Under the Dome is an update on actions and activities of the West Virginia Legislature, provided during the regular legislative session, interim sessions and special sessions for West Virginia University faculty and staff by WVU’s Office of State and Local Relations. This issue provides a review of the third full week of the regular legislative session.
Institutional Flexibility (HB 2542 and SB 274)
HB 2542 passed the House Education Committee on Wednesday with minor changes. The bill will be read a third time and up for a vote on Tuesday, February 28. A companion bill, SB 274, was introduced two weeks ago in the State Senate. Details follow on final pages.
Following the governor’s State of the State address, detailing his plan to increase tax revenue and eventually eliminate the State’s income tax, the State Senate introduced a bill ( SB 335) to overhaul and reform the State’s tax system.
The measure would repeal the State’s personal income tax, the use tax and the consumer sales and service tax. It would enact a broader general consumption tax of 8%, a temporary single-rate income tax, and phase out and repeal the corporate net income tax. The general consumption tax would apply to certain professionals (like law firms, accounting firms, engineers, architects and advertisers) who are exempted under current law.
Dr. John Deskins, associate dean of the WVU College of Business and Economics and director of the Bureau for Business and Economic Research, spoke on February 17 to the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform. While not endorsing or opposing the plan, he provided three points that the Legislature should consider in this debate.
- A broader general consumption tax could encourage more savings – Deskins stated that a consumption-style tax does not tax savings. It taxes only the amount you spend on goods or services. Under an income tax system, you pay taxes on your entire income whether it is spent or saved.
- A broader tax base is desirable – Deskins stated that broadening the sales tax base is more efficient. If you tax everything at a correspondingly lower rate, then you have a better system than a system with many exemptions, deductions and credits.
- Be cautious with revenue estimates – Deskins cautioned, if the Legislature enacts this change, they would need to be careful with future revenue estimates. His research suggests that evasion could be higher on services as compared to goods. He stated that revenue projections should be conservative going forward, due to this potential problem.
Introduction of Legislation
So far, 885 bills have been introduced in the House of Delegates and the State Senate. Bills relating to higher education and higher-profile bills include:
- SJR 6 – Governor’s Constitutional Amendment to Finance $1.6 billion in Road Bonds, called the “Roads to Prosperity Act”
- SB 7 and HB 2124 – Requiring House of Delegates Members Be Elected by Single Member Districts
- SB 18 – Requiring ACT and ACT Aspire Be Used as Comprehensive Statewide Student Assessment
- SB 32 – Increasing Higher Education Student Success
- SB 75 – Creating the Small Business Regulatory Review Board
- SB 76 and HB 2107 – Creating the WV Second Chance for Employment Act
- SB 181 – Abolishing Regional Education Service Agencies
- SB 184 – Transitioning the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine to Nonprofit Corporation
- SB 188 – Correcting Definition of Telehealth in Medication-Assisted Treatment Programs
- SB 199 and HB 2018 – Budget Bill
- SB 244 – Gas Co-Tenancy and Lease Integration
- SB 246 and HB 2506 – Related to Water Quality Standards
- SB 266/367 and HB 2004/2492/2622 – Relating to State Vehicle Fleet Management Program
- SB 274 and 2542 – Relating to Higher Education Personnel (details on final pages)
- SB 277 – Creation of an Intermediate Appellate Court
- SB 335 – Tax Reform
- SB 359 – Allowing Exemptions from Mandated Immunizations
- SB 385 – Related to Tax on Bottled Soft Drinks
- SB 408 – Eliminates Civil Service System for Public Employees Excluding Higher Education Personnel
- SB 409 – Modifying Exemptions for Consumer Sales and Service Tax
- SB 415 – State Severance Tax Tiers
- SB 420 – Governor’s Education Reform Bill
- HB 2071 – Allowing the Medical Use of Cannabis-Based Pharmaceutical Products
- HB 2079 – Abolishing the Higher Education Policy Commission
- HB 2144 – Relating to Relocation or Closure of State Higher Education Institution
- HB 2159 – Healthy and Safe Workplace Act
- HB 2194 – Reducing Personnel Employed by the WV Department of Education
- HB 2212 – West Virginia Firearms Freedom Act
- HB 2335 – Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education
- HB 2559 – Permitting Concealed Carry on Higher Education Campuses
- HB 2572 – Public Charter Schools
- HB 2623 and HB 2670 – Prohibiting Discrimination Based upon Age or Sexual Orientation
- HB 2686 – Independent Evaluation of State’s Revenue Estimates by WVU and Marshall Business Colleges
To view all bills introduced, visit the "Bill Status" page of the West Virginia Legislature’s website.
