Abortion, Drilling Waste, Attorney General: Where Does the Senate Stand?


Bills that were hotly debated in the House are expected to receive just as much attention in the Senate as members of the Legislature near their final week of the session.

One of those includes a bill allowing commercial solid waste authorities to dispose of solid waste and drill cuttings from the Marcellus shale industry.

Senator Herb Snyder said he believes disposing of drill cuttings in landfills is a much safer practice than allowing companies to bury the waste on site, but he disagreed with the time limit, allowing sites to collect an unlimited amount of tonnage of waste, but only for two years.

“Because these landfills are making a significant multi-million dollar investments to put these additional mono-fill cells in for the drilling waste only as will be required. The problem is there going to put that kind of money into being part of the system for solid waste and dealing with the drilling waste, they don’t want to have it all end in two years and then we’re back here in the legislature trying to decided what to do in two years. We know if we did that we know we’re going to be setting up a problem that’s going to hit us in between the eyes in two years so why not settle it now.”  

House Bill 4490 is known as the Attorney General Ethics and Accountability Act. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the bill limits his powers to protect West Virginians’ as consumers and their Second Amendment rights.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall said he believes the bills stems from Morrisey’s policy of cutting down the use of outside council and major law firms in Charleston losing out on the state funds.

“I think part of this is just a partisan political battle that has worked its way into a policy question and I think what we have to do is decided if this policy is right or not,” Hall said. “At this point, I don’t think it is and I don’t think they should be doing that to the office.”

Another bill Hall said the Republican caucus is watching closely in the Senate is House Bill 4588, the pain capable unborn child protection bill.

As it came out of the House, the bill restricts abortions to before 20 weeks with some emergency medical exceptions for the mother, but Senate Health Committee Chair Ron Stollings said he expects to see changes to the bill.

Hall agreed with the bill:

“It goes back to the concept of personhood. All the way back to our founding document about the right of life and if you define an unborn child as life and that get disputed. If you listen to debates on the floors from time to time there’s resistance to calling an unborn child a child, but all the definitions of life are there. The classic definitions of life are there. You don’t need a religious book to prove that. So, we are defending basically a proposition that we have held sacred for over our entire history and this is just an expression of it.”  

Snyder said he has a history of voting pro-choice as a member of the Senate, but wanted to make sure the chamber looks at it carefully:

“Quite frankly, I think abortion is a horrendous practice in any situation and certainly unheard of after 20 weeks of gestation. My personal choice, even though I am pro-choice, my personal choice has been life. I have six children so I practice pro-life in my life, but when you get into medical emergencies or the baby in some way has died or is deformed beyond repair within the womb, it’s a very emotional debate, but we do need to look at the medical side of this too.”  

While Snyder and Hall may be on opposing sides of the abortion bill, both agreed on some Senate bills they think will see major changes in the House.

The Senators expect Delegates to rework the pseudoephedrine bill, a bill allowing some elected county officials pay raises and the legislation relating to municipal gun ordinances.