WV Legislature

Judicial System
12:00 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Lawmakers Receive Update on Magistrate Court Study

Credit West Virginia Legislature

In between debating special session bills this week, lawmakers managed to have a few of their regularly scheduled interim meetings. During one of those meetings, legislators were updated by a national group on a study of the state's magistrate system.

The study of the state’s magistrate system started following the 2013 legislative session during which lawmakers faced some debate over magistrate pay.

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Abortion Regulations
4:42 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Tomblin: "I Will Veto Abortion Bill Again"

Credit Office of the Governor

Governor Tomblin released a statement Thursday discouraging lawmakers from calling themselves into a special session to take up previously vetoed abortion legislation.

House Bill 4588 would have created a statewide ban of abortions after 20 weeks. Both the House and Senate passed the bill, but Tomblin vetoed the legislation calling it unconstitutional. Several courts in other states have knocked down similar bans.

"Should members of the Legislature take the same action again, I will again veto the bill," Tomblin said in a release.

"I am proud of my pro-life record, and I would be happy to work with members of the Legislature during the 2015 regular session to pass a bill that is constitutional."

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Statehouse
3:44 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

House GOP: One More Day of Special Session

House Minority Leader Tim Armstead confers with House Speaker Tim Miley before Tuesday's floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers will spend one more day in a special session in part because of Republican members of the House.

Delegates returned for morning floor session Tuesday, passed all six bills forward from second to third reading and adjourned for the day, a move that was a little unexpected by both chamber leaders.

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Constitutional Powers
3:42 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Does W.Va.'s Governor Have Too Much Power?

Gov. Tomblin signed a ceremonial bill after the completion of the 2014 legislative session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The question of gubernatorial power in West Virginia was forced into the spotlight after two decisions by Governor Tomblin following the 2014 legislative session; two vetoes, to be more specific. Now lawmakers, the Governor’s Office and even the Attorney General are trying to figure out what’s next for these rejected bills.

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Gun Ordinance
3:53 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Morrisey Files Motion to Dismiss Charleston Gun Lawsuit

Attorney General Patrick Morissey testifying before a Senate committee earlier this year.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed motions to intervene in and dismiss a Kanawha County Circuit Court case challenging a new state gun control law.

The bill passed during this year’s legislative session strives to make gun ordinances uniform across the state.

In a release, Morrisey said the case should be dismissed because the City of Charleston did not name a defendant. Instead, the city is asking the circuit court judge to rule on the "validity" and "construction" of the new law.

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Gun Ordinance
8:56 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Martinsburg OKs Preliminary Firearm Regulations

Downtown Martinsburg.
Credit Martinsburg Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Martinsburg City Council has given preliminary approval to four proposed firearms ordinances designed to bring the city into compliance with a new state law.
 
The law prohibits municipalities from enacting firearms regulations that are greater than those of the state and federal governments.

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Legislature
7:39 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Minimum Wage Bill Will Force Lawmakers into Special Session

Gov. Tomblin signs SB 373 Tuesday afternoon. He signed that bill just hours before approving the minimum wage hike.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawmakers will be called into a special session slated for May to deal with a newly signed bill to increase the minimum wage, according to a press release issued Tuesday evening by Governor Tomblin’s office.

The bill will raise the current $7.25 an hour minimum wage to $8 on Jan. 1, 2015, and again to $8.75 the following year.

Tomblin signed the minimum wage bill Tuesday after stating earlier in the day he had some concerns about overtime provisions and maximum hours in the bill. Those provisions could unintentionally costs cities thousands, he said.

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Chemical Leak
3:58 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Governor Signs Bill to Protect W.Va.'s Water

Gov. Tomblin was surrounded by members of both the House and Senate as he signed SB 373.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the same day West Virginia American Water workers began changing carbon filters at their Charleston filtration plant, Gov. Tomblin signed a bill designed to prevent future chemical leaks, like the one that affected that company’s customers, from ever happening again.

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Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act
6:12 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Bill Protecting Pregnant Workers Receives Signature

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Credit Office of the Governor

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved a measure to help accommodate pregnant women in the workplace.

