House of Delegates

House Approves W. Va. Launch Pad Act

Feb 14, 2014
Daniel Walker

House Bill 4343 provides economic benefits for businesses working with technologies not currently in West Virginia if they locate or expand in launch pads areas in the state.

These benefits would begin on January 1, 2015 and last until December 30, 2030 and include state and local tax relief and assistance in moving a business here.

Daniel Walker

In Thursday’s House session, one bill on third reading and two bills mentioned in a speech dealt with the health and well-being of West Virginia’s children.

H.B. 4237 would protect the health of children from new products alternative to the traditional sources of tobacco.

These new products include electronic cigarettes and cigars and dissolving products such as toothpicks, gum and lozenges.

Abortion-Restricting Bill Rejected With Tie Vote

Feb 11, 2014
Daniel Walker

A vote resulting in a tie is a rarity in the legislature but one occurred Tuesday in the House of Delegates.

There were no bills up for passage but, with it being “Pro-Life Day” at the Capitol, there was an attempt made to discharge House Bill 2364 from committee to be put to a vote on the floor.

Aaron Payne

Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

The House Finance Committee amended H.B. 4283 to increase minimum wage by 75 cents to $8.00 per hour by January of 2015 and then add another 75 cents by January of 2016 to total $8.75. The amendment delayed those changes from July 2014 and 2015 respectively so that businesses could have time to budget for the increase.

Daniel Walker

After a brief delay, the House convened for its final floor session of the week.

House Bill 4010 creates the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act. It was approved and recommend for enactment in all 50 states by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws.

Delegate Mark Hunt explained exactly what the Act would entail before it was voted on.

Daniel Walker

With the primary election coming in May and the general election in November, the House Judiciary Committee took a look at current code that prohibits elected officials and candidates from soliciting public employees, discussing H.B. 4414, relating to the solicitation of public employees by an elected officer of the state.

On Wednesday the House passed bill 4284, also known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The bill’s purpose would be to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace.

The following would be considered an unlawful employment practice:

The day after the House of Delegates’ public hearing on last month’s chemical leak and the safety of the water supply, lawmakers began the process of incorporating suggestions to strengthen Senate Bill 373.

While some speakers at the hearing felt that there were too many empty chairs at the hearing, Del. Don Perdue said the turnout from his fellow delegates was satisfactory.

Before sending Senate Bill 373 through its Health and Human Resources, Judiciary and Finance Committees, the House of Delegates allowed citizens directly affected by the chemical leak to voice their concerns and offer suggestions to the bill in a public hearing in the chamber

While the stories and testimonies were different, the overall message was a call to action for lawmakers.

Some of the highlights of the points speakers made were:

Daniel Walker

It took 12 days from its introduction for the Senate to pass Bill 373.

It has been several days since its introduction to the House and the bill has yet to be seen by its first committee.

Aaron Payne

Committee members heard from various offices that make up the department of transportation - the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Highways, the State Rail Authority, the Division of Public Transit, the Public Port Authority, the Aeronautics Commission and the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Like in many other budget hearings, officials from each office laid out how they will handle their finances to deal with the upcoming tight fiscal years.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House of Delegates is paving a long legislative road for new regulations on above-ground storage tanks.
 
     But Speaker Tim Miley says his chamber isn't stalling the chemical spill-inspired bill.
 
     Miley says giving the bill three committee stops doesn't mean it won't go anywhere. Often, assigning a bill many committees shows leadership isn't seriously considering it.
 
     Miley says Senate Bill 373 could take longer in the House. A public hearing will take place in the House chamber Monday.
 

Aaron Payne

The House currently has one member that cannot participate in voting or House activities due to military service. Delegate Joshua Nelson has been absent for the second session of the 81st Legislature while on active duty.

House Resolution 6 would allow participation for Nelson and future members not physically present while serving in the military in House proceedings and voting by electronic teleconferencing.

Aaron Payne

Three bills were voted on and passed by the House of Delegates Tuesday.

H.B. 2387

The bill relates to reasonable accommodations under the West Virginia Fair Housing Act for persons with disabilities who need assistive animals. The bill would not only include seeing-eye dogs, but also support animals that one might not think of such as therapy dogs for returning veterans with PTSD.

Aaron Payne

H.B. 4006 adds those who access with intent to view as those who can be convicted of possession of child pornography. The bill would also add enhanced penalties for such offenses with aggravating circumstances. If the material contains more than 500 images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the offense is a felony punishable by a sentence of 18 months to five years and a fine of 10,000 dollars.

Aaron Payne

Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia DEP Randy Huffman presented the proposed budget to the committee, relating how the organization would deal with the governor’s 7.5 percent cut.

Huffman assured there would be no loss in personnel. However, paying the personnel a fair and competitive wage was a challenge.

Delegate Ron Walters asked how proposed water protection legislation would affect the DEP financially.

“We’re doing an inventory, right now,” Huffman said.

“We’re going to try in the next few days to get an estimate.”

Daniel Walker

Felicity was a two-year-old-girl from Grant County who wandered away alone from a birthday party and was viciously attacked by two dogs. It took repeated surgeries for her to recover from her injuries. Because there was no criminal negligence on the part of the dogs’ owners, no legal action could be taken by her parents in a criminal or private case under current law according to the W. Va. Supreme Court of Appeals.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the legislature continues to work on how to deal with the effects of the chemical spill, the House of Delegates looked at proposed legislation dealing with future disasters in terms of preparedness and flood insurance.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security discussed House Bill 4147. The bill deals with what can be done in a State of Preparedness.

Aaron Payne

House Bill 4135 would establish the first Thursday in May as the West Virginia Day of Prayer.

House Bill 4014 will increase the criminal penalties for littering in West Virginia.

Part of the bill divides the level of offense by the quantity of the waste into the categories of “not exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet,” “greater than 100 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in, but less than 500 pounds in weight or 216 cubic feet” and “greater than 500 pounds in weight or 216 cubic feet.”

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