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 that impact the Mountain
State and its citizens. The edition includes highlights from the first two weeks
of session, the State of the State address, campus carry and a rundown of bills introduced
and passed during by the 86th Legislature of West Virginia.
Senate Bill 10 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. It would permit campus carry on campus, in classrooms and in certain buildings and spaces. The bill is very similar to House Bill 2519, which passed the House in 2019 but failed in the Senate.WVU does not support statewide campus carry. We support local control and believe our Board of Governors is best suited to decide whether guns should be permitted on campus. However, there is widespread support in the Legislature for campus carry. We have asked legislators to make sure certain safeguards and best practices from other states remain in the bill.
The bill will be up for final passage in the Senate on Monday or Tuesday and will next go to the House of Delegates for consideration.To read a copy of the letter from President Gee and Marshall University President Brad Smith, please visit https://presidentgee.wvu.edu/files/d/a1543596-ece5-4108-8bf7-28714bda996b/letter-from-gee-and-smith-on-sb10.pdf .
Deferred MaintenanceIn his State of the State address, Governor Justice committed $75 million to deferred maintenance issues for public colleges. HEPC Chancellor Sarah Tucker, in her budget presentation to House and Senate finance committees, will echo that request and highlight the need for additional resources to address major issues on the campuses of the two- and four-year institutions.
Critical Race TheorySenate Bill 130 passed the Senate 30-2 on the first day of session. It would ban the teaching of divisive concepts and critical race theory. It does not affect higher education. This is the same bill that passed the House last year but failed in the Senate on the last night of session.
State of the StateOn January 11, Governor Justice delivered his seventh State of the State address. In his speech, he outlined some key priorities: a flat budget for Fiscal Year 2024; additional monies for PEIA; additional money in the budget for pay raises for general revenue funded employees; reduction in the personal income tax; a Welcome Home Grant Program for veterans; support for K-3 literacy and additional teacher’s aides; and investment in several projects through one-time spending.
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 BudgetThe FY24 budget (around $4.44 billion) is approximately 5.5% more than last year’s budget. The majority of the $248 million in increases come in $114 million for pay raises, $59 million for PEIA, costs of goods due to inflation and a number of projects the Governor wishes to invest in.
Tax ReformGovernor Justice has proposed a 50% reduction in the personal income tax across all tax brackets. His proposal, which was introduced to the Legislature in House Bill 2526, would reduce the tax 30% the first year and 10% each of the following two years.
The bill quickly passed the House Finance Committee last week and passed the full House of Delegates on Wednesday by a vote of 95-2. It will next go to the Senate for consideration, where the Senate Finance Committee Chair has already signaled the bill is “DOA.”
DHHRHouse Bill 2006 would split the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources into three separate departments: the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health Care Facilities. The bill passed the House Health Committee and will be considered next by the House Finance Committee.
Public HealthA number of bills have been introduced affecting public health policy. In the House, House Bills 2558, 2559 and 2590 were introduced this week, which would impact immunizations, mask mandates and the state’s helmet law. House Bill 2558 would provide a religious exemption for compulsory immunizations. House Bill 2559 would prohibit mask mandates in West Virginia. Finally, House Bill 2590 would repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law.
More than 1,000 bills have been introduced. Several bills are being followed by the WVU Government Relations Team and are of interest to the University and our community. High-profile bills include:Senate
SB 1 – Requiring HEPC to create the Promise Plus Scholarship Program
SB 9 – West Virginia Monument and Memorial Protection Act
SB 10 – The Campus Self-Defense Act
SB 11 – Prohibiting Excessive Government Limitations on Exercise of Religion
SB 19 – Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act
SB 23 – Fetal Heartbeat Act
SB 85 – Establishing Tax Credit for Certain Physicians Who Locate to Practice in WV
SB 93 – Prohibiting the Teaching of Divisive Acts and Critical Race Theory in Public Schools
SB 103 – Prohibiting Certain Funding and Attendance of Minors to Drag Shows
SB 121 – Creating Student Journalist Press Freedom Protection Act
SB 125 – Safeguarding Concealed Carry Permit Holder’s Information
SB 126 – Reorganizing DHHR
SB 127 – Relating to Reimbursement of Hospital Inpatient Rates for PEIA
SB 130 – Anti-Racism Act of 2023
SB 153 – West Virginia Chemical Abortion Prohibition Act
SB 188 – Creating Grid Stabilization and Security Act of 2023
SB 215 – Creating No TikTok on Government Devices Act
SB 227 – Promise for Promise Act
SB 238 – Specifying When Public Employee’s Spouse May Be Covered by PEIA
SB 266 – Relating to Tobacco Usage Restrictions
SB 269 – Increasing Dental Coverage Limit for Medicaid Enrollees
SB 288 – Relating to Sexual Assault Examination NetworkHouse
HB 2001 – Reduce Personal Income Tax Rates by 10% for All
HB 2003 – Providing Early Childhood Assistant Teachers and Systems of Support to Help Students Achieve Grade Level Literacy and Numeracy by End of Third Grade
HB 2005 – Establishing Dual Enrollment Pilot Program to Be Administered by HEPC and CTC in Conjunction with State Board of Education
HB 2006 – Reorganizing DHHR
HB 2009 – Authority and Obligations of the Governor and Legislature When in Declared States of Preparedness and Emergency
HB 2024 – Budget Bill
HB 2510 – Establishing Rare Earth Element and Critical Mineral Investment Tax Credit Act
HB 2526 – Reducing the Personal Income Tax
HB 2536 – Permitting Physicians to Provide Exemption Certificates Relating to Required Immunizations
HB 2542 – Make It Illegal for Any State Employee to Access TikTok through a Government Device
HB 2558 – Providing a Religious Exemption for Compulsory Immunizations
HB 2559 – Prohibiting Mask Mandates in the State of West Virginia
HB 2590 – Repealing the State Helmet Law
HB 2633 – Campus Self-Defense Act
HB 2637 – Creating a State Central Legal Advertising Website
HB 2757 – Amending Eligibility of West Virginia Invests Program by Providing That a Not-for-Profit Hospital Based Allied Health Program Is Eligible
HB 2759 – Updating the Health Care Provider Tax
HB 2603 – Vaccination and Mask Requirements
HB 2768 – Require All State Entities and Chapter 30 Boards Use “.gov” Domains and Email Addresses
HB 2774 – Veterans Welcome Home Grant Program
HB 2775 – Raise Pay for Certain Employees
HB 2786 – Objective Reality in Government Act
HB 2789 – Relating to Certificate of Need
HB 2800 – Authorizing Higher Education Rules
Legislative CalendarTuesday, January 31 WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Capitol
Thursday, February 2 Monongalia/Preston County Day at the Legislature
Tuesday, February 14 Last Day to Introduce Bills in the House
Monday, February 20 Last Day to Introduce Bills in the Senate
Sunday, February 26 Bills Due Out of Committee in Chamber of Origin
Wednesday, March 1 Last Day to Consider Bills on Third Reading (Crossover Day)
Saturday, March 11 Last Day of Session (Adjournment at Midnight)
To learn more about the Legislature, including district maps, committee assignments, bill tracking and a summary of daily activities, please visit wvlegislature.gov .To learn more about WVU’s government relations and legislative initiatives, please visit governmentrelations.wvu.edu or contact Travis Mollohan, director of government relations, at email@example.com.