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January 17, 2024 Edition

In Review

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. This edition includes highlights from the first week of session, a review of the State of the State address, the Governor’s introduced budget, and a rundown of bills introduced and passed by the House and Senate. 

State of the State

Governor Justice delivered his final State of the State address last week. In the speech, he outlined several proposals, including a 5% pay raise for State employees, more money for Tourism, eliminating the tax on Social Security income, $20 million for senior programs and senior center repairs, $30 million for nursing program expansion support, $50 million for a consolidated agriculture lab on the campus of West Virginia State University, $100 million for rural hospitals and funding for WVU’s Military Ascend Program.

Pay Raises

In his introduced budget, HB 4025 and SB 200, the Governor has proposed another 5% pay raise for State employees. The State calculates the amount for pay raises based on the average public employee salary (likely between $46,000 and $50,000).

State appropriations account for only 15% of the University’s total budget, and only 20% of our benefits-eligible employees are paid through State general revenue funding. Therefore, the University does not receive the full amount necessary to give an across-the-board pay raise to all benefits-eligible employees.

Military Ascend

In his introduced budget, Governor Justice proposed $5 million in surplus funds for the Military Ascend Program. This effort will be used by the Ascend Program staff to help in their efforts to recruit veterans and military service members and their families to move to West Virginia. In addition, the Governor is proposing in-state tuition rates for all veterans and military service members who come to college in the Mountain State.

Deferred Maintenance

Last week, the University announced it had received approximately $47 million in funding from the Higher Education Policy Commission for deferred maintenance work in Morgantown, Keyser and Beckley. The funding is part of the $209 million set aside by the Legislature and Governor last year to address deferred maintenance needs at public colleges and universities across the Mountain State. To read more about the projects, visit:

Select Committee on AI

During its first day of work, the House of Delegates announced the creation of a Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. The committee will review the need for policies and ask for input from experts in the field as it tackles emerging issues around AI and rapidly advancing technology. In September, Amy Cyphert, lecturer in law and director of WVU’s ASPIRE Office, participated in a legislative panel in Charleston called “AI and the Future of WV” and shared her research with state policymakers, technology experts and higher education officials.

Bills Introduced

More than 1,200 bills have already been introduced. Historically, a couple thousand more will be introduced by members of the House and Senate, but only two to three hundred will be seriously considered; fewer will ultimately become law.

Several bills are being followed by the Government Relations Team and are of interest to the University and our community. High-profile bills include:

HB 4011 – Modify exemptions from criminal liability to include a distinction for biological lessons regarding reproduction
HB 4019 – Regulation of sports wagering
HB 4025 – Budget Bill
HB 4172 – Amend section providing for waiver of tuition and fees for older persons auditing certain college classes
HB 4192 – Allow for religious exemptions for getting vaccinations
HB 4195 – Relating to reporting requirements under the Grant Transparency and Accountability Act
HB 4215 – To ensure that hospitals do not provide lesser treatment to unvaccinated individuals as opposed to vaccinated individuals
HB 4271 – Creating the Economic Development Tuition Waiver
HB 4276 – Relating to transferred right of self-defense to a person who engages an active shooter on school grounds
HB 4290 – To create the American Campuses Act
HB 4348 – Relating to natural immunity or antibodies to any illness being treated as equal or better to vaccine induced immunity
HB 4357 – To prohibit public university names for gender affirming care
HB 4387 – Relating to nondiscrimination at institutions of higher education
HB 4401 – Require that all injures and side effects from vaccines be reported by medical professional to the Bureau for Public Health
HB 4403 – Providing options to vaccinations and mask requirements as a condition of entry of schools
HB 4414 – Strengthening anti-hazing laws and policies for pre-K to grade 12
HB 4439 – Prohibiting requiring COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot to attend in-person classes at colleges and universities
HB 4456 – Remove the helmet law in WV
Hb 4457 – Remove assessments for homeschoolers
HB 4464 – Life at Conception Act of 2024
HB 4516 – Revoke spending authority for money used by an agency in support of a challenge to WV law
HB 4563 – Prohibit State funding for any organization that performs abortions
HB 4592 – Relating to a State-funded psychiatric residency program
HB 4629 – Hunger Free Campus Act
HB 4656 – Relating to microreactor development
HB 4693 – Expanding the amount of Promise Scholarship funds awarded to persons majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
HB 4753 – Requiring health insurance policies and Medicaid to cover biomarker testing
HB 4755 – Terminating the Division of Personnel
HB 4756 – Creating a state Alzheimer’s plan task force
HB 4763 – Establishing behavioral health workforce initiative at HEPC
HB 4768 – Increasing the number of out-of-state medical students receiving in-state tuition rates who agree to practice for a specific time in WV
HB 4795 – Permitting an academic medical center to operate an opioid treatment facility
HB 4797 – Relating to reimbursement for childcare based upon enrollment
HB 4822 – Creating the Certified Sites and Development Readiness Program
HB 4824 – Relating to the Certified Industrial Business Expansion Development Program

