January 26, 2019
From The Well

Saturday, January 26, 2019


Day 18 (Wrap up for Week 3)



Legislative Wrap-up for the week of January 21


House Judiciary approves moving foster care to MCO
While most legislation tweaks policy around its edges, the passage of this bill could substantially change how services are provided to West Virginia children.


The House Judiciary Committee passed on a 13-11 vote, HB 2010, legislation moving the state’s foster care system into managed care. The Department of Health and Human Resources, in which the state’s child foster agency, the Bureau for Children and Families, is located, is walking a narrow line on this legislation.


DHHR does not need legislation to transition foster care to a managed care organization. It has been aggressively doing so since floating the idea last year during an interim committee meeting.


DHHR’s point man on the legislation, Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples, is always careful to point out it isn’t a department-requested bill; that’s code for giving DHHR the opportunity at anytime to back away from the bill or any of its contents.


The annual foster care managed care price tag is estimated between $230 and $350 million, although Samples is always cagey with his financial projections. Some predict the price will go higher.


About 10 percent of the total cost will go toward administrative costs and profits. Managed care naysayers argue the direct infusion of these funds into the program would go a long way towards solving the state’s foster care problems. Veteran bureaucrats (in the good way), say the state’s creaky infrastructure and restrictive personnel policies couldn’t handle the flood of cash to adequately create an effective system.

Suzanne Higgins, of WV Public Broadcasting and Brad McIlhinny, West Virginia Metro News discuss H.B. 2010 during the Legislature Today.




July 01 is the statutory implementation date for managed care; that’s 157 days away, counting weekends and holidays The DHHR plan is to award the contract to a single company. Samples said the four MCOs doing business with Medicaid as well as at least two other national companies have expressed interest in bidding on the project. A complicated bid review and the almost-always-to-be-expected protest probably derails any hope of a July 01 implementation date.

Adding judicial intrigue to the process is the specter of a possible federal lawsuit surrounding the state’s child welfare system. Both Samples and DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch have alluded to such a suit in public meetings during the last several months. Neither has explained it more or been asked to do so.


The bill will probably be approved by the House next week and go to the Senate, where its future is uncertain.


DHHR needs help with foster care


“DHHR officials are trying to assure the critics that their agency and judges who are overseeing the child welfare cases will continue to have final say. Additionally, a private company with expertise in child welfare can provide badly needed efficiencies.”



Senate Education passes omnibus, teacher-pay-raise-charter-school bill


The Senate Education Committee on Friday afternoon continued to hear testimony surrounding the ominous omnibus education bill. New-this-session Education Chairman Patricia Rucker, who has impressed doubters with her adroit handling of the committee, announced early Friday deliberations may continue into the weekend. However, the committee wrapped-up debate of the bill around 7:00 pm.


The bill includes, language regarding charter schools, teacher pay raises and math-teacher-bonuses. Emily Schultz, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, testified for at least two hours Friday answering questions from Senators as to how Charter Schools would be implemented in West Virginia The bill bounces next week to the Finance Committee, where costs will be incorporated into the legislative mix.


The bill will probably pass the Senate sometime next week. It is one of Senate President Mitch Carmichael’s legislative priorities. He told MetroNews prior to the session not supporting charter schools is a vote for the status quo and said he is 100 percent behind the charter schools effort.


West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who proudly touts his volunteer job as a high school basketball coach, opposes charter schools and called on legislators during his state-of-the-state speech to “make education our centerpiece.”



No prosecutorial powers for AG


In a rare move, the House of Delegates defeated Committee Substitute for H. B. 2435 – Authorizing Attorney General to prosecute violations of state criminal law recommended by the Commission on Special Investigations. (By the times most bills get to the floor, they have cleared the committee system and are set for passage.)


West Virginia’s attorney general does not have prosecutorial powers. This bill would have allowed the AG to prosecute a criminal matter after it had been refused for prosecution by a county prosecutor and the Prosecutor’s Institute.


Attorneys general over the decades—Democrat and Republican—have sought and been refused prosecutorial powers, mostly because the legislators who could vote to grant that prosecutorial power felt this type of legislation would give the Attorney General too much authority.


Senate Activity

As of Friday, 439 bills have been introduced to the senate. Of those, 22 have passed and have been sent on to the House for further consideration.

SB 1: This bill would require the establishment of Advanced Career Education (ACE) programs and creates the WV Invests Grant Program, both of which are for the purpose of increasing access to career education and workforce training.

SB 3: The bill would establish the WV Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act. The bill would establish a process for wireless providers to access public rights-of-way:

·    Cities may implement design guidance to compensate for historical areas and deal with problems such as unsightliness.

·    These guidelines may not be discriminatory and must be reasonable.

·    Sets right-of-way access annual rent per pole at $25.00

·    Establishes a permitting process to be implemented by a municipality;

·    Establishes attachment procedures for utility poles;

·    Sets the annual rent at $30.00 per;

·    Establishes application fees of $200 each for the first 5 poles, then $100 each thereafter;

·    Every five years the fee may be adjusted upwards by 10% rounded to the nearest 5 dollars.

