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March 12, 2021 Edition


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 third week of legislative session, including several high-profile bills introduced and being debated.


Senate Bill 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.

An additional Senate bill – Senate Bill 570, Creating the Campus Self-Defense Act – was introduced on March 5 and contains fewer restrictions than Senate Bill 246. In the House, two bills were introduced earlier this week to permit guns on college campuses. House Bill 2978 and 3022 were double-referenced to House Education and House Judiciary.

As we stated during the debate 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.

The Government Relations Team is continuing to monitor this issue, and we are seeing movement on Campus Carry.  Attached at the end of this edition is a letter sent to all members of the West Virginia Senate by West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee on March 11.


Governor Justice’s plan to reduce the personal income tax (House Bill 2027 and Senate Bill 600) was introduced in the House and Senate on Monday. To find out more about the governor’s plan, please visit:,-putting-more-money-in-every-WVian%27s-pocket-on-day-one.aspx.

The Governor’s Office released an abstract of the bill, which details how the plan pays for the reduction in personal income tax. You can find that information at the link above or by going to: .


House Bill 2019 would elevate the Division of Tourism, Office of Economic Development and the director positions leading those offices from branches of the Department of Commerce to independent cabinet-level positions and departments. Governor Justice believes this will help in attracting and marketing the Mountain State to businesses and tourists. It passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House overwhelmingly on a roll-call vote of 86-13. Governor Justice signed the bill on March 8.


During his State of the State address, Governor Justice announced that he is submitting a bill to the Legislature to help attract remote workers to the Mountain State. Senate Bill 373 and House Bill 2026, which would modernize the collection of state corporate income taxes for mobile workforces, were introduced last week. 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 plant their operations in West Virginia, by making the following changes:

• Adopts model tax provisions regarding 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 increase 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: .


Senate Bill 7, which passed the Senate unanimously after a compromise amendment between Republican and Democratic leaders, would seek to limit political activity of public employees while on duty or while using a vehicle owned or leased by a state agency of a political subdivision of the State. It will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 11 declares a work stoppage or strike by public employees to be unlawful. The bill passed the Senate 21-12, splitting across partisan lines, on February 22. The bill was considered by the House on March 4. It passed 55-44 and has been sent to the governor’s desk.


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

House Bill 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.

Senate Bill 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.

House Bill 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.

House Bill 2649, sponsored by Delegate Sean Hornbuckle (D-Cabell), would modify the tax on soft drinks to cover all sugary drinks. The bill would provide $18 million in funding for WVU’s medical, nursing and dental schools and $5 million for Marshall’s medical school and $3 million for the School of Osteopathic Medicine. Excess proceeds will be used to give teachers and school service personnel a pay raise.

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


More than 1,600 bills have been introduced during the 2021 regular session. Those being followed by our government relations team and of most interest to the University and our community 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 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 2256 – Providing municipal services user fee may not be imposed on employees of the State
HB 2264 – Hospital exemptions from certificate of need
H B 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 drinks 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/ SB 558 – Prohibiting “divisive concepts” from schools, State agencies and any groups receiving State funding
HB 2637 – West Virginia Residential Incentive Tax Credit Act
HB 2649 – Modifying the tax on soft drinks to only cover sugary drinks
HB 2655 – Expanding felony hate crime protections to individuals on the basis of perceived or actual sexual orientation
HB 2657 – Relating to the antihazing law
HB 2728 – Require all vaccinations for school attendance be included in West Virginia Code
HB 2746 – Establishing behavioral health workforce education initiative at the Higher Education Policy Commission
HB 2750 – Transferring certain property to the Economic Development Office
HB 2763 – Creating West Virginia Cyber Incident Reporting
HB 2771 – Creating the Economic Development Tuition Waiver
HB 2778 – Creating the Education Tax Credit
HB 2783 – Permitting a licensed physician to grant a medical exemption from the required immunizations for a child to enter a school or State-regulated childcare center
HB 2787 – Authorizing the director of the Division of Purchasing to increase or decrease the dollar limit of agency-delegated procurements based upon inspection
HB 2793 – Permit out-of-state residents to obtain West Virginia concealed carry permits
HB 2805 – Making Pierpont Community and Technical College a division of Fairmont State University known as Pierpont College of Community and Technical Education
HB 2820 – Relating to oversight of syringe exchange programs by DHHR
HB 2822 – Requiring State purchases of certain items to be made from authorized dealers in this state
HB 2832 – Protecting political ideas and speech in the hiring process at schools and universities
HB 2845 – Stop Social Media Censorship Act
HB 2851 – Relating to sunset provisions of legislative rules
HB 2856 – Relating to performance metrics for the West Virginia Division of Highways
HB 2858 – Requiring the Commissioner of Highways to develop a formula for allocating roads funds among districts
HB 2869 – To remove any mandators mask mandate in West Virginia
HB 2881 – Removing Hepatitis B from the list of required vaccinations
HB 2888 – Relating to when contentions can be revived based on forensic scientific evidence that was not available at time of conviction
HB 2893 – Relating to Economic Opportunity Tax Credit limits
HB 2907 – Prohibiting political subdivisions from enacting certain ordinances, regulations, local policies, local resolutions, or other legal requirements
HB 2913 – Social Media Integrity and Anti-Corruption in Elections Act
HB 2915 – Relating to public records management and preservation
HB 2923 – Relating to social media privacy and educational institutions
HB 2925 – Relating to data disposal protection
HB 2951 – Repeal of authority granted to municipalities to levy business and occupation or privilege tax
HB 2965
– Requiring PEIA, Medicaid and other health insurance providers to cover treatment of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders
HB 2978 – Gun carry allowed on college campuses
HB 2984 – To revise the West Virginia Tax Increment Financing Act to authorize a county commissioner or municipal levying body to modify the termination times of certain districts
HB 2998 – Relating to unlawful discriminatory practices covered by the Human Rights Act and Fair Housing Act
HB 3007 – Creating Pilot Program for Remote Workers
HB 3008 – Prohibit the removal of a State government facility in a small community without an impact study
HB 3019 – Create the Campus Free Expression Act
HB 3022 – Campus Self-Defense Act
HB 3055 – Creating the “Council on Efficient Government” 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 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 303 – Creating Local Government Labor and Consumer Marketing Regulatory Limitation Act
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 college
SB 373/ HB 2026 – Modernizing collection of corporate income taxes for mobile workforce
SB 395 – Expanding PEIA Finance Board membership
SB 398 – Relating to moratorium on PEIA coverage with exceptions
SB 453 – Creating inventory and mapping of all roads in state parks, state forests and national parks
SB 470 – Limiting release of certain personal information maintained by government agencies
SB 486 – Relating to powers and duties of chief technology officer
SB 515 – Providing new graduates of in-state or out-of-state higher education institution or trade school $1,000 tax credit
SB 517 – Relating to sunset provisions of legislative rules
SB 561 – Election Security and Access Act
SB 570 – Creating the Campus Self-Defense Act
SB 600/ HB 2027 – Relating to personal income tax reduction
SB 601 – Relating generally to public employees’ grievance procedure
SB 603 – Authorizing new market entrants to conduct remote sports wagering and remote interactive wagering
SB 610 – Providing tuition and fee waivers at state higher education institutions for volunteers who have completed service in AmeriCorps programs in West Virginia
SB 617 – Creating Student Journalist Press Freedom Restoration Act
SB 618 – Prohibiting teaching of divisive acts and critical race theory in public schools
SB 619 – Replacing Higher Education Policy Commission with new Office of Post-Secondary Education


