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January 14, 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. This edition provides an update on the governor’s fourth State of the State, campus carry and the former WVU Tech campus in Montgomery.

Soft Drinks Tax

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 state, the University and our mission as a land-grant institution.

State of the State

In his fourth State of the State address, Governor Justice submitted what he deemed a conservative budget.

The budget does not cut institutions of higher education. It “locks away” $150 million of an estimated $310 million in Medicaid surplus and uses some of the remaining Medicaid surplus to pay for new initiatives or invest in existing programs, such as meals for seniors, weekend backpacks for hungry students, tourism efforts, a new State Narcotics Investigation Unit, eliminating the intellectual/developmental disability (IDD) wait list and more money for the Child Protective Services at DHHR.

State officials estimate that revenue estimates will be approximately $108 million lower than last year, forcing them to use budget reserves in order to close the gap and provide additional funding for the governor’s new initiatives.

Governor Justice also signaled his support for eliminating the business and inventory tax on machinery and equipment, as well as for creating an intermediate court of appeals.

Campus Carry

HB 2032, relating to campus carry, was introduced on January 8. However, this is a carry-over bill from the previous session of the Legislature. These type of bills are not necessarily acted upon and are often submitted only as a courtesy to legislators and constituents.

It is not certain at this point that campus carry will be considered during this session. We will continue to monitor for additional legislation and advocate for local decision-making authority to remain with our Board of Governors.

Challenge Academy

Since moving our WVU Tech campus to Beckley in 2015, the University has been working diligently with local partners to repurpose the existing buildings in Montgomery. During his State of the State address on Wednesday night, Governor Justice announced that the West Virginia National Guard would open a second Mountaineer Challenge Academy, the successful national program serving at-risk youth ages 16-18.

According to the Governor’s Office and the National Guard, the expansion of the Challenge Academy in West Virginia will employ an additional 85 personnel, with hiring expected to begin in early 2020. The National Guard is currently assessing the facilities for any renovations required prior to occupancy for housing, classrooms, safety and security and technology.

The University is working with the National Guard and local officials from Montgomery, Smithers, Kanawha County and Fayette County to transfer the dormitory Maclin Hall and the Tech Student Union Center and any additional facilities or properties necessary for their efforts. The National Guard expects to begin their first cohort at the second academy in October 2020.

Bill Introductions

A number of bills have been introduced in the first few days of the 2020 session, many of them carry-over bills from the 2019 session. Bills being followed by our government relations team and of most interest to the University include:

HB 2008 – Providing for a run-off election of nonpartisan Supreme Court candidates when no candidate receives 40% of the vote
HB 2032 – Permitting the carrying of concealed weapons on the campus of a state higher education institution
HB 4001 – Creating West Virginia Impact Fund
HB 4005 – West Virginia Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets Act
HB 4014 – Providing new graduates of an in-state or out-of-state higher education institution, or trade school, a $1,000 tax credit
HB 4022 – Clarifying the qualifications of the chancellor of HEPC
HB 4025 – Creating a state central legal advertising website
HB 4027 – Providing that municipal user fees may not be imposed on State employees
HB 4028 – Relating to licensure of hospitals
HB 4042 – Requiring agencies exempt from some or all of State purchasing requirements to adopt procedural rules
HB 4043 – Preventing State, county and municipal agencies from covering any portions of PEIA premiums for spouse
HB 4063 – Relating to compulsory immunizations
HB 4065 – Relating to donations to WV 4-H program or FFA when renewing driver’s licenses
HB 4077 – Increasing the amount of the bond required to be posted by proprietary schools
HB 4085 – Relating to PROMISE Scholarship Program requirements
HB 4098 – Second Amendment sanctuary law

SB 24 – Relating to residency requirements for voter registration
SB 36 – Establishing the Mountaineer Trail Network Recreation Authority
SB 95 – Authorizing PEIA to establish base benefits insurance plans
SB 127 – Authorizing higher education governing boards to eliminate faculty tenure
SB 153 – Allowing certain motorcycle operators to ride without helmet
SB 154 – Allowing certain out-of-state residents to ride motorcycle without helmet
SB 160 – Creating voluntary WVU Rifle Team check-off program on hunting and fishing licenses
SB 174 – Relating to federal funding for WVU and WVSU
SB 187 – Relating generally to in-state tuition rates for certain persons
SB 220 – Relating to exemptions from mandated immunizations
SB 221 – Relating to disposition of vacated school buildings or other State-owned buildings

Legislative Calendar and Important Dates

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
Last Day to Introduce Bills in the House                                           February 11, 2020
Last Day to Introduce Bills in the Senate                                          February 17, 2020
Bills Due Out of Committee in House of Origin                                 February 23, 2020
Last Day to Consider Bill on Third Reading                                       February 26, 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 ( or Rocco Fucillo (
More Information
To learn more about the legislature, including district maps, bill tracking, committee assignments and a summary of legislative activities, please visit
To learn more about WVU’s legislative and government relation initiatives, please visit .