WV Legislature

Chemical Leak
4:28 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Environmental Official: Coal Companies Don't Want Stigma of MCHM

At the statehouse Friday, members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources continued their hearings on the Elk River chemical spill with testimonies from representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Response Mike Dorsey told lawmakers he’s been working to remediate the site since the initial incident in January.

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County Pay Raises
4:15 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Committee Moves Bill to Allow County Employee Pay Increases

Senators Donna Boley and Greg Tucker on the Senate floor.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A Senate committee Friday approved Senate Bill 379 to remove a salary cap for county employees, if the county finds they have the funds.

Originally the bill required a 12 percent pay raise, but it was amended to ensure lawmakers weren’t passing an unfunded mandate.

“We are not voting for an increase for elected officials. We are lifting a cap in which they can work with their own money. So, this is no state money,” Sen. John Unger said during the meeting.

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Teacher Pay
11:26 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Senators Remove Across the Board Teacher Pay Raise

Senate Finance Chair Roman Prezioso discusses legislation with Senator Doug Facemire on the state Senate floor.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate Finance Committee Friday morning voted to remove language from a bill increasing teachers' salaries by $1,000 across the board.

Members of the Senate Education Committee voted last week to increase the raise from the initial 2 percent promised by Governor Tomblin during his State of the State Address in January. 

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House Judiciary
6:08 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

False Claims and Taxpayer Protection Act Once Again Approved to House Floor

House Judiciary Committee discusses H.B. 4001, creating the False Claims and Taxpayer Protection Act.
Credit 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.

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Gas Prices
4:14 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Senate Debates Bill on Unfair Trade Practices

Senate President Jeff Kessler at the podium during a floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Legislators stood Thursday to speak to legislation that has not yet made it to the floor. Senate Bill 368 was introduced by Senator Herb Snyder early in the session repealing unfair trade practices.

The bill focuses on a section of code written in the late 1930s. At the time, many states and the federal government put laws in place that prevented major retailers from undercutting the prices of mom and pop stores, forcing them out of business.

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Drug Overdoses
4:03 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Bill to Protect Overdose Victims Advances in Senate

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee consider Senate Bill 419, the Overdose Prevention Act.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators amended a bill in committee Thursday they felt contained too many loopholes for people seeking emergency assistance during a drug overdose.

Senate Bill 419 is known as the Overdose Prevention Act.

After interim study and recommendation by the Joint Committee on Health, it originally provided immunities for certain offenses for a person who seeks medical help for him or herself or aide for another person who is experiencing an overdose, but some senators were worried the immunities were too broad.

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Paving Cycle
4:54 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Senator Says Rainy Day Fund Could Be Used to Improve Roads

Members of the West Virginia Senate.
Credit Ashton Marra

At the legislature Wednesday, one Senator urged his colleagues to take action on a hotly debated topic, the condition of the state roads. He’s asking fellow lawmakers to take action this session to improve paving across West Virginia.

Senator Robert Plymale stood at the end of the upper chamber’s morning floor session to bring attention to an issue often talked about in the legislature, but one he says lawmakers have failed in recent years to take action on.

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"Green Rolling Hills"
3:41 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

WATCH: W.Va. Schools for Deaf and Blind Perform for Lawmakers

Members of the state Senate listen as students from the W.Va. Schools for the Deaf and Blind perform "Green Rolling Hills" before a floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra

Students from around West Virginia who attend the state Schools for the Deaf and Blind visited the Capitol today to perform a medley of songs centered on their home state.

Located on 79 acres in Romney in Hampshire County, the school was established in 1870. Today enrollment totals about 120 children and teens.

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West Virginia Morning
7:26 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Wyoming County Water Problems, Rx-Only Pseudoephedrine in Senate, & House's Valued Employees Bill

On this West Virginia Morning, state legislators are striving to find ways to fix some water problems in Wyoming County.

Also, the State Senate continues to debate prescription drug legislation, and the House looks at a bill to protect employees from being fired.

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Budget Woes
6:18 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Senate Kills Two Budget Proposals Leaving $17 Million Gap

Members of the Senate Transportation Committee met Tuesday at the Capitol.
Credit Ashton Marra

Two bills proposed by the governor to fill general revenue budget holes died in a Senate committee Tuesday. The failure now leaves about a $17 million gap for the Finance Committee Chairs to plug at the end of session.

