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 campus carry and a number of high-profile bills and resolutions introduced.
Halfway ThereLast week marked the halfway point for the 2020 Regular Session. With fewer than 30 days left, the House and Senate are considering a number of bills during their extended floor sessions, committees are meeting more regularly, and the fiscal year 2021 budget is taking shape and expected to pass before March 7, the final day of session.
SB 703Senate Bill 703, increasing earning limit for employees who accept separation incentives from a higher education institution, was introduced last week. It is sponsored by Senators Prezioso, Beach, Azinger, Clements, Rucker, Hamilton, Weld, Plymale, Cline, Jeffries, Hardesty and Romano. The bill raises the current statutory threshold from $5,000 to $25,000. Senate Education will consider the bill in the coming weeks.
Rural Medicine Task ForceLast Wednesday, Governor Justice announced the establishment of the Rural Medicine Task Force to address the healthcare dilemma in West Virginia. The governor believes that too many hospitals are closing, and he has requested that representatives of the major hospital systems and healthcare industry come together to address the problem. An executive order will be released this week outlining the details and duties of the group.
SB 730, the Campus Self-Defense Act, was introduced on Friday by Senator Maynard, who is the sole sponsor of the bill. The bill is referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where HB 2519 was defeated last year.
HB 2032 and HB 2519, both relating to campus carry, were introduced on January 8. However, these are carryover bills 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.Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill has been considered yet by the Legislature. All indications are that campus carry will not 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.
Tech CaucusFormer Cisco CEO John Chambers, West Virginia native and West Virginia University alum, addressed the House Tech Caucus last week. Speaking via video link, Chambers answered questions from lawmakers and the audience and shared some of the successes and challenges he’s faced in business and entrepreneurship.
HB 4001 creates the West Virginia Impact Fund and the Mountaineer Impact Office to allow the State to support and, in some cases, sponsor projects that are meant to jump-start innovative high-growth businesses and high-impact economic development projects. The bill is sponsored by Speaker Roger Hanshaw, Minority Leader Tim Miley and a bipartisan group of lawmakers.The bill was debated and passed by the House Finance Committee on January 30. However, the bill has been moved to the House’s inactive calendar as sponsors and members work out proposed amendments.
SJR 8 and 9
Senate Republicans have introduced two resolutions dealing with personal property tax on business machinery, equipment and inventory and granting them authority in the future to lower the ad valorem tax on motor vehicles and other tangible personal property. They believe these measures will increase manufacturing and investment in the state’s economy.
Senate Joint Resolution 8 (Manufacturing Growth Amendment) seeks to phase out the ad valorem tax over four years, starting on July 1, 2021. The legislation also proposes to restore revenue funding potentially lost to counties, municipalities and local schools. It has not yet been considered by the Senate Judiciary or Finance committees.Senate Joint Resolution 9 (Authorizing the Legislature to Eliminate or Lower Ad Valorem Tax on Motor Vehicles and Any Other Tangible Personal Property) would propose a State constitutional amendment, which would have to be approved by the voters, to grant authority to the Legislature to have the power to eliminate or change the personal property tax on motor vehicles and other tangible personal property. This resolution has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and must be considered by the Senate Finance Committee. It would have to be passed by two-thirds of the members of the Senate and House and approved by the citizens of the state.
Soft Drinks Tax
SB 538, repealing the excise tax on soft drinks, was introduced in the Senate on January 20. Senator Maynard is the lead sponsor, and the bill is referred first to the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, followed by 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 physicians, nurses and dentists who will serve our communities. A repeal of this valuable resource would be devastating. While there has been no action on the bill, we will continue to advocate for its importance to the University and our mission as a land-grant institution.
Needle Exchange ProgramSB 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. The bill requires the Bureau to close any existing program if this bill is passed. So far, SB 286 has not been acted upon by Senate Health and Human Resources.
Support for 4-H and Rifle Team
Delegates Cooper, Pack, and R. Thompson 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 January 20. It will next go to Senate Finance.
Bill IntroductionsA 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:
HouseHB 2008 – Providing for a run-off election of nonpartisan Supreme Court candidates when no candidate receives 40% of the vote
HB 2032/ HB 2519 – Permitting the carrying of concealed weapons on the campus of a State higher education institution
HB 4001 – Creating the Mountaineer 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 – Donations to WV 4-H program or FFA when renewing driver’s licenses
HB 4077 – Increasing amount of 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 4189 – The Parental Leave Act
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 West Virginia National Guard, West Virginia Air Guard, Army Reserve and active duty armed forces personnel
HB 4434 – West Virginia health care workforce sustainability study
HB 4445 – Economic Diversification Act of 2020
HB 4458 – Requiring State agencies to publish and maintain state grant opportunities and awards on their websites
HB 4463 – Relating to prequalification of vendors for State contracts
HB 4543 – Relating to insurance coverage of insulin for diabetics
HB 4562 – Renewable Energy Facilities program
HB 4621 – West Virginia FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Act
HB 4625 – Relating to the normalization of cannabis laws
HB 4701 – Establishing a comprehensive framework for the management of all real property assets of the State
HJR 102 – Constitutional amendment to require all State Board of Education rules be approved by the Legislature
SenateSJR 8 – The Manufacturing Growth Amendment
SJR 9 – Amendment authorizing Legislature to eliminate or lower ad valorem tax on motor vehicles and any other tangible personal property
SB 24 – Relating to residency requirements for voter registration
SB 36 – Establishing the Mountaineer Trail Network Recreation Authority
SB 76 – Limiting employer liability in cases where certain convictions are expunged
SB 95 – Authorizing PEIA to establish base benefits insurance plans
SB 96 – Prohibiting municipalities from limiting persons’ rights to possess certain weapons
SB 127 – Authorizing higher education governing boards to eliminate faculty tenure
SB 138 – Incentives to consolidate local governments
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 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 – Disposition of vacated school buildings or other State-owned buildings
SB 275 – Creating an intermediate court of appeals
SB 286 – Prohibiting syringe exchange programs
SB 303 – Enacting Students’ Right to Know Act
SB 482 – Eliminating permit requirement for storing concealed handgun in vehicle on school property for persons over 21
SB 514 – Creating West Virginia FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Act
SB 521 – Creating Tax and Economic Incentives Review Commission
SB 538 – Repealing excise tax on soft drinks
SB 576 – Relating to management of public records
SB 583 – Renewable Energy Resources program
SB 616 – Relating to employment grievance procedure for public employees
SB 648 – Providing dental coverage for adult Medicaid recipients
SB 703 – Increasing earning limit for employees who accept separation incentive
SB 730 – Campus Self-Defense Act
Legislative Calendar and Important DatesLast 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 Bills on Third Reading (Crossover Day) February 26, 2020
Last Day of Regular Session March 7, 2020
WVU at the State CapitolTravis 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 ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rocco Fucillo ( email@example.com).
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.