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Crime Victim's Compensation
4:36 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Governor Signs Bill Eliminating Meth Lab Clean Up Aid

Credit Drug Enforcement Agency

The governor has signed off on changes made to the West Virginia crime victim compensation awards.
 
Changes signed into law Monday no longer allow for property owners to seek compensation for meth lab cleanup. In the past, up to $10,000 in compensation was granted per site.
 
The bill increases victim relocation reimbursements from $2,000 to $2,500.
 

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W.Va. Politics
5:36 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

W.Va. GOP Giving State Dems a Run for Their Money

Credit West Virginia Legislature

By tying state Democrats to President Obama and Washington, West Virginia Republicans hope to claim congressional wins and end Democrats' 83-year-rule in the state House of Delegates.

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W.Va. Politics
4:20 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Miley to House: Prepare for Special Session

Speaker Tim Miley
Credit WV Office of Legislative Services

House Speaker Tim Miley has told members of the West Virginia House of Delegates to prepare for a special session at the end of the week.

Wednesday Governor Tomblin announced an extension of the budget session which would have ended Thursday.

Miley told members they will instead put a compromised budget bill to a vote Friday afternoon and adjourn. Then, he believes, the governor will call the extraordinary session.

Here is a list of bills Miley said will likely be taken up during that session:

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Budget Woes
12:02 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

The Three Bills Lawmakers Need to Balance the Budget

Throughout the final night of the session, Delegates and Senators could both be seen on the floors of the opposite chambers advocating for issues they support.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the legislature are feeling the backlash of bills that failed on the final night of the session. There are three specific bills that are putting not only this year’s, but also next year’s budgets in jeopardy. Jeopardy of a lowered bond rating, something lawmakers do not want to let happen.

On the final night of the legislative session there were two bills that needed to pass—Senate Bill 344 and 345—in order to supplement the finances of some pretty important programs.

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W.Va. Politics
3:25 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

The Final Hours: What You Didn't See

Sen. Brooks McCabe takes the podium to preside as President on his final night of regular session as a member of the Senate. The senator is not seeking re-election.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

While most of the night is strictly business, the final hours of the legislative session often have some light-hearted moments scattered throughout. Here are a few things you didn’t see in the news.

Sen. Sam Cann rose to speak to House Bill 4343, the West Virginia Launch Pad Act, but maybe he forgot he’d been appointed to a new chamber:

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House of Delegates
5:59 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Four Senate Bills the House Passed on the Next-to-Last Day of the Regular Session

The House works on legislation during the next-to-last day of the regular session.
Credit 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.

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Wage Increase
5:00 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Senate Passes Minimum Wage Hike

Credit Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill to raise the minimum wage by $1.50 over three years.

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Drilling Waste
4:39 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Senate Approves Bill for Frack Waste

Sen. Ron Stollings discuss a bill with Senators David Nohe, Chris Walters and Bill Cole.
Credit Ashton Marra

Members of the state Senate unanimously passed a bill Friday allowing for the drill cuttings from natural gas fracking sites to be disposed of in county or privately owned landfills.

Currently, the drill cuttings can either be disposed of by burying them on site or deposited in landfills, but Senator Herb Snyder said landfills are the most environmentally friendly option.

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House of Delegates
6:36 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Bill to Require Construction Workers to Participate in Safety Program Passes

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.

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Budget Woes
4:39 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Senate Budget Uses $125 Million from Rainy Day Fund

Senate President Jeff Kessler meets with leadership during a floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators voted on their version of the budget bill Thursday.

It included the governor’s recommended pay raises for school service personnel and State Police forensic lab technicians, but Senate Bill 306 only accounts for the $837 teacher pay raise passed by the upper chamber. The House has changed that bill to include a $1,000 across the board raise.

But Finance Chair Senator Roman Prezioso explained the Senate has not yet voted on House Bill 4333, known as the Haircut Bill for short. The bill adjusts lottery appropriations of about $40 million to balance the budget.

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Chemical Leak
1:40 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Five Things That Happened Before W.Va. House Passed the Water Resources Protection & Management Act

Credit 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:

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