The Legislature Today

At the legislature today, there was some intense debate on the house floor as lawmakers took up two bills that are priorities for the new majority. Also at the Capitol, labor unions rally against a Senate bill repealing the state's prevailing wage. And West Virignia's craft beer makers are seeking some regulatory relief. They have the backing of Governor Tomblin, but what do lawmakers think of the industry? We'll meet the chairs of the small business committees to find out on The Legislature Today.

  At the legislature today, as a measles outbreak makes national headlines, a senate committee considered a bill to provide  religious and medical exemptions for vaccinations. But after further discussion, the religious exemption is off the table.  We’ll talk about this and other health issues with the Chairman of the House Health Committee on The Legislature Today.

At the legislature today, lawmakers were updated on a bill that passed two years ago and its effect on overcrowding in the state's jails and prisons. But correction officials say it will take more money to continue implementing the new law.

And does the state Public Service Commission have too much control over your local water utility? Some small public service districts say yes.

These stories plus a look the education issues facing lawmakers on The Legislature Today.

At the legislature today, there was confusion in the House Government Organization Committee this morning as lawmakers discuss a bill about an airport located in West Virginia but apparently governed by officials in Maryland.  

We also continue to meet the new leaders at this legislative session.  Joining us tonight the chairs of the powerful finance committees on The Legislature Today. 

At the legislature today, the first of many tort reforms bills was up for debate in the House of Delegates.  Republicans have said for years such legal reforms are necessary to make the state more business friendly. 

Also, lawmakers hear about a new idea to improve roads and highways. 

These stories, plus we’ll talk with the new minority leaders on The Legislature Today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPVbOQ1o9j4

As the first full week of the session comes to a close, bills are slowly moving through the legislative process. 

We’ll review the week with Jon Mattise of the AP and Mandi Cardosi of The State Journal, who are also covering the issues around the Rotunda.

And, we’ll profile Senator Donna Boley of Pleasants County.  A veteran lawmaker she has gone from the only Republican in the Senate to now, the only woman there.  

High drama in the House of Delegates as tempers flare over the repeal of a bill regarding alternative fuels and renewable energy, even though the bill passed overwhelmingly.

Pro-choice advocates rallied at the state capitol today over the newly introduced bill to restrict abortions in West Virginia.

And we’ll talk about the public education system with state Board of Education president Gayle Manchin.

  Speaker Tim Armstead takes over as the first Republican to fill the top role in the House of Delegates for the first time since the Capitol has been in its current location. But what are his and his party's plans?

The Department of Transportation gives a budget presentation in the House Finance Committee and concerns remain over the quality of roads affected by drilling the Marcellus Shale.

That and more on this episode of The Legislature Today.

Senate President Bill Cole joins us to talk about legislative priorities after the Republican takeover following November's midterm election. 

The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor pulled a bill from the committee's agenda Tuesday, Senate Bill 245, a bill that aims to repeal the state's prevailing wage requirement.   

Also, members of the House Agriculture committee handle a bill that looks to use old mountaintop removal sites for hog farming.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin joined us to speak about another tight budget year and how his legislative agenda will play out in a GOP-controlled statehouse.

A piece of legislation that would repeal a 2009 energy bill progressed through both chambers at the state house Monday, but that bill is changing shape as it makes its way through both chambers. 

Also, as session began last week there were some tense moments during a discussion of rules in the House of Delegates.

Danny Jones
City of Charleston

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones says he will meet with Governor Tomblin very soon and ask him to veto a gun bill passed by the legislature last week.

Senate Bill 317 makes gun laws uniform state wide. But the bill defines a municipally owned recreation facility as a swimming pool, recreation center, sports facility housing an after school program or other similar facility where children are regularly present.  The bill permits a person to carry a lawfully possessed weapon into such a center, as long as it is stored out of view.

Mayor Jones is pretty upset about it.

Follow along with the action in both the Senate and House of Delegates with this Twitter list curated by @wvpublicnews. Members on this include our reporters from The Legislature Today, other members of the Capitol press corps, and lawmakers themselves.

At midnight on Saturday, March 8, The 81st West Virginia Legislature will adjourn. This post will be the home for The Legislature Today's online coverage right up until the final moments.

News Director Beth Vorhees, Senate Reporter Ashton Marra, House Reporter Aaron Payne, and Digital Editor Dave Mistich will curate this post by aggregating tweets, posting audio of important moments on the chamber floors.

Be sure to keep refreshing this page to see the latest.

The House passed the Water Resources Protection and Management Act on Wednesday. The Senate passes their version of the budget bill and calls for $125 million to be used from the Rainy Day Fund. Healthcare lobbyist Thom Stevens outlines some of the more than 200 bills this session relating to healthcare, including the late-term abortion bill and a bill that would make pseudoephedrine available by  prescription only.

The House Judiciary Committee deals with a constitutional amendment to partner with the establishment of a Future Fund and also deals with a bill that would change awards given from the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund, Members of the Senate bring their local issues to the floor and the Natural Resources Committee sees controversy over a bill relating to deer farming. Glynis Board delivers a special report on frack waste and what researchers think is best to do with it.

The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee amends and passes a House bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. The House Finance Committee removes an amendment to the water protection bill that would force the state Bureau for Public Health to monitor the health those affected by the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries. West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee speaks about his appointment as permanent chief of the school and his vision for its future.

An update on Governor Tomblin's legislative agenda and members of the Senate Government Organization Committee discuss a House bill that would reform the state Ethics Commission and reduce the number of members it requires. House committees discuss bills from the Senate, including the Future Fund and pay raises for teachers. Ted Boettner of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy about various issues, including taxes, the future fund, and the state budget.

Delegates from the House explain their feelings on how the session has gone thus far and Senators debate a bill that would establish a retirement program for private and small businesses that's backed by State Teasurer John Perdue.  Also, Phil Kabler of The Charleston Gazette and Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail discuss the state's finances, from the Governor dipping into the Rainy Day Fund to the budget hearings that will immediately follow the end of the regular session.

Bills relating to abortion, drilling waste, and the attorney general's office that were controversial in the House now make their way through the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee discusses expanding pretrial release programs. Soon-to-be-retiring Senator Brooks McCabe discusses the future of West Virginia through his thoughts on teacher pay raises, sustainable water quality, and the future fund.

The House of Delegates went through 60 items on their daily calendar on "Crossover Day," the last day for bills to be out of their house of origin. But, House Judiciary heard from environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies as they examined Senate Bill 373, the bill that would regulate above-ground storage facilities. The Senate votes on 11 bills, debates three possible Constitutional Amendments, and also votes on the teacher pay raise bill.

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