SB 30 – DHHR rule relating to certificate of need
SB 152 – Displaying official motto in public schools
SB 178 – Relating to dental healthcare service plans
SB 194 – Prohibiting gender transition surgeries, treatments and therapies to minors
SB 198 – Prohibiting teaching of divisive acts and critical race theory in public schools
SB 200 – Budget Bill
SB 225 – Establishing revocation of authority for spending by agency in support of challenge to WV law
SB 257 – Prohibiting mandates for vaccines
SB 258 – Increasing tax credit for employers providing childcare for employees
SB 259 – Requiring Higher Education Policy Commission to create and administer PROMISE Plus Program
SB 273 – Prohibiting certain divisive acts or concepts from schools, state agencies and any groups receiving State funding
SB 278 – WV Chemical Abortion Prohibition Act
SB 279 – Requiring medical professionals to report injuries and side effects from vaccines to the Bureau for Public Health
SB 284 – Fetal Heartbeat Act
SB 292 – Hunger Free Campus Act
SB 309 – Authorizing child or childcare tax credit
SB 323 – Creating tax credit related to childcare expenses
SB 330 – Creating psychiatric residency program
SB 333 – Dissolving PEIA and converting to employer-owned mutual insurance company
SB 334 – Enabling WVSU and Bluefield State University to offer associate degrees
SB 336 – Return to WV Tax Credit Act
SB 352 – Modifying Unborn Child Protection Act
SB 357 – Permitting dental hygienist to perform tobacco cessation education
SB 361 – Promise for Promise Act
SB 367 – Anti-Racism Act of 2024
SB 373 – Providing tax credit to corporations for existing employer-provide childcare facilities
SB 393 – Related to modifying concealed carry permit
SB 412 – Amending medical exemptions to State vaccination laws
SB 443 – Oral Health and Cancer Rights Act
SB 458 – Relating to personal income tax Social Security exemption
SB 460 – Providing for child and dependent care credit against personal income tax

Legislative Calendar

Monday, January 22                       Tourism Day at the Capitol
Tuesday, January 30                      WVU and WVU Extension Day at the Capitol
Tuesday, February 13                     Last Day to Introduce Bills in the House
Friday, February 16                        Adventure Travel Day at the Capitol
Monday, February 19                    Monongalia County Day at the Capitol
Monday, February 19                    Last Day to Introduce Bills in the Senate
Thursday, February 22                  Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol
Sunday, February 25                     Bills Due Out of Committees of Origin
Wednesday, February 28               Final Day to Consider Bills on Third Reading
Thursday, February 29                  Arts Day at the Capitol
Saturday, March 9                         Last Day of Session

More Information

To learn more about the Legislature, including district maps, committee assignments, bill tracking and a summary of daily activities, please visit .
To learn more about WVU’s government relations and legislative initiatives, please visit or contact Travis Mollohan, associate vice president for government relations and collaboration, at