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March 15, 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 a rundown of bills that completed the legislative process and those that failed to cross the finish line by midnight on the last day of session.

Many of the bills that passed did not reach the governor prior to the final day of session. As a result, based on the West Virginia Constitution, he has 15 days to act, or the bills become law. The exception is for the budget or supplemental items, where he must act in five days.

The Budget

The Legislature adopted a FY25 Budget which provides $3.5 million in base funding to WVU for pay raises. The budget also included $5.1 million in one-time, surplus moneys for the funding formula inflation adjustment.

Only five institutions (WVU, Marshall, Shepherd, Concord, and New River CTC) were chosen by the Legislature to receive the funding formula inflation adjustment. That was due to those five schools meeting or exceeding their performance measures by 55%, according to legislative leaders.

Last night, Gov. Justice signed the budget with objections. He removed the inflation adjustment from the surplus section of the budget, noting that the funding formula is a tool for all colleges and universities. The governor intends to call the Legislature into special session in April or May to address the budget and make further changes.

A separate bill, House Bill 5014, provides RNI with $2 million to fund an FDA pilot project to study the use of focused ultrasound on patients with PTSD and eating disorders. The measure passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

Safe Harbor for Cybersecurity Programs

House Bill 5338 creates the Safe Harbor for Cybersecurity Programs. This initiative provides an incentive for businesses to adopt, maintain and comply with written cybersecurity frameworks to protect data from breaches. If a business uses these standards, they are provided an affirmative defense against any suit. This idea was developed by Dr. Chris Ramezan in the WVU Chambers College and Honors College political science student Azeem Khan.

On March 7, the bill passed the Senate 27-6. On the last day of session, the House passed the bill 82-15. It now goes to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

Responsible Gaming Research and Industry Development Act

House Bill 5668 creates the Responsible Gaming Research and Industry Development Act. The legislation will allow WVU to analyze transactional data and metrics on all gaming activities in the state. The University will work with the State Lottery Commission on the initiative and the Chambers College, through its Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, will work with casinos and racetracks to enhance the industry and give our students an opportunity to learn skills in one of the state’s top industries.

On the final day of session, the Senate passed the bill 22-10. The House concurred and passed the bill 68-30.

Childhood Immunizations

House Bill 5105 changes the requirements for vaccines and immunizations. West Virginia has strong protections currently in place to protect school-age children. This law modifies those protections to allow students in virtual public schools to not be required to have vaccines unless they participate in extracurricular activities, like sports, with public school students. It also permits private and parochial school systems to determine whether or not to require vaccines for entry.

Chancellor and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics Dr. Charles Mullett wrote to the Legislature sharing their concerns and strong support for current West Virginia law, which protects children and families from harmful and preventable diseases, like measles.

On the final day of session, the bill passed the Senate 20-12. It went to the House and passed 70-29.

Learn and Earn

House Bill 5127, introduced by Delegate Gary Howell of Mineral County, would have permanently added WVU Potomac State College to the Learn and Earn Program. Last year, the Legislature passed legislation permitting WVU Potomac State to participate in a short-term pilot program. The measure passed the House but did not pass the Senate this year.
It passed the House 92-0. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

In God We Trust

Senate Bill 152 would have required public schools and public institutions of higher education to display the official motto of the United States, “In God We Trust,” in the main building on each campus. The measure passed the Senate. After several changes to the bill in House Education and House Judiciary, including requiring the bill to be displayed in all classrooms, the measure passed the House.

On the final day of session, the Senate altered the language yet again and sent it back to the House. The House did not concur with the changes before the midnight deadline and the bill died.

Hunger Free Campus Act

Senate Bill 292 would have created the Hunger Free Campus Act. It would enhance existing food pantries and food insecurity programs on campuses and create programs on campuses where programs don’t already exist. The measure passed the Senate 32-2 on February 19. It also passed the House Education Committee on February 28. Once it got to the House floor, however, it stalled and did not pass before the midnight deadline on March 9.

Libraries and Museums

Legislation that received significant attention from the public and the media was House Bill 4654. It would have removed protections for schools, libraries and museums from penalties for displaying obscene material to minors.
The bill passed the House 85-12 on February 16. It was sent to the Senate where the Senate Judiciary Committee did not consider the bill.
However, the House Judiciary Committee, when considering Senate Bill 741, amended in provisions from House Bill 4654. The full House never got to the bill before midnight on March 9 and the bill died.

Interim Meetings

The Legislature has announced that interim sessions will be held on the following dates:
•    April 14-16, 2024
•    May 19-21, 2024
•    August 11-13, 2024
•    September 8-10, 2024 (Parkersburg)
•    October 6-8, 2024
•    November 10-12, 2024
•    December 8-10, 2024

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