Under the Dome delivers a review of the issues being considered
by the West Virginia Legislature. It provides information on matters that affect
WVU and higher education, as well as other hot topics being debated. This edition
provides an update on the first two weeks of the legislative session, Governor Justice’s
State of the State address and several bills introduced during the first few days
of the 60-day session.
State of the State
BroadbandBroadband is again a major focus of the Legislature. With record investment from the federal government – through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – West Virginia has several million dollars to invest in broadband expansion. HB 4001 was introduced on the first day of session and would create a Legislative Oversight Commission on Economic Development Accountability to track progress on broadband services, establish a Conduit Installation Fund, Dig Once Fund, Middle Mile Fund, fund pole replacement and relocation, set metrics for mapping and expansion and reinforce consumer protection provisions.
Soda TaxTwo bills have been introduced affecting the soda tax. SB 31 would redirect the tax from WVU to county law enforcement agencies, and HB 2140 would redirect it to PEIA. Both of these bills are rollover (or carryover) bills from previous sessions. Normally, these bills do not receive consideration. However, the Government Relations Team will continue to monitor their status and to share the importance of supporting the University’s medical, nursing and dental schools.
Campus CarryThree campus carry bills have been introduced so far. SB 87, HB 2978 and HB 3022 would permit guns to be carried on college campuses. All three of these bills are rollover (or carryover) bills from previous sessions. Normally, these bills do not receive consideration. However, the Government Relations Team will continue to monitor their status and to share the University’s opposition to this issue.
Rare Earth ElementsA number of bills have been introduced to protect rare earth elements in West Virginia. On the House side, HB 4025, 4075, 4088 and 4092 all seek to clarify ownership of the material, provide for tax relief or incentivize economic development surrounding the initiative.
Critical Race TheoryTwo bills have been introduced dealing with critical race theory and/or divisive concepts. SB 182 would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in public K-12 schools. It does not affect institutions of higher education. HB 2595 would prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts by State agencies or organizations receiving State funding. This bill is a rollover (or carryover) bill from last year and is triple-referenced to legislative committees. The Government Relations Team will continue to monitor the status of these bills and any other related bill that might be introduced.
Bills IntroducedMore than 1,400 bills have already been introduced during the 2022 session of the Legislature. Several bills are being followed by the State Government Relations Team and are of interest to the University and our community. A rundown of both House and Senate bills will be included in the next edition of Under the Dome.
WVU Day at the LegislatureWVU Extension and WVU will host WVU Day at the Legislature on Tuesday, January 25. Several interactive exhibits and hands-on activities will be on display, and hundreds of 4-H members from across West Virginia will attend to learn more about WVU’s academic programs, research and outreach efforts, as well as observe the Legislature in action.
Legislative CalendarFirst Day of Session Wednesday, January 12, 2022
WVU Day at the Legislature Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Submission of Rule-Making Review Bills Monday, January 31, 2022
Last Day to Introduce Bills in the House Tuesday, February 15, 2022
WVU Undergraduate Research Day Friday, February 18, 2022
Last Day to Introduce Bills in the Senate Monday, February 21, 2022
Bills Due Out of Committees Sunday, February 27, 2022
Last Day to Consider Bills on Third Reading Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Final Day of Session Saturday, March 12, 2022