WV Senate

Legislature
6:30 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

W.Va. Senate Approves Bill to Not Require Handgun Permits

Senate President Bill Cole.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
5:07 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Senate Amends Opioid Antagonist Bill after Veto

Credit 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. 

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Water Regualtions
8:56 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Senate Starts Work to Scale Back Law after Chemical Spill

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during a meeting.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
8:26 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Why Senate Dems Say Floor Fight Is Bigger Than Charter Schools

Senators John Unger and Jeff Kessler discuss parliamentary rules while members of the media interview Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
3:02 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Senate Bill Would Add Four Circuit Judges to W.Va. System

Sen. Charles Trump discusses a bill with members of the Senate Clerk's staff.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
9:56 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Senators Work to Realigin Magistrate Court System

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee met Sunday evening to discuss a bill realigning the magistrate court system.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
6:34 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

W.Va. Senate Passes Bill Allowing Consumption of Raw Milk

Credit 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.

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Legislature
6:24 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Senate Approves Bill Creating Nonpartisan Judicial Electione

Credit 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.

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Legislature
4:50 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Senators Approve Bill to Cap Punitive Damages After Failed Vote

Senators approved SB 421 after reconsidering their Wednesday vote and amending the bill.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
6:59 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Senate Committee Advances Bill to Expand Broadband Access

Sen. Chris Walters.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
6:46 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Senators Consider Pay Raise for DNR Officers

Senators during a floor session Monday.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
7:11 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Bill to Scale Back Prevailing Wage Passes Senate

Sen. Craig Blair stood to amend SB 361 during a morning floor session while dozens of union workers looked on from the gallery.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
3:51 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Senate Health Panel Moves Vaccine Bill

Sen. Ryan Ferns chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
7:07 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

W.Va. Senate GOP Says Deal Struck on Prevailing Wage Changes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
7:06 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

W.Va. Senate Clears Bill Touted by State's Coal Industry

Democratic Senators stood to support an amendment to SB 357 proposed by Sen. Bob Beach. The amendment failed.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
5:16 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Senate Approves Four Bills

Credit 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. 

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Legislature
7:27 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

W.Va. GOP Squashes Democrats Attempt to Stop Prevailing Wage repeal

Members of the Senate leadership, Minority Leader Jeff Kessler and Senate staffers gathered at the podium to discuss Kessler's amendment to reject a committee report.
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.

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Legislature
7:10 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Unions Gather at Capitol to Fight Prevailing Wage

Director of the Affiliated Construction Trades of West Virginia Steve White spoke to dozens gathered at the state Culture Center to speak against a bill that would repeal the state's prevailing wage.
Credit 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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Legislature
6:57 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Senate Bill Would Streamline Vaccine Exemption Process

Sen. Ryan Ferns chairs the Senate Health Committee.
Credit West Virginia Legislative Photography

A Senate committee removed religious exemptions from a bill allowing local physicians to exempt children from some vaccines with the approval of the state chief health officer Tuesday. The original bill would have allowed for the religious exemptions in addition to medical exceptions already contained in state law.

Three Senators removed their names from the bills as sponsors before the Senate Health Committee took up the bill Tuesday. Sen. Mike Hall said his sponsorship was a clerical error to begin with, but Senators Mark Maynard and Chris Walters removed their backing because of concerns over the religious exemption in the original bill.

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Legislature
6:32 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

W.Va. Senate Repeals Straight Ticket Voting

The final vote for Senate Bill 249.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators approved a bill Tuesday that repeals straight party voting, a ballot provision that allows a voter to vote for all candidates from one party instead of considering individual races. 

Both Democratic and Republican Senators stood to speak on behalf of Senate Bill 249, some saying the elimination of straight ticket voting requires voters to consider each race rather than voting on a partisan basis. 

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