House of Delegates

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Our Children Our Future campaign wrapped up a two day symposium by taking over the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber. 

The final session of the symposium asked participants to act as delegates and advocate for the issues they want to see the legislature take up next year.

West Virginia Legislature

A member of the House of Delegates will withdraw from the race for the 35th district amidst recent legal troubles and allegations related to her living situation.

Republican Kanawha County Delegate Suzette Raines was accused by the state Democratic Executive Committee for lying about where she lives. The committee also accused her of not filing campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State’s office or campaign disclosures with the state Ethics Commission.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia lawmakers are working out kinks in a budget that gives public workers raises and digs into reserves.
 
The House of Delegates and Senate are meeting this week to finalize the state spending plan for next fiscal year.
 House of Delet

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.

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.

Daniel Walker

There is little doubt that the bill aimed to protect water resources in the state, in response to the Jan. 9 spill of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries, has been the most closely watched and widely discussed bill of the session.

Although the Senate passed SB 373 less that two weeks after its introduction, its passage  in the House took far longer--a result of a triple committee reference that offered a chance for roughly 60 delegates to offer amendments to the bill. Delegates also labored over 20 amendments on the bill's Third Reading Wednesday night before deciding to send the bill back to the Senate.

Here's a few highlights from Wednesday night's floor session leading up to SB 373's passage:

Aaron Payne

While the House Judiciary Committee was unable to get through all 19 items in the morning session, they were able to approve a constitutional amendment that would partner with Senate President Jeff Kessler’s Future Fund bill.

The resolution would put the specific parameters of the fund into West Virginia’s constitution.

The House Finance Committee removed several of the sections added by the other House committees in the water resource protection bill.

One of which was related to medical monitoring which the committee determined was a redundancy because Dr. Letitia Tierney from the DHHR explained during the meeting her office plans to pursue testing whether it is in the bill or not.

Daniel Walker

The House Judiciary Committee looked over Senate Bill 461 which would create the Future Fund.

No substantive changes were suggested by the committee.

While none of the delegates opposed the idea of setting aside extra money from severance tax from natural resources for the sake of future projects, there were concerns the language of the bill would allow future legislatures to change the code and use the money for other purposes.

West Virginia Legislative Services

Members of the House Judiciary Committee spent more than 9 hours debating and discussing 50 amendments to Senate Bill 373 Sunday into Monday.

The bill is meant to regulate above ground storage tanks and protect the state’s water resources in response to the January 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries in Charleston that resulted in the contamination of 300,000 West Virginians’ drinking water.

Three Senate Bills and Where the House Stands

Feb 28, 2014
Aaron Payne

Senate Bill 373: The Water Protection Bill

The House has had S.B. 373 for nearly a month and Thursday, a bipartisan group of delegates sent a letter to Governor Tomblin requesting a special session with the sole focus on this bill.

One senate leader was not pleased with the request. Senate Majority Leader John Unger said he and his colleagues would refuse an extended session because he feels the House has had the bill long enough.

Aaron Payne

Among the seven bills discussed by the House Judiciary Committee Thursday was Senate Bill 307, authorizing community corrections programs to operate pretrial release programs. Those programs could range from work release to decreasing the cost of an issued bond.

The purpose of the program is to decrease the cost of counties having to hold these people in jails. Pilot programs have been implemented in a few counties such as Ohio and Wood.

Aaron Payne

Senate Bill 373 relating to water resources protection was sent to the House nearly one month ago to go through three committee stops. Two weeks ago the bill made it through the Health and Human Resource Committee with amendments to be sent to the Judiciary Committee. Wednesday, the second committee used its meeting to hear from Downstream Strategies President Evan Hansen.

A motion to discharge House Bill 2364 or the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act from committee and put it up for immediate vote was rejected on February 11th.

Government Fraud Prevention Act Downed by House

Feb 25, 2014
Daniel Walker

House Bill 4001 was introduced on the first day of the session as the False Claims Act. However, opponents of the bill referred to it as the “sue-and-settle” bill.

The bill offers monetary compensation to whistleblowers who bring forward information regarding fraudulent claims made against the government. That is, if the case is successful.

W.Va. House Looking to Double-Tap (Debt) Zombies

Feb 24, 2014
Daniel Walker

A rule (#2: Double-Tap) for dispatching zombies in the movie Zombieland is essentially being applied by the House of Delegates in regard to killing “Zombie Debts” with H.B. 4360.

Zombie debts are defined as debts attempted to be collected in which the statue of limitations has passed.

The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on a bill that would affect the way tolls are collected in the state.

House Bill 4156 as introduced would create the Safe and Efficient Parkway Act, authorizes electronic collection and enforcement of tolls.
 
The bill would only apply to the current tolls on the turnpike in regard to enforcement as it is already equipped with the technology such as photographing license plates to detect violations.

Daniel Walker

House Bill 4001 was reported to the floor earlier in the session from the House Judiciary Committee. However, concerns from the business sector lead House leadership to request the bill be sent back to address those concerns.

Daniel Walker

House Bill 4409 creates the Valued Employee Retention Program with the goal of giving employers incentive to reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off.

It requires employers to enter an agreement to submit a plan explaining how instead of laying off their employees they would reduce their hours. In exchange, the employee could get unemployment benefits proportional to the amount of hours that they’ve been reduced.

'Brunch Bill' for Alcohol Sales Passes W.Va. House

Feb 17, 2014
Daniel Walker

The bill that incited the most debate during Monday’s floor session was one that would allow private licensees to begin alcohol sales at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays instead of 1:00 p.m. as dictated by current code. Aaron Payne reports.

House Bill 4454 would allow restaurants and tourism destinations such as a bed and breakfast to serve alcoholic beverages as part of Sunday brunch.

Supporters of the bill said that it could boost profits from tourism in the state.

Pages