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. 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.


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 (


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


March 11, 2021

Dear West Virginia University Campus Community,

I wanted to share with you a letter I sent to members of the West Virginia Senate earlier today regarding the potential campus carry legislation being contemplated by the West Virginia Legislature. This is an important issue for our campus, and we will continue to share updates and information. I encourage you to monitor email,, and upcoming editions of Under the Dome. If you wish to share your thoughts on the potential legislation, call or email West Virginia State Senators.

Dear Members of the West Virginia Senate,
There have been no less than four bills introduced during this legislative session that would limit the authority of our Board of Governors to regulate the presence of firearms on our campuses.  Providing a safe learning environment for students is the supreme responsibility of any university. For that reason, West Virginia University opposes these pieces of legislation, which in varying forms would allow individuals licensed to carry concealed weapons to carry them on college and university campuses.

We believe that deadly weapons have no place on our campuses, except in the hands of law enforcement personnel or others authorized by the University. And we have always believed that local control by our Board of Governors is the best basis for decisions about security on our campuses around the state.

Under the current system that bans weapons, our well-trained law enforcement staff does an excellent job keeping campuses safe for students, faculty, staff, campus visitors and all those who attend athletic events. Many law enforcement officers believe “campus carry” policies endanger their own lives and make it much more difficult for police to protect the safety of all.

Young adults, who comprise most of our 30,000 students, are still developing emotionally and often engage in conduct that would be made significantly more dangerous by concealed weapons. In this environment, the right to carry concealed guns can increase chances of homicide and suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college age young adults.

As we are seeing more students facing mental health challenges and needing additional mental healthcare, now is not the time to insert firearms into what are already trying situations on campus.

A passionate interplay of ideas enlivens higher education institutions. The presence of guns would have a chilling effect in many situations, from contentious classroom discussions to meetings with faculty members about grades. According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, “right to carry” laws have been associated with higher rates of firearm workplace homicides.

I have heard firsthand that the presence of guns on campus would discourage many talented students and faculty members from joining our learning community or have those who are here look elsewhere.

We also note that some of these pieces of legislation do not protect our most sensitive areas, including classrooms, patient care areas, large-capacity arenas, areas with research involving chemicals, and campus residence halls.

West Virginia University does currently permit guns on campus in some situations, always with awareness and oversight by the University Police Department. For example, guns are essential to certain academic programs, such as Forensic and Investigative Science, and in athletic competition by our Rifle Team. In unique circumstances, such as a specific and immediate death threat against an individual, the president and the University Police Department can grant a waiver allowing someone to carry a weapon.

Another authorized gun on campus is the traditional musket that our Mountaineer mascot carries at University events. The Mountaineer represents West Virginia’s heritage, and our University takes pride in honoring that heritage and the rights of everyone on campus. Above all, as our state’s land-grant university, we advance the right of all Mountaineers to learn, teach, work and speak without fear in a safe, secure environment.

We urge state lawmakers to reject these pieces of legislation.


E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University