Briana Heaney Published

Senate Acts In Frustration Over House Inaction On Bills

Two men talk on a podium. One is laughing and one is looking away.
After a quick private conversation between Sen. President Craig Blair and Majority Leader Sen. Tom Takubo at the dais, Takubo stepped down a requested that the bill be moved to Rules Commitee.
Will Price/WV Legislature Photography

With four days left in this legislative session, tension between the two chambers is rising. Each chamber is waiting for their prospective bills to be passed by the other chamber before the fast-approaching Saturday deadline. 

The Senate passed 25 bills Tuesday, about half of which were House bills and the others Senate appropriations bills. 

The Senate cruised through the other chamber’s bills like House Bill 4998. It would increase the penalties for the third offense of shoplifting. House Bill 4768 expands a program for out-of-state medical students who receive in-state tuition if they agree to stay in the state and work for the same number of years they received in-state tuition.

However, the process hit a snag when an otherwise non-controversial bill was introduced. House Bill 5002 would require at least one baby changing station to be placed in all men’s bathrooms in rest areas in the state. 

Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, opposed the bill. He said this is essentially in retaliation for the House’s failure to advance bills sent over to them from the Senate and urged a no vote. 

“None of those bills, or very few, of those bills,” Woelfel said. “based on my review of today’s agenda in the House had been looked at or even examined, much less never, never, showing up on an agenda.”

He said that one of the committees he is part of, the Judiciary Committee, sent 27 bills to the House that have yet to reach the floor. 

“What they send us. A bill about changing a poopy diaper at a rest area is a metaphor,” Woelfel said. “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but it’s a pretty good metaphor for how they do business down the hall.” 

After a brief discussion between Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley and Majority Leader Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, the bill was parked in Senate Rules, a small but powerful committee responsible for setting the agenda for what bills hit the floor and have a chance to advance.