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January 7, 2020 Edition

In Review

Under the Dome delivers a review of the issues being considered by state government and the 84th West Virginia Legislature of West Virginia. It provides information on matters that affect WVU and higher education.

WVU Priorities

The University has a number of issues it is following for the 2020 Regular Session of the Legislature. Three major areas of focus are the soft drinks tax, the budget and campus carry.

The soft drinks tax has supported the building, operation and maintenance of the medical, dental and nursing schools for decades. This valuable revenue – approximately $14 million a year – provides for many of the important programs Health Sciences offers to our state as well as the education and training of the next physicians, nurses and dentists who will serve our communities. A repeal of this valuable resource would be devastating. We will continue to advocate for its importance to the University and our mission as a land-grant institution.

It is not certain that campus carry will be considered during the upcoming session. We will continue to argue for local decision-making authority to remain with our Board of Governors.

The Budget

Over the past few months, revenue collections have missed estimates, and the Justice Administration was previously considering the potential for a 4.5% budget cut for State agencies and departments. In December 2019, however, revenue collections were $6.9 million above estimates and about 1.2% above prior year receipts. No cut is anticipated at this time.

There still remains a $33 million shortfall that will need to be made up if revenue collections do not meet expectations in the coming months for FY21.

Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy announced that Governor Justice will present a balanced but “flat” budget to the Legislature during his upcoming State of the State address. Hardy also stated that there are no plans at this time for the governor to propose a third pay raise for teachers and State employees.

Governor Justice will deliver his State of the State address on Wednesday, January 8.  We will provide an update of the priorities he announces then and any issues that surface from legislative priorities that are announced in the coming days.

New Members and Appointments

Governor Justice has made appointments to the Legislature over the past few months.

House of Delegates
• Trenton Barnhart (R-Pleasants) was appointed to replace Jason Harshbarger, who resigned due to new
    employment.
• T. Kevan Bartlett (R-Kanawha) was appointed to replace Sharon Lewis Malcolm, who passed away.

State Senate
• John R. Pitsenbarger (R-Nicholas) was appointed to replace Greg Boso, who resigned due to new
    employment.

Legislative Calendar and Important Dates

Interim Meetings                                                              January 6-7, 2020
First Day of Regular Session                                           January 8, 2020
Governor’s State of the State Address                            January 8, 2020
WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Capitol                  January 21, 2020
Monongalia/Preston County Day at the Capitol              January 29, 2020
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day at the Capitol       February 5, 2020
Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol                   February 7, 2020
Higher Education Day at the Capitol                               February 26, 2020
Last Day of Regular Session                                           March 7, 2020

WVU at the State Capitol

Travis Mollohan and Rocco Fucillo, both from WVU’s State Government Relations team, represent WVU at the State Capitol during the legislative session. They can answer questions about any issues addressed by the legislature. You can contact them at: Travis Mollohan ( tmolloh1@mail.wvu.edu) or Rocco Fucillo ( rsfucillo@mail.wvu.edu).

More Information

To learn more about the legislature, including district maps, bill tracking, committee assignments and a summary of legislative activities, please visit wvlegislature.gov .
To learn more about WVU’s legislative and government relation initiatives, please visit governmentrelations.wvu.edu .