- 30th Day of Legislative Session (halfway point) – Thursday, March 9, 2017
- Higher Education Day at the Capitol – Wednesday, March 15, 2017
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day at the Capitol – Thursday, March 16, 2017
- Last Day to Introduce Bills in the State Senate – Monday, March 20, 2017
- Last Day to Introduce Bills in the House of Delegates – Tuesday, March 21, 2017
- Monongalia County and Preston County Day at the Capitol – Tuesday, March 21, 2017
- Bills Due out of Chamber Committee of Origin – Sunday, March 26, 2017
- WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Capitol – Tuesday, March 28, 2017
- Last Day to Consider Bills on Third Reading (Final Passage) – Wednesday, March 29, 2017
- Nurses Unity Day – Wednesday, April 8, 2017
- Last Day of Regular Legislative Session – Saturday, April 8, 2017
WVU at the State Capitol
Travis Mollohan and Rocco Fucillo, both from WVU’s State and Local Relations, represent WVU at the State Capitol during the legislative session. They can answer questions about any issues addressed by the Legislature.
To learn more about the Legislature, including district maps, bill tracking, committee assignments and a summary of legislative activities, please visit the West Virginia Legislature website.
To learn more about WVU’s legislative initiatives, please visit WVU's Government Relations site.
Summary of Proposed Changes to Human Resource Legislation (HB 2542 and SB 274)
The changes are designed to empower institutions with more authority relating to personnel decisions on their campuses and to facilitate the implementation of contemporary programs and practices to reward and incentivize performance and enhance employee engagement.
Non-Classified and Classified Employees
Under current law, an institution may only have 25% of its employees designated as non-classified. The classification of employees should not be dictated by a negotiated ratio in State Code but rather based on the needs of the institutions and the nature of the work performed. The proposed change would eliminate any statutory ratio and would instead indicate that, for new employees, the standard would be based primarily on the definitions of exempt and non-exempt employees of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
For employees hired on or before July 1, 2017, provides that classified employees are full-time nonfaculty employees of an institution, unless the employee:
- Is in a policy-making position
- Is critical to the institution
- Is a direct report to the President
- Is involved in an IT job
For employees hired after July 1, 2017:
- Classified employees are those who are non-exempt for purposes of the Fair Labor Standard Act (hourly);
- Non-classified employees are those who are exempt for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (salaried).
Bumping and Recall Rights
In this era of budget reductions, layoffs are becoming a reality. The commonly referred to bumping rights in State Code are counterproductive and not an efficient way to address workforce issues.
Institutions are to develop policies for reductions in workforce and reductions may be based on documented job performance, skill set, longevity, or other factors appropriate.
- If an institution lays off a more senior employee, the institution may provide a severance package for that employee
- Provisions relating to “bumping” and recall rights based on seniority are eliminated
Once again, in this era of budget reductions, institutions need more flexibility and to avoid being put into a onesize fits all approach. Some institutions benefit from central practices and assistance from the HEPC. Other schools, however, with full HR staffs, have and want the ability to develop a system more closely aligned with the needs of the particular institution.
WVU and Marshall are authorized to develop their own classification and compensation system; any other institution may only do so with the approval of the HEPC.
An institution may develop rules for faculty hiring practices that are different from HEPC rules; HEPC rules are applicable to the extent an institution does not develop a rule.
Mandatory statutory provisions dictating hiring of individuals at the HEPC is eliminated; code provisions are amended to clarify HEPC duties and institutional duties relating to human resources, including other changes described herein (HEPC retains authority to hire as it desires within its budget – the statutory mandates are removed).
Obsolete code provisions are eliminated.
For questions or more information, contact Travis Mollohan, director, State and Local Relations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 304-400-4963