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 a rundown of the bills that completed the legislative process and those that failed to cross the finish line by the midnight deadline on March 12.
On Saturday morning, the House passed Senate Bill 250, the Budget Bill. The version passed the Senate last Thursday and is a compromise between the two chambers. It preserves funding for WVU that was included in the Governor’s introduced budget and provides additional money for a portion of the pay raises promised in the Governor’s State of the State. The budget accounts for $14 million from the insurance premium tax for WVU Health Sciences, which will replace the soda tax revenue that has supported our academic medical, nursing and dental programs since 1951.
The Legislature also included in the surplus section of the budget $600 million for economic development projects, $100 million for Congressional earmark maintenance of effort spending and $265 million in additional budget surplus.
Senate Bill 498 did not cross the finish line. The bill substantially changed from what was introduced back in January. Senate Education reformed several provisions that would affect both K-12 and higher education. Once the bill made it to the House of Delegates, the House Education Committee removed the section impacting higher education. House Judiciary then further reduced the burden to K-12, and on the House floor, the chamber adopted more changes before passing the bill 75-24 and sending it back to the Senate. However, the bill failed to meet the midnight deadline and did not become law.
FUNDING FORMULAHouse Bill 4008 completed the legislative process and heads to the Governor’s desk. It 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. The bill also includes a provision that would allow four-year institutions to create new four-year programs on their existing campuses without HEPC approval.
DEBT SERVICE AND SODA TAX
CHILD CARE TAX CREDIT
COALFIELD GRANTS COMMISSIONHouse Bill 4479 completed the legislative process on Friday. It 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 EDA 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.
BUILD WV ACT
House Bill 4502 incentivizes the building of residential housing in targeted regions of West Virginia. The bill would allow for a reduction of certain taxes for materials, services and personal property taxes. The bill will enhance housing for residents and communities and help to attract individuals and families, such as remote workers, to the Mountain State.
SB 230Senate Bill 230 would have changed the grievance procedure for public employees. The bill passed the Senate 23-11 and was changed by the House Judiciary Committee before reaching the House floor. On Friday, the House of Delegates rejected the bill on a vote of 39-61.
BILL RUNDOWNMore than 2,200 bills were introduced during this session, but only 293 made it across the finish line. Here are a number of bills that may be of interest:
SB 1 – Creating Mining Mutual Insurance Company
SB 231 – Relating to Broadband Connectivity
SB 656 – Providing Tax Credit for Certain Corporations with Child-Care Facilities
HB 2096 – Reinstating the Film Investment Tax Credit
HB 2910 – Modifying the Allowable Number of Magistrate Judges per County
HB 4001 – Relating to Broadband Connectivity
HB 4002 – Creating the Certified Sites and Development Readiness Program
HB 4311 – Creating Criminal Penalties for Illegal Voting Activity
HB 4479 – Establishing the Coalfield Communities Grant Facilitation Commission
HB 4502 – Establishing the BUILD WV Act
HB 4566 – Creating the Economic Enhancement Grant Fund
SB 228 – Providing Tuition and Fee Waivers for AmeriCorps Volunteers
SB 533 – Funding for Health Sciences and Medical Schools in State
SB 546 – Expanding Use of Fees Paid by Students at Higher Education Institutions
HB 4008 – Relating to Higher Education Policy Commission Funding Formula
HB 4291 – Authorizing Legislative Rules for Higher Education
HB 4355 – Relating to the Disclosure by Higher Education Institutions of Certain Information and Charges Assessed Regarding Textbooks and Digital Courseware
SB 246 – Requiring Newly Constructed and Majorly-Improved Public Schools to Have Water Bottle Filling Stations
SB 261 – Requiring Video Cameras in Certain Special Education Classrooms
SB 529 – Encouraging Additional Computer Science Education in Public Schools
SB 704 – Allowing Parents, Grandparents and Guardians to Inspect Instructional Materials in Classrooms
SB 25 – Updating Provisions of Medical Professional Liability Act
SB 138 – Relating to Board of Medicine Composition
SB 205 – Expanding PEIA Finance Board Membership
SB 419 – Establishing Pilot Project to Evaluate Impact of Certain Post-Substance Use Disorder Residential Treatments
SB 518 – Allowing Nurses Licensed in Another State to Practice in West Virginia
HB 2817 – Donated Drug Repository Program
HB 4012 – Prohibiting the Showing of Proof of a COVID-19 Vaccination
HB 4257 – Requiring Visitation Immediately Following Procedure in Health Care Facility
HB 4276 – Creating Parkinson’s Disease Registry at WVU
HB 4373 – Excluding Fentanyl Test Strips from the Definition of Drug Paraphernalia
SB 4 – Repealing Ban on Construction of Nuclear Power Plants
HB 4003 – Relating to Commercial Benefit of Substances Like Rare Earth Elements Removed from Waters of the State by the Treatment of Mine Drainage
HB 4098 – Relating to Geothermal Energy Development
HB 4491 – Establishing Requirements for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration