WV Senate

Gov. Justice Taps Clements for State Senate Seat

Jan 28, 2017
Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has picked Republican Charles Clements to fill a state Senate opening left by Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt's election.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A conference committee of seven members of the House of Delegates and seven members of the Senate began work Monday on finding compromise in their budget bills. Each chamber approved their own version of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget last week. 

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate approved a resolution Thursday calling for a convention of states to add a balanced budget amendment to the U. S. Constitution. 

Senate Concurrent Resolution 13 was debated for days in the Senate's Judiciary Committee, and passed by the full chamber after a voice vote following hours of impassioned debate.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

Senate bills that appear to have died in the House are being revived, so to speak, by Senators. Members of the Judiciary Committee made major changes to a fireworks bill Monday.

House Bill 2646 as approved by the House would allow consumer exploding or display fireworks currently banned in West Virginia to be sold at certain retail locations.

The original bill created retailer fees on top of the sales tax and dedicated 20 percent of the collections to be split between veterans programs, the state Fire Marshal’s Office and Volunteer Fire Departments.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

After approving a bill to give nationally certified teachers in low performing schools a pay raise Wednesday, Democratic Senators attempted to get an across the board raise for all teachers in the state by amending a governor's bill. 

House Bill 2478 would reduce state funds dedicated to replacing county school buses one time, in the upcoming fiscal year. The bill was presented on behalf of Gov. Tomblin as a way to balance the 2016 budget.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

It’s too late in the session for Senators to approve a bill that would increase dollars committed to the state Road Fund, but members on both sides of the aisle say they are prepared to commit to a study of the issue. 

Sen. Bob Plymale of Wayne County introduced Senate Bill 478 nearly a month ago, which would do just that. The bill proposes increasing revenues for road construction by upping the gasoline and consumer sales taxes and raising Division of Motor Vehicle fees that haven’t been touched since the 1970s.

Mike Hall
Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

With a projected $80 million budget gap by the end of this fiscal year, lawmakers are considering bills to ensure a balanced budget is maintained.

Members of the Senate approved four of Governor Tomblin's supplemental appropriation bills for fiscal year 2015, the current budget year, intended to help close the gap.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate Finance Committee took up a bill Thursday they see every year, a bill to settle some of the state’s small claims law suit debts. This year lawmakers found out they owe substantially less than previous years, though, because of a reform bill passed two years ago.

House Bill 2876 is short titled the Court of Claims bill. The court hears citizen claims of damages against the state and awards compensations in verdicts to pay for anything from pothole damages to wrongful death suits.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

During an evening session on the final day to approve bills in their originating chamber, members of the state Senate passed a bill that would make major changes to election contribution laws in West Virginia.

The body began debating the bill more than a week ago that when introduced would have removed all contribution caps for candidate donations and allowed corporations to begin giving to West Virginia races.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators continue to move on a bill that would repeal Common Core standards in the state Tuesday by proposing amendments during an Education subcommittee meeting.

House Bill 2934 was approved over the weekend by the House of Delegates and called for a total repeal of the math and English standards by July 1, 2015.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

Members of the West Virginia Senate began discussing a bill Monday that, if approved, would repeal Common Core standards in West Virginia. The legislation passed the state House of Delegates Saturday.

House Bill 2934 calls on the West Virginia Department of Education to repeal the Common Core standards adopted in 2010 for math and language arts. It then requires the board, along with the state Department of Education, to draft new standards.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators approved 30-1 a bill that will scale back the state’s above ground storage tank law approved in 2014. The law came as a reaction to the Freedom Industries’ chemical spill into the Kanawha River that left 300,000 West Virginians without usable water for as many as ten days.

Senate Bill 423 separates tanks into two levels, with level one tanks receiving the highest level of scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Senators have approved a push to make West Virginia the sixth state not to require concealed handgun permits.

The Senate's 32-2 vote Monday would drop concealed carry permit requirements. Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming similarly don't require them.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate amended Senate Bill 335 Thursday after it was returned by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin vetoed the bill citing technical deficiencies.

The Opioid Antagonist bill allows emergency responders, medical professionals and friends and family to administer drugs that reverse the effects of an overdose, possibly saving a person's life. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State lawmakers have taken their first action to scale back a wide-ranging law safeguarding against chemical spills from aboveground tanks.

A January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days spurred the law.

A Senate committee passed an amended bill Tuesday to deregulate about 36,000 aboveground storage tanks from the new law.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

An argument over parliamentary procedure Tuesday has Senate Democrats up in arms, accusing the Republican majority of disregarding the chamber’s standard rules of order.

The disagreement started Monday when Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler successfully killed Senate Bill 14, a bill to create charter schools in West Virginia, during a Finance Committee meeting. Kessler, who said he simply counted during the meeting that he had a Democratic majority in attendance, made a motion to postpone the bill indefinitely.

