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February 24, 2021 Edition

In Review

Under the Dome delivers a review of the issues being considered by the 85th West Virginia Legislature. It provides information on matters that affect WVU and higher education. This edition provides an update on the second week of the legislative session, Senate Finance budget hearing, remote worker legislation and other issues, including several high-profile bills introduced during the first weeks of the session.

Senate Finance Hearing

Last Thursday, WVU President E. Gordon Gee and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop spoke to the Senate Finance Committee regarding the need for stable funding for WVU and to protect investments in higher education. Gee and Alsop also provided an update on the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the costs associated with providing safeguards for our campus and moving to virtual learning operations in the spring, and continuing into fiscal year 2021.

To watch the full presentation and to hear legislators’ questions on the aspects of WVU’s budget, please visit: . (WVU’s presentation begins at 3:39:20 PM, following Marshall University’s.)

Remote Worker Legislation

Governor Justice announced last week that he is submitting a bill to the Legislature to help attract remote workers to the Mountain State. SB 373 and HB 2026, which would modernize the collection of State corporate income taxes for mobile workforces, were introduced on Monday. The legislation is in support of the joint efforts of the University and the West Virginia Division of Tourism on this initiative.

According to the Governor’s Office, if passed, the bill will modernize West Virginia’s corporate tax structure, incentivizing not only remote workers but also businesses looking to locate their operations in West Virginia, by making the following changes:

• Adopts model tax provisions regarding the treatment of remote or mobile employees to remove barriers to businesses that have a remote workforce in West Virginia;

• Ends the “throw out” rule in West Virginia, which artificially increases the State income tax burden for certain businesses;

• Moves this state from “origin sourcing” to “market sourcing” – putting us in line with, and making us competitive with the majority of jurisdictions in the U.S.; and

• Adopts “single sales factor” apportionment, meaning that businesses will no longer be penalized on their West Virginia income taxes for having property or payroll within the state.

The West Virginia Department of Revenue projects that this legislation will be revenue neutral, even considering all the benefits it will provide.

For more information on the purpose of the legislation, please visit: .

Soda Tax

Three bills have been introduced that would affect the soft drinks tax.

HB 2301, sponsored by Delegates Geoff Foster (R-Putnam) and Joe Jeffries (R-Putnam), would repeal the soft drinks tax. The University receives approximately $14 million a year that goes to Health Sciences for the maintenance and operation of the dental, nursing and medical schools.

SB 278, sponsored by Senators Dave Sypolt (R-Preston) and Randy Smith (R-Tucker), would redirect the soft drinks tax from the University to county governments for law enforcement services.

HB 2140, sponsored by Delegates Tony Paynter (R-Wyoming), Pat McGeehan (R-Hancock) and Carl Martin (R-Upshur), would redirect the soft drinks tax from the University to PEIA.

While none of the bills have seen action by the committees to which they were assigned, the government relations team will continue to monitor them and any other bill that would affect the soft drinks tax.

Campus Carry

SB 246 would allow licensed employees and students to carry a concealed weapon on the campus of a public higher education institution. The bill is the same as the bill that passed the House and failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee
in 2019.

As stated during the debate on this issue in 2019, the University does not support this bill. We maintain that, in matters relating to campuses across the System, the Board of Governors is in the best position to make decisions. The University has consistently indicated it prefers current law and local control as it relates to this issue.

While this bill has not seen action by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the government relations team will continue to monitor it and any other bill that would permit guns on campus.

Public Education Changes

The Legislature has introduced and prioritized a number of bills addressing public education.

House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1 would permit the Legislature to review, approve, amend or reject any rules promulgated by the West Virginia Board of Education.

House Bill 2012 would increase the number of public charter schools permitted in the state. It would also create a process for forming a virtual public charter school.

House Bill 2013 would establish the Hope Scholarship Program, which would provide for eligible recipients to receive funds for personal education savings accounts to be used for qualified education expenses.

House Bill 2582 would create a third set of conditions for alternative teacher certification to permit certain individuals with degrees to be able to teach in public school classrooms.

Bills Introduced

More than 1,000 bills have already been introduced during the 2021 regular session.

Those being followed by our government relations team and of most interest to the University include:

