Under the Dome delivers a review of 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 addressed. This edition includes an update on many bills and activities happening in Charleston, as the Legislature enters the final week of its 60-day regular session.
SB 250 passed the Senate on Friday. It preserves funding for WVU that was included
in the Governor’s introduced budget and provides additional money for a small portion
of the pay raises promised in the Governor’s State of the State address.
HB 4023 passed the House Finance Committee on Thursday. It will be considered this week by the full House. It increases WVU’s line item by $100,000 but also places $14 million in the surplus section of the budget, which means the University will only receive that portion of funding if the State has a surplus by the end of the fiscal year. Currently, West Virginia is on track for a $675 million budget surplus.
The Senate and House will have to resolve their differences in order to pass a budget by the end of the regular session, which occurs at midnight on Saturday, March 12.
SB 498, the Anti-Racism Act of 2022, would affect both K-12 public schools and institutions
of higher education. The bill would prohibit a school and its employees from providing
instruction in, requiring instruction in, making part of a course, or requiring
a statement or affirmation by an employee of certain concepts, including that one
race, group or ethnicity is inherently superior or racist, sexist or oppressive
because of their race, ethnicity or biological sex. It also prohibits discrimination
against certain individuals because of their background and states that an individual
does not bear responsibility for actions committed by other members of the same
race, ethnicity or biological sex. However, the bill does not prohibit the discussion
of those concepts in theory as part of an academic course as long as a discussion
of alternative theories is presented. WVU officials have discussed concerns relating
to the bill with legislators and will continue to engage and monitor this legislation
and its impact on the University and our faculty.
The bill has passed the Senate last Wednesday on a 21-12 vote. A public hearing was held on Monday in the House Chamber, and the bill was considered by the House Education Committee following the public hearing. In the committee, the provisions relating to higher education were stripped from the bill, meaning the act would no longer affect institutions of higher education. SB 498 goes next to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
SB 546 would allow an institution of higher education to pledge a portion of its
tuition and fee revenue toward debt service and would add IT projects to the list
of capital projects that an institution of higher education could issue debt for.
The bill passed the Senate on February 10 and was considered by House Finance on
Saturday, where it also passed. The bill is expected to pass the full House sometime
HB 4008 funds a portion of an institution’s appropriation based on certain performance
metrics focused on student success and mission achievement that strengthen the
state’s economy and workforce; sets a floor for year-to-year appropriations; differentiates
missions and goals for institutions; and maintains administrative and statutory
exemptions for certain schools, including WVU. The bill would go into effect in
the FY2024 State budget year cycle with a hold-harmless provision of three years.
HEPC would track the metrics and submit to the Governor and Legislature what an
institution should receive in State funding based on the formula. The Governor
and Legislature, however, would still retain the authority to set appropriations.
A similar bill, SB 550, was introduced by Senator Eric Tarr and passed the Senate several weeks ago. It contains much of the same language as HB 4008, but it adds a provision that would allow schools to create new programs, that are of high priority in the funding formula, without approval of HEPC.
The Senate Education Committee passed HB 4008 last week and sent it to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.
The House Finance Committee passed SB 550 this weekend after making changes to it that match its provisions to the House version. It will next go to the full House for further consideration.
CHILD CARE TAX CREDIT
SB 656 would incentivize employers to create childcare facilities via a 100% tax
credit that would be received over five years. The bill would also allow a business
to join with other businesses in creating new childcare centers. The goal is to
give employers a new option to help recruit and retain workers, and to give employees
of participating employers the benefit of having childcare close to their workplace.
WVU is in full support of this legislation. The University believes the bill would enhance quality of life, increase workforce participation, reduce the burden on working families and improve the educational attainment of young children. President Gee has signed a letter with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and other businesses and organizations asking for the Legislature to pass the bill.
The bill passed the Senate on March 1 and will go to the House, where the House Finance Committee will consider the bill.
House Concurrent Resolution 92 was approved by the House on Thursday. It requests
the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the mental health needs
for students in higher education institutions. This study would occur during the
upcoming legislative interim meetings and would result in a proposal being considered
during the 2023 regular session of the Legislature. The resolution is the direct
result of the incredible work done by members of the WVU Student Government Association
who have been advocating for increased support for student mental health services.
A bill (HB 4678 – the Mountain Resiliency Act) was introduced to address similar
issues but did not pass the House by crossover day last week.
BUILD WV ACT
HB 4502, sponsored by Speaker Hanshaw and Delegate Skaff, would create the BUILD
WV Act. The act incentivizes the building of residential housing in targeted regions
of the state. The bill would allow for a reduction of certain taxes for materials,
services and personal property taxes. WVU is in full support of this legislation,
as it would help to enhance housing for residents and communities already in West
Virginia and help to attract more individuals, such as remote workers, to the Mountain
State. The bill passed the House 81-14 last week and now goes to the Senate.
COALFIELD GRANTS COMMISSION
HB 4479 creates the Coalfield Community Grant Facilitation Commission. The purpose
of the commission is to assist coalfield communities with applying for and administering
federal, state and local grants for economic development and revitalization efforts.
The commission will be chaired by the Economic Development Authority and its members
will be from business and industry, higher education, community foundations, county
and municipal governments, and three members from different regions of the state.
Liz Vitullo, assistant dean of strategic initiatives for the Chambers College and director of Startup West Virginia, has been working with the Select Committee on Coalfield Communities to advance the bill. She and Sara Payne Scarbro, Marshall University’s associate vice president for external engagement, spoke to the committee about the importance of their work to create a statewide grants commission to help counties and municipalities with funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and the federal bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The bill passed the full House on February 22 and was amended and passed by the Senate Economic Development Committee last week. The bill is expected to be adopted by the full Senate this week.
STUDENT JOURNALIST PRESS FREEDOM PROTECTION ACT
SB 216 would protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press for student journalists
and school-sponsored media whether the media is supported financially by a school,
uses school facilities or is produced in conjunction with a course or class that
the student is enrolled in. Colleges and universities will have to adopt written
policies protecting free expression for student journalists. The bill passed the
Senate unanimously on February 22 and will next go to the House, where the House
Education Committee and the House Judiciary Committee will have to consider the
Several bills are moving related to energy production in West Virginia.
On rare earth elements, HB 4003 has passed the House and passed Senate Energy, Industry and Mining. It establishes rights to compounds, substances and elements found in the treatment process of acid mine drainage. It now goes to the Senate for consideration. HB 4025, which provides a severance tax exemption on severing rare earth elements, has passed the House. It will now go to the Senate for consideration.
HB 4098 would help with the development of geothermal energy. It passed the House and passed Senate Energy, Industry and Mining. It will next be considered by Senate Judiciary.
SB 4, which lifts West Virginia’s nuclear energy ban, has passed the Senate and House. Governor Justice signed it into law on February 8. The law will go into effect on May 1.
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
email@example.com) or Rocco Fucillo (
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 governmentrelations.wvu.edu.