curb West Virginia’s nursing shortage.

House Bill 2522 would enter West Virginia into an agreement with other states to allow nurses to practice across state lines without having to get multiple licenses. The compact would include both registered nurses, or RNs, and licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, who packed the committee room Friday as members debated the bill.

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.

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.

Isaac Sponaugle
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members in the House of Delegates have considered a number of bills this legislative session that increase the penalties for breaking various laws. At least three of those bills have focused on drug crimes which Republican lawmakers say is in response to the state’s substance abuse epidemic.

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.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates have approved a bill that its sponsors hope will expand access to mental and behavioral health medications.

House Bill 2509 allows physicians to prescribe certain controlled substances through telemedicine technologies – like over a video call. Doctors are currently prohibited from prescribing certain types of medications over telemedicine systems, including narcotics like oxycodone and morphine—drugs that have been abused in recent years in the state.

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.

Nondiscrimination Bill Receiving Bi-Partisan Support

Mar 2, 2017
WV Legislative Photography, Perry Bennett

What do you think of when you hear "discrimination"? Black Lives Matter? LGBT rights? Do you think of someone who used to look at you funny? A childhood bully?

Everyone has something they think of when they hear the word discrimination. Joseph Cohen Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia said that's because discrimination touches everyone.

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

The House voted on two education-related bills Tuesday – one that would give The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind access to the School Building Authority and another aimed at giving higher education institutions more control of their own affairs.

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.

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