HB 2001 – Creating the West Virginia Jumpstart Savings Program
HB 2002 – Relating to broadband
HB 2003 – Relating to the authority and obligations of the governor and Legislature when in declared states of preparedness and emergencies
HB 2007 – Provide for occupational licenses or other authorization to practice by recognition for qualified applicants from other states
HB 2012 – Relating to public charter schools
HB 2014 – Relating to the role of the Legislature in appropriating federal funds
HB 2017 – Rewriting the Criminal Code
HB 2019 – Elevating offices of Tourism and Economic Development to departments
HB 2022 – Budget bill
HB 2024 – Expanding use of telehealth to all medical personnel
HB 2033 – Establishing matrix necessary for an institution of higher education to become exempt from the Higher Education Policy Commission
HB 2042 – Exempting sales tax of small arms and small arms ammunition from State sales and use taxes
HB 2071 – Eliminating certificate of need
HB 2077 – Eliminating the certificate of need program
HB 2082 – Changing the persons responsible for the taxes on soft drinks and soft drink syrups
HB 2140 – Redirecting excise tax revenue on bottled soft drinks from WVU to PEIA
HB 2172 – College Graduate Tax Credit
HB 2249 – Permitting customers and developers to enter into solar power purchase agreements
HB 2264 – Hospital exemptions from certificate of need
HB 2271/ HB 2289 – Requiring compulsory immunization of public school children
HB 2287 – Providing for solar energy production on formerly mined land
HB 2301 – Repealing the soft drink tax
HB 2315 – Relating to PROMISE Scholarship Program requirements
HB 2338 – Adding pasteurized milk and other dairy food produced or processed in West Virginia to the list of items required to be purchased by all State-funded institutions
HB 2484 – Relating to closure of higher education institutions
HB 2486 – Qualifying not-for-profit private baccalaureate institutions for the Advanced Career Education Programs and the West Virginia Invests Grant Program
HB 2487 – Creating a Campus Mentors pilot program
HB 2490 – Requiring fifty percent of all re-appropriated revenue accounts to be surrendered to general revenue
HB 2499 – Tax reduction for arms and ammo manufacturing
HB 2529 – Prohibiting institutions of higher learning and state agencies from discriminating against graduates of private, nonpublic or home schools by requiring them to submit to alternative testing
HB 2583 – Authorizing student athletes to be compensated for name, image or likeness
HB 2586 – Expanding the amount of PROMISE Scholarship funds awarded to persons majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
HB 2591 – Allowing drug courts to establish their own process for accrediting community drug recovery programs in certain cases
HB 2595 – Prohibiting “divisive concepts” from schools, state agencies and any groups receiving State funding
HB 2622 – College tax credit
HB 2624 – Redirecting surplus to state higher education institutions to restore funding
HB 2637 – West Virginia Residential Incentive Tax Credit Act

SB 1 – Providing for parity of payment for telehealth services between service in-person and service provided through telehealth platform
SB 3 – Relating to COVID liability
SB 5 – Creating Intermediate Court of Appeals
SB 7 – Limiting political activity by public employees
SB 11 – Declaring work stoppage or strike by public employees to be unlawful
SB 14 – Providing for additional options for alternative certification of teachers
SB 15 – Relating generally to in-field master’s degree
SB 47 – Creating New Worker Relocation Incentive Program
SB 64 – Allowing certain out-of-state residents to ride a motorcycle without helmet
SB 66 – Creating Voluntary WVU Rifle Team Check-off Program on hunting and fishing licenses
SB 77 – Allowing certain motorcycle operators to ride without helmet
SB 84 – Relating to allocation of premiums of employers and employees in PEIA
SB 86 – Creating Office of Outdoor Recreation
SB 109 – Prohibiting civil rights violations
SB 117/ SB 232/ HB 2547 – Creating Stay in State Tax Credit
SB 125 – Budget Bill
SB 174 – Elevating offices of Tourism and Economic Development to departments
SB 231 – Generally related to medical cannabis
SB 241 – Providing tax credit for new graduates of in-state or out-of-state higher education institution, community or technical college, or trade school
SB 242 – Establishing Promise for All Scholarship Program
SB 246 – Allowing licensed employees, staff, and students of public universities to carry concealed weapon
SB 253/ HB 2308 – Implementing Business PROMISE+ Scholarship
SB 254/ HB 2538 – Adding definitions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to categories covered by Human Rights Act
SB 273 – Expanding telehealth to all medical personnel
SB 275/ HB 2023 – West Virginia Appellate Reorganization Act of 2021
SB 277/ HB 2021 – Creating COVID-19 Liability Act
SB 278 – Redirecting excise tax revenue on bottled soft drinks from WVU to counties for law enforcement support
SB 301 – Relating to patients’ rights and vaccinations
SB 307 – Relating generally to in-state tuition rates for certain persons
SB 334 – Establishing license application process for harm reduction programs
SB 335 – Making PROMISE Scholarships available for students at accredited community and technical colleges
SB 373/ HB 2026 – Modernizing collection of corporate income taxes for mobile workforce
SB 395 – Expanding PEIA Finance Board membership

FYI: Join Focus Forward: Beyond the Cloud
Government, business and education leaders will participate in the Focus Forward: Beyond the Cloud virtual event on March 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to hear how West Virginia can become a global leader in big data analytics while driving entrepreneurial activity and economic growth statewide. Focus Forward: Beyond the Cloud is hosted by the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative in partnership with West Virginia University, Vantage Ventures, the West Virginia High Technology Foundation and Marshall University. Learn more and register at

Legislative Calendar and Important Dates

Last Day to Introduce Bills in House                      Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Last Day to Introduce Bills in Senate                     Monday, March 22, 2021
Bills Due Out of Committees                                  Sunday, March 28, 2021
Last Day to Consider Bills on Third Reading          Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Last Day of Regular Session                                   Saturday, April 10, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no activities are taking place this year at the State Capitol, including WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Legislature. Additionally, due to the health regulations, visitors to the Capitol will need to have an appointment with a legislator or be seeking services from a state agency within the capitol building.

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, visit .