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January 24, 2022 Edition

In Review

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

Last week, Governor Justice announced that he had tested COVID-positive and was unable to deliver his State of the State address in person. The West Virginia constitution requires the governor to deliver an address to the Legislature on the first day of the regular session each year. In order to meet that requirement, the Governor’s Office hand-delivered a written address to the Legislature. The Governor’s Office has announced that Governor Justice will deliver his sixth State of the State address to a joint session of the West Virginia Legislature in the House of Delegates chamber, Thursday, January 27, 2022, at 7 p.m.

In the address, Governor Justice highlighted the record budget surpluses the State is currently experiencing (around $475 million, as of today) and the economic development announcements happening across the state (Nucor in Mason County, Owens & Minor in Monongalia County and GreenPower Motor in Kanawha County).

Governor Justice also highlighted the drop in unemployment rates from a 7.1% high in January 2021 to 3.7% in December 2021. In the speech, Governor Justice also pushed for a pay raise for State employees – along with an inflation “bonus” – and proposed a $4.65 billion budget.

The Budget

The FY23 budget (around $4.65 billion) is 1.4% more than last year’s budget. The majority of these increases come in $113 million for the pay raises and $42 million for inmate medical care.

WVU’s appropriation, as proposed by the governor, will be around $114 million and overall is about $4.6 million more than what WVU will receive this fiscal year.

Pay Raises

In December, Governor Justice and legislative leaders announced a 5% pay raise for State employees and a 2.5% inflation “bonus.” It is important to note that the 5% pay raise is an average increase, based on a calculation of the average State employee salary (which is about $50,000) and the number of State employees funded by general revenue and lottery funds. This does not include special revenue employees.

In the FY23 budget, WVU would receive about $2.6 million in additional appropriation to provide pay raises. The Legislature and Governor’s Office are still reviewing how to structure that “bonus” and where the funding would come from.


Broadband 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 Tax

Two 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 Carry

Three 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 Elements

A 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 Theory

Two 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 Introduced

More 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 Legislature

WVU 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 Calendar

First 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

WVU at the Capitol

Travis Mollohan and Rocco Fucillo, both part of WVU’s State Government Relations team, represent WVU at the State Capitol during the session. They can answer questions about any issues addressed by the Legislature. Contact them via email 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 daily activities, please visit

To learn more about WVU’s legislative and government relations initiatives, please visit .