SB 17: Current law requires that persons convicted of certain listed sexual offenses must undergo “physical, mental and psychiatric” examinations to be eligible for consideration for probation. This bill would allow a psychological exam in lieu of a psychiatric exam.

SB 18: This bill would remove the requirement that a person must have a valid concealed handgun license to lawfully keep a firearm in their vehicle on the Capitol grounds. The Committee Substitute states that a person who may otherwise lawfully possess a firearm may keep a firearm in his or her vehicle if locked and out of view.

SB 61: This bill would add to the current listed offenses for which interception of communications (commonly referred to as “wiretapping”) may be authorized by a Court. The offenses being added would be first and second degree murder, first degree robbery, treason and participation in an organized criminal enterprise.

SB 62: The bill would require participation in drug court program before discharge of certain first-time drug offenses. People charged with simple possession of an opioid or opiate controlled substances would be required to undergo evaluation for enrollment in a drug court program or drug treatment program. If one successfully completes the drug court or drug treatment, the charges could be expunged.

SB 152: The bill would authorize the judicial expungement of certain misdemeanors and non-violent felonies from a person’s criminal record. The bill would allow a person to petition for expungement for the allowable misdemeanors one year after completion of incarceration or any period of supervision, whichever is later. A petition to expunge a felony may be filed three years after incarceration or the end of supervision, whichever is later.

>SB 191: This statute would authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to modify §61 CSR 1 et seq. relating animal disease control. This rule would add new definitions to “feral swine” and “immediate slaughter.” It would also add a rule prohibiting the transportation of feral swine.

SB 223: The bill includes eight bills relating to Bureau of Commerce The proposed bills include:

·    SB 223

·    SB 224

·    SB 225

·    SB 226

·    SB 227

·    SB 228

·    SB 229

·    SB 230

SB 240: The bill would repeal certain legislative codes that are obsolete or are no longer authorized. The codes that would be repealed would have no impact to citizens of the state.

SB 253: The bill would end the practice of ongoing charging of consumer credit or debit cards or third-party payment accounts without the consumer’s express consent for ongoing shipments of a product or ongoing deliveries of services. The bill would require that businesses provide clear and conspicuous disclosures relating to automatic renewal offers or continuous service offers.

SB 255: This bill would reconstitute the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council to include three more members, which include “three persons from the general public who are voting members.” The bill would also re-format some provisions and clarifies the appointment of other members. This bill passed last session but was vetoed by the Governor.

SB354: This is a supplemental appropriation requested by the State Auditor’s Office. The supplemental would expire $1.5 million dollars from the Auditor’s Offices’ Securities Regulation fund and appropriate them to the Auditor’s Office Chief Inspector’s Fund.


House Activity

There have been 677 bills introduced in the House of Delegates. Of those bills, twenty-four have been passed by the House and advanced to the Senate for further consideration. Noteworthy Bills that passed the House This Week:

House Bill 2190 would modify bail requirements. This would allow for the release of people with certain misdemeanors, providing that they appear in court on their allotted date. This bill also passed the House last session.

House Bill 2311 would stop requiring full year reportage of short term merchant licensees. Currently, statute requires that those who receive a short term license for selling goods temporarily within the state have to report those taxes throughout the entire year. This bill would only require them to report those expenses until the fees are paid off.

House Bill 2362 would place language that allows counties to adopt a policy which allows any qualified voter to vote by emergency absentee ballot who is confined to a specific location within the county on or after the seventh day preceding an election and prevented from travelling to a polling place and voting in person because of; illness, injury, physical disability or immobility to extreme advanced age.

House Bill 2193 would revert savings bonds that have been completely unclaimed for five or more years back into the hands of the state. This bill is an attempt to provide a purpose for the thousands of unclaimed savings bonds currently in the possession of the state.

House Bill 2095 would take measures to further assess a public West Virginian K-12 student’s college readiness in 11th and 12th grade. This would allow a progress report to be administered to 12th graders to assess their readiness, but eliminates the requirement that a student placed in transitional education programs as a high school senior must re-take a college readiness assessment if the student has already taken the examination or assessment in their 11th grade year.

House Bill 2423 would prevent certain convicted sex offenders from taking on a supervisory position in an organization largely involving children. State organizations such as 4-H camps, religious organizations, and many other extracurricular or curricular programs would no longer be permitted to staff those convicted of certain sex crimes if this bill passes.

House Bill 2009 is an education bill that would create a specialized program underneath the Innovation and Education Grant Program that would recognize state schools that meet or exceed certain benchmarks as “mastery” schools. This would thereby increase a school’s merit.

House Bill 2446 is a bill that would establish a Blue Alert Plan which would aid in locating a law-enforcement officer who has disappeared in the line of duty or locating dangerous suspects.

House Bill 2527 would specify that the prison time for lottery forgery crimes must be one to five years.


Bills to be considered in the House

House Bill 2005 is known as the Broadband Expansion Act. The bill provides for a feasibility study for electric utilities to run middle mile dark fiber along their distribution routes, and specifies that the WVPSC has regulatory authority over pole attachments. In addition, it sets forth a process for wireless providers to install small wireless facilities along municipal rights of way.

