Under the Dome delivers a review of the issues being considered by the 85th Legislature of West Virginia. It provides information on matters that affect WVU and higher education. This edition provides an update on the budget, the personal income tax reduction plan, the soft drinks tax and other issues, including several high-profile bills being debated as the Legislature heads into the final week of regular session.
Last Monday, the House Finance Committee revealed its budget plan for Fiscal Year 2022. The budget bill, House Bill 2022, reduces WVU’s appropriation by $18 million. The House bill does, however, include WVU in the surplus portion of the budget, meaning the University will receive this amount back in the event of a surplus. Current estimates by House Finance analysts suggest enough money exists in surplus revenue funds to make up the difference after July 1 of this year. The bill passed the committee and was passed by the full House on Friday by a vote of 83-14.
The Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday, unveiled its budget plan for Fiscal Year 2022. Their version, Senate Bill 125, reduces WVU’s appropriation by $12 million. Unlike the House bill, WVU’s cut is not backfilled in the surplus revenue section of the budget. Additionally, the Health Sciences divisions in Morgantown, Charleston and Martinsburg would also see an overall reduction of 1.5% along with many other state agencies.
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 Judiciary.
As we stated during the debate in 2019, 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 none of these bills have seen action by the Senate or House, including being considered by committees in their house of origin by the 45th day of regular session (March 28) or passing by “cross-over day” (March 31), the Government Relations Team will continue to monitor the issue and any other bill, amendment or policy that would permit guns on campus.
PERSONAL INCOME TAX PLAN
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: https://governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2021/Pages/Gov.-Justice-submits-legislation-to-repeal-personal-income-tax,-putting-more-money-in-every-WVian’s-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: https://governor.wv.gov/Documents/Governor-Justices-State-Income-Tax-Repeal-Plan-Bill-Abstract.pdf .
A number of trade and business interest groups, including the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the West Virginia Business and Industry Council, have publicly raised concerns with the governor’s plan.
Last week, the House Finance Committee unveiled and passed its alternative plan to reduce the personal income tax. House Bill 3300 would reduce personal income tax collections by $150 million a year ($75 million in FY22) over a number of years until the personal income tax is ultimately phased out. A fund would also be set up to help speed up the rate of the phase-out. The bill passed the House of Delegates 77-23 on Monday.
On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee adopted a strike-and-insert amendment to House Bill 3300 that drastically altered the plan to reduce the personal income tax. The Senate plan cuts the personal income tax at a faster pace and replaces it with a number of tax increases and tax changes to offset revenue.
One element that would have significantly impacted the University was a plan in the bill to repeal the current soft drinks tax and replace it with a food tax. The soft drinks tax generates about $14 million each year for the operation and maintenance of WVU’s medical, dental and nursing programs. The Senate plan would have eliminated it and redirected the new food tax on soft drinks to general revenue in order to pay for the reduction in the personal income tax. With strong support from Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha), Senate Health Chair Mike Maroney (R-Marshall), Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) and others, the Finance Committee unanimously decided to remove that change from the plan and keep supporting the University health programs.
SENATE BILL 657
The Senate Judiciary Committee considered, amended and passed Senate Bill 657, which relates to free expression on the campuses of state institutions of higher education. The bill prohibits the establishment of free speech zones and declares outdoor areas of campuses available for public forums. Institutions may enact reasonable time, place and manner restrictions for persons or groups, and those persons and groups cannot intentionally, materially or substantially disrupt another person or group or disrupt the functioning of the institution. An institution must publish its rules on its website and report any incidents or barriers to the Higher Education Policy Commission. The bill was considered and passed by the Senate unanimously on Wednesday.
REMOTE WORKER LEGISLATION
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 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.
Last week, the House Finance Committee discussed and passed the bill. It passed the House 95-2 and has passed the Senate Finance Committee unanimously. It passed the Senate on Tuesday 29-5 and because it was unchanged in the Senate, now goes to the governor’s desk for approval.