Kessler maintained such a motion, according to the Jeffersonian Rules of Order, prevents lawmakers from taking up the bill for the remainder of the session.

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators approved a bill Monday that, if fully approved by the legislature, will add four judges to the state’s circuit court system. 

Senate Bill 415 comes as a result of a study by the National Center for State Courts.

The study shows West Virginia’s circuit court system is overloaded and recommends lawmakers add more circuit judges, but Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump said the number recommended was too financially cumbersome for the state.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The study came as a companion to a bill approved during the 2013 legislative session. That bill gave pay raises to some magistrates in smaller counties.

Conducted by the National Center on State Courts, the results of the study were presented during January interim meetings, just a day before the legislative session began.

The NCSC presented three options to reduce the overall number of magistrates, keeping the current county based system, aligning it with the circuit courts, or aligning with the regional jail system.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia senators have narrowly approved a bill letting people drink raw milk through animal herd sharing agreements.

On Friday, the Senate voted 18-16 to approve the measure. Sen. Tom Takubo, a doctor, was the lone dissenting Republican vote. Sen. Bob Williams was the only Democrat voting in favor.

The bill wouldn't allow retail sales of raw milk.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

Senators approved House Bill 2010 Friday, creating the nonpartisan election of judges at all levels in West Virginia. The new election process would begin in 2016 and include all levels from Supreme Court Justices down to county magistrates. 

Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump said on the floor of the Senate before the vote West Virginia is one of only six states in the country that still holds partisan judicial elections and the time has come for the state to make the chance.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators reconsidered a bill Thursday that previously would have capped the punitive damages awarded in a civil lawsuit and also give the state a portion of the award. Wednesday, two Republican Senators voted against the measure.

The bill as originally considered would have capped the punitive damages a jury could award at three times compensatory damages won in a case or $500,000, whichever is greater.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee took up a bill Wednesday that its sponsor says will create a government owned broadband interstate in West Virginia.

Senate Bill 459 calls on the state to invest $78 million in expanding broadband access to West Virginians. The money would pay for the installation of 2,600 miles of broadband fiber across West Virginia with an emphasis on expanding access in rural areas.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee took up a bill that would give Division of Natural Resources law enforcement officers a raise in the upcoming fiscal year and every year following. 

The bill raises the base salary for new officers from $31,222 in their first year to $33,994. All other officers will receive a bump in the range of two to six thousand dollars a year.

The introduced version of the bill also grants the officers a $400 a year raise for every year they remain on the force.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State Senators have approved a bill to scale back the state’s prevailing wage law and change the way it’s calculated.

A bill that would have repealed the state’s prevailing wage completely was altered and then approved by senators on a final vote of 23 to 11 Thursday with only Democrats voting against it.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A Senate committee approved an agreement Thursday that would modify the way immunization exemptions are granted in West Virginia, taking the power from the county level and centralizing it at the state Bureau for Public Health.

Members of the Senate Health Committee initially received a bill that would have allowed parents to seek religious exemptions from some immunization requirements. A committee substitute offered last week removed that exemption, but members still had concerns and asked for more time to work on a compromised version.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

State Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael says there's a tentative deal to scale back the state's prevailing wage.

The Jackson County Republican said Wednesday the agreement would avoid repealing the wage for public construction projects. Republicans have proposed the repeal.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Republican-led state Senate has cleared a proposal lauded by the struggling coal industry and criticized as dangerous for worker safety by the miners' union.

Senators voted 26-8 Tuesday for the bill changing safety and environmental standards related to coal mining.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

Members of the West Virginia Senate approved four pieces of legislation Friday without a nay vote. They include:

SB 250- Relating to Conservation Agency financial assistance applications from district supervisors

The bill allows local conservation district supervisors to apply for West Virginia Conservation Agency financial assistance programs, but in order to avoid conflicts of interest and ethical questions, provides local agents' grants must be considered by the West Virginia Conservation Agency at the state level instead of the local districts. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a close party-line vote, Republican state senators stymied a Democratic effort to stop a bill that would repeal the state's prevailing wage. 

Democrats failed in a 16-18 Senate vote Thursday to reject the repeal bill, which passed a committee Tuesday.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“Slow this down. Let’s find some compromise.”

That was the message the director of the Affiliated Construction Trades of West Virginia, Steve White, delivered during a gathering of union officials and members at the state Culture Center Wednesday.

White, his union and other members of the AFL-CIO gathered to speak out against a bill that’s fast tracked through the West Virginia Senate. Senate Bill 261 would repeal the state’s prevailing wage, the hourly, overtime and benefit rates contractors agree to pay their employees when bidding on publicly funded projects.

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