House Bill 2532 is a bill that would allow West Virginia citizens to make $3, $5, or $10 donations to the West Virginia 4-H Foundation, the West Virginia Farm Bureau Foundation, and/or the West Virginia Future Farmers of America Educational Foundation when they renew their driver’s licenses.

House Bill 2195 would create a sentencing commission within the state of West Virginia. This bill would legislate the creation of an executive subcommittee under the West Virginia governor’s committee on crime, delinquency, and correction that would research, collect, and provide oversight regarding sentencing practices in the state. Multiple state agency executives would serve on this board.

House Bill 2423 would prohibit sex offenders from being in a supervisory position over children within the state. This would limit individuals on the sex offender registry from taking any administrative or supervision-based role in activities and organizations for kids such as religious organizations, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4 H clubs, sporting and scholastic teams, and various camp organizations.

House Bill 2070 would allow people in the state of West Virginia to operate a motorcycle without a helmet providing that they’ve held a motorcycle license for at least two years and are 21 or older.

House Bill 2008 aims to amend the process in which the nonpartisan elections of WV Supreme Court of Appeals Justices are carried out. This bill would provide that if any candidate were to not receive the majority of votes in an election, a run-off election would be conducted within the next 30 days.

House Bill 2011 would create a program in the state known as the Road Maintenance Program that would allow for a program in every district of the state to contract out with private contractors in order to perform road maintenance within that district. The WV Division of Highways and Legislative Auditor would oversee the efficacy of this bill if it were to pass.

House Bill 2012 aims to increase transparency efforts when it comes to road work conducted within the state. This bill would mandate the creation of a free website that the West Virginia public could access in order to get information on road work being conducted in their areas, and how much those projects cost. This bill requires the State Auditor to develop and maintain this website.

House Bill 2565 would require oil and gas producers and/or those entities severing oil and gas from West Virginia land to pay a user fee for the use of secondary roads. A pro-rated amount of those fees would be redistributed to the counties whose secondary roads are being used.

House Bill 2540 relates to prohibiting the waste of game animals, game birds, or game fish. This bill would make it unlawful for any person to cause through carelessness, neglect, or otherwise to let any edible portion of any big game or game fish to go to waste needlessly. This would also make it unlawful for any person to take any big game and only take the head, hide, antlers, tusks, paws, claws, gallbladder, teeth, beards, or spurs and leave the rest of the carcass to waste. Any person in violation of this law would be guilty of a misdemeanor and a fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,500, or confinement in jail not less than 10 days or more than 100 days. And a suspension of hunting and fishing license for five years.

House Bill 2360 The purpose of this bill is to place the Athletic Commission, after June 30, 2019, entirely under the control of the Lottery Commission. Currently, the Athletic Commission is located on the premises of the Lottery Commission, and Lottery provides the Commission with necessary administrative support and management.

House Bill 2547 is related to election prohibition zones. This bill has an amendment that would change the election prohibition zone from 300 feet to 100 feet.

House Bill 2600 amends state code relating to publication of sample ballots. Currently, counties do not interpret the current statures in place so there is no uniform understanding. This bill would help clarify this for the counties.

House Bill 2602 describes the inclusion possession of known stolen property in the offense of receiving or transferring stolen property. This would add the language “possession” and would allow the same charges for theft to be applied to those who own property and know it is stolen.

House Bill 2407 was first on the agenda, a bill to modernize the Nursing Practice Act. This bill would require that registered professional nurses in the state cannot practice without a license. Additionally, the bill also renames the board that oversees registered nurses, details the requirements for the composition of that board, and establishes permit and license requirements.

House Bill 2492 was also advanced to the House Floor without much discussion. This bill would revise the communication mechanism in which abuse and neglect cases could be reported within the state. It would allow the WV Department of Health and Human Resources to explore other methods of reportage that victims could access, such as an electronic portal.

House Bill 2524 would permit a West Virginia license pharmacist to move prescriptions for maintenance drugs that are for thirty days to be 60 or 90-day prescriptions when needed. In order for a pharmacist to do this, a list of criteria must be met for both the patient and the drug being administered. This would mostly apply to medications such as birth control, which are taken by a patient over a long term period.

House Bill 2525 would permit licensed pharmacists to administer tobacco cessation therapy drugs to people over the age of 18 in the state of West Virginia without having to have a prescription. This bill was voted to advance to the House Floor with recommendation that it should pass.

House Bill 2531 would permit advanced nurse practitioners with a specialization in psychology to perform assisted therapy with the proper training. This would allow for more staffing opportunities for struggling state mental health facilities, which struggle to employ mental health experts. This bill was advanced to the floor with the recommendation that it should pass.

House Bill 2530 would create a voluntary certification for state recovery residencies, if they choose to become a part of the certification process. The DHHR would have discretion over how they facilitate accreditation, and how they evaluate the practice of the certified residencies. The bill has no force of law, and is completely voluntary.

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