Five Bills to Watch on the Final Day of the W.Va. Legislature

West Virginia State Capitol

This 82nd Legislature passed a slew of bills, but on the last day of the Legislative session, several big bills were still in limbo. Here’s what happened to five of them:

BONUS: Forced pooling (HB 2688).

This bill would have required certain mineral rights owners to sell to oil and gas drillers if 80 percent of surrounding owners sold. After passionate debate over property rights, the bill failed on a bi-partisan vote, 49-49, in the shocker of the last day of the session.

1. The “Fireworks” bill (HB 2646).

This bill started as a way to allow the sale of certain types of fireworks in West Virginia, but quickly grew into this year’s “Christmas tree” bill – with lots of goodies hung on it for all.

The Senate added a $1 tax on cigarettes. There’s also a provision that could allow smoking to continue at the state’s casinos and veteran’s organizations. The Senate and House have to work out several differences and figure out how to spend the new revenues, if it passes. UPDATE 11:45 p.m. Saturday: This is dead.

2. Common Core standards (HB 2943)

The House wants a repeal of Common Core standards, while the Senate is willing to give the state Department of Education more time to study possible changes. The Common Core bill is in the Senate. UPDATE 11:45 p.m. Saturday: This is dead. Expect it to be debated and studied this year.

3. Charter school legalization (SB 14)

The Legislature is considering a bill to allow charter schools in West Virginia. The Senate has passed the bill, and it is now in the House. Some House members object to a provision designed to prevent discrimination against LGBT children. UPDATE 11:45 p.m. Saturday: This is dead. We heard at one point this could become a study resolution.

4. Alternative certification for teachers (HB 2005).

This would allow Teach for America and other similar programs to operate in the state. Teacher’s unions oppose the bill, saying it would allow unqualified people to become teachers. The Senate added a provision that the new teachers could only serve in “areas of critical need,” such as special education, certain science and math classes, etc. UPDATE 10:45 p.m. Saturday: The House passed the bill 63-37. The bill now goes to the Governor.

5. Campaign Finance changes (SB 541).

This bill would increase the donation level to federal levels, from $1,000 to $2,700. The Senate added a requirement for more disclosure of so-called “dark money” from third-party groups which some House members object to on free speech grounds. House Speaker Tim Armstead says the bill is dead, so it probably is. But you never know. UPDATE 11:45 p.m. Saturday: It died.