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January 22, 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 soft drinks tax, campus carry, Needle Exchange Program and other high-profile bills introduced.

Soft Drinks Tax

SB 538, repealing the excise tax on soft drinks, was introduced in the Senate on Monday. It is sponsored by Senator Maynard and was referred first to the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, then Senate Finance.


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 generation of 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.

Campus Carry

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

It is unlikely 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.

Needle Exchange Program

SB 286, introduced on January 10 and sponsored by Senator Eric Tarr, prohibits the Bureau of Public Health to approve or establish any syringe exchange program in any location in West Virginia. The bill requires the Bureau to close any existing program if this bill is passed.

Support for 4-H and Rifle Team

Delegates Cooper, Pack and R. Thompson have introduced HB 4065, which permits $5, $10 or other amount donations to veterans’ programs, the Farm Bureau Foundation, Future Farmers of America Foundation or WVU 4-H. The bill has been sent to the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee. If passed, it will be considered next by House Finance.

Senators Sypolt, Beach, Clements, Hamilton and Stollings have introduced SB 160, which creates a voluntary check-off program to donate to the WVU Rifle Team when renewing hunting and fishing licenses. The bill was considered and passed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Monday. It will next go to Senate Finance.

WVU Extension Day

The halls of West Virginia’s Capitol were filled with gold and blue (and 4-H green!) at WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Legislature on January 21. Hundreds of 4-H youth from across the state came to learn more about WVU programs and camps through engaging, hands-on exhibits. Dr. Gee, Clay Marsh, Sue Day-Perroots and Carolyn Long accepted proclamations in both the House and Senate chambers. This annual day at the legislature provides youth the opportunity to see our government at work and learn more about WVU.

Bill Introductions

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

House
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 4004 – Creating the West Virginia Sentencing Commission to review all sentencing guidelines and make recommended reforms
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
HB 4108 – Relating to certificates of need for health services
HB 4357 – Relating to maintaining governmental websites
HB 4365 – Granting of college credit hours for learning English as a second language
HB 4389 – Relating to transfer of program credits at two-year colleges or CTCs
HB 4390 – Relating to records management of public records
HB 4412 – Education benefits to members of WV National Guard, WV Air Guard, Army Reserve and active duty armed forces personnel
HJR 102 – Constitutional amendment to require all State Board of Education rules be approved by the Legislature

Senate
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
SB 286 – Prohibiting syringe exchange programs
SB 303 – Enacting Students’ Right to Know Act
SB 514 – Creating WV FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Act
SB 521 – Creating Tax and Economic Incentives Review Commission
SB 538 – Repealing excise tax on soft drinks

Legislative Calendar and Important Dates

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 ( 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 .