Subcommittees of Senate Transportation and Infrastructure held the two bills without making a decision for almost a month.

The first, Senate Bill 329, would take about $4 million from the state Special Railroad and Intermodal Enhancement Fund and deposit them instead in the general revenue budget for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016.

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Drug Tests
6:52 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Bill Advances Closing Loopholes in Coal Miner Drug Testing

Credit Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

In the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee Tuesday, Senators took up a bill meant to close loopholes in the drug testing system for mine workers in safety positions.

There is already a notification system in place for any worker who fails, refuses to submit to or attempts to falsify a drug test.

Notification is sent to the state Office of Miner’s Health Safety and Training which keeps a record and may block that person’s next attempt to obtain a mining job.

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House Finance
5:43 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Bill to Keep West Virginians Working Passes in House Finance Committee

The House Finance Committee goes over H.B. 4409, creating the Valued Employee Retention Program.
Credit 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.

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Meth Labs
4:58 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Senate Passes Bill Requiring Prescriptions for Pseudoephedrine

The tally board detailing the Senators' votes on Senate Bill 6, requiring a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine.
Credit Ashton Marra

Senators put the highly anticipated prescription only pseudoephedrine bill to a vote Tuesday, but only after receiving a last minute amendment on the floor.

Senate Judiciary Chair Corey Palumbo moved to amend the bill to address someone buying cold medicine in another state and bringing it back to West Virginia.

The amendment allows a court hearing before being tried on a drug charge when a person without a prior drug conviction is caught with less than 3.6 grams, or the federal daily limit.

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Privacy Concerns
9:21 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Senator: Data Collection System Keeps Personal Information Confidential

Members of the state Senate gathered in the chamber for a floor session Monday.
Credit Ashton Marra

Senators took up Senate Bill 420 Monday to amend the state P-20W Longitudinal Data System.

The system collects statistics from K-12, colleges, universities and community colleges tracking student achievement.

The bill adds child care and workforce data to the system giving a broader view of a student’s success. It also requires the information be brought to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability to ensure transparency.

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House of Delegates
6:01 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

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

Delegate John Overington speaks to his amendment that would make 2 a.m. the new time for last call.
Credit 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.

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House of Delegates
5:55 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

House Approves W. Va. Launch Pad Act

Delegate Doug Skaff speaks in support of H.B. 4343, the West Virginia Launch Pad Act.
Credit 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.

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Prison Overcrowding
4:43 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Should the Division of Corrections Become a Separate State Department?

Senate President Jeff Kessler presents DOC Commissioner Jim Rubenstein with a proclamation declaring Feb. 14, 2014, Division of Corrections Day at the Legislature.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Division of Corrections was honored in the Senate Friday with a resolution declaring February 14, 2014, Corrections day at the legislature.

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein was joined by his Cabinet Secretary Joe Thornton and other members of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to receive the honor.

“On this day, it is important for this Legislature to remember that the starting annual salary for an entry level correctional professional in West Virginian is $22,584,” said Sen. Bill Laird.

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Teacher Pay
3:33 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Senate Alters Governor's Pay Increase for Teachers

The West Virginia Senate Education Committee is proposing a sweeping $1,000 pay raise for teachers.
 
The bill originally proposed a 2 percent raise.
Committee Chair Bob Plymale says they hope the raise will begin to attract highly qualified teachers.
 
He says many teachers across the state are nearing retirement and the committee wants to compete for new teachers nationally.
 
While the committee doesn't feel an across-the-board raise of $1,000 is competitive enough, Plymale says it's a start.

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West Virginia Morning
8:16 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Legislature Debates Pseudoephedrine and E-Cigarettes, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, & More

On this West Virginia Morning, legislators debate details of pseudoephedrine, electric cigarettes, and child welfare. Plus, some radio sleigh riding, and this week's Mountain Stage Song of the Week: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn with "City of Refuge."

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News
5:40 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Bill Passes to Prohibit Sale of Electronic Tobacco Products to Minors

Lead sponsor of H.B. 4237 Delegate Tiffany Lawrence speaks to her colleagues during the House floor session.
Credit 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.

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