For more information on the purpose of the legislation, please visit: https://governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2021/Pages/Gov.-Justice-submits-legislation-to-make-West-Virginia-a-haven-for-remote-workers-by-reforming-corporate-tax-laws.aspx .
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 these bills have seen action by the Senate or House, including being considered by committees in their house of origin by the 45th day of regular session (March 28) or passing by “cross-over day” (March 31), the Government Relations Team will continue to monitor the issue and any other bill, amendment or policy that would affect the soft drinks tax.
House Bill 3293
House Bill 3293, which originated in and passed from the House Education Committee two weeks ago, would permit only single-sex participation in interscholastic athletic events in middle and high school programs. The bill was debated and passed by the House Judiciary Committee and passed the full House 78-20 last week.
In the Senate, the Senate Education Committee amended the bill to include college and university programs. It will be on amendment stage in the Senate on Tuesday, April 6, and up for final passage on Wednesday, April 7.
WVU’s LGBTQ+ Center and the Department of Pediatrics sent letters to legislators voicing their concerns and opposition to the bill.
So far, 201 bills have passed the House of Delegates and 188 have passed the Senate; 95 bills (52 from the House and 43 from the Senate) have passed both chambers, and 39 of those have been signed by Governor Justice, while one bill became law without the governor’s signature and one bill was vetoed by the governor for technical issues.
More than 2,030 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:
HJR 1 – Education Accountability Amendment
HJR 3 – Property Tax Modernization Amendment
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 2121 – Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn Fair Pay Act
HB 2140 – Redirecting excise tax revenue on bottled soft drinks from WVU to PEIA
HB 2172 – College Graduate Tax Credit
HB 2174 – West Virginia Monument and Memorial Protection Act
HB 2224 – Relating to complaints against public agencies to obtain records through the Freedom of Information Act
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
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 drinks tax
HB 2315 – Relating to PROMISE Scholarship program requirements
HB 2336 – Establishing the Katherine Johnson Academy
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 2592 – Requiring counties and municipalities to hold all local elections during statewide elections
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
HB 3150 – Capping the cost of in-state tuition for West Virginia colleges and universities who receive state funding
HB 3156 – To ban the prevalent and intrusive Chinese Communist Parties Confucius institutions in West Virginia
HB 3157 – The Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act
HB 3177 – Removing expired, outdated, inoperative and antiquated provisions and report requirements in education
HB 3192 – Creating the West Virginia Farm Fresh Dairy Act
HB 3197 – Allow Religious Exemptions for vaccines
HB 3220 – Restrictions on taxpayer funded lobbying
HB 3247 – Creating the Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn Fair Pay Act
HB 3285 – To provide for the HSTA scholarship in Hampshire County
HB 3293 – Relating to single-sex participation in interscholastic athletic events
HB 3299 – Authorizing Higher Education Rules
HB 3300 – Relating to reducing personal income tax rates generally
SJR 1 – Protection of the Right to Bear Arms Amendment
SJR 7 – Motor Vehicle and Other Personal Property Tax Reduction Amendment
SJR 10 – Limiting the Terms of Members of the House of Delegates and Senate Amendment
SJR 11 – Constitutional Officer Term Limit Amendment
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 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 288 – Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act
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 colleges
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 509 – Removing the requirement that determination of medical stability be found prior to admission to mental health facility
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 588 – Requiring county boards of education and county superintendents to comply with instructions of State Board of Education
SB 590 – Removing restriction preventing medical marijuana from being in edible form
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/ 666 – 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
SB 622 – Increasing compensation for elected county officials
SB 640 – Creating Tobacco Cessation Initiative Program Special Revenue Account within State Treasury
SB 657 – Relating to free expression on state institution of higher education campuses
SB 660 – Providing for cooperation between law-enforcement agencies and military authorities
SB 692 – Prohibiting unlawful discrimination practices covered by the Human Rights Act and Fair Housing Act
SB 715 – Creating Recovery and Hope Act
LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR AND IMPORTANT DATES
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.
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 ( 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 www.wvlegislature.gov .
To learn more about WVU’s legislative and government relation initiatives, please visit governmentrelations.wvu.edu .