February 6, 2019
From The Well

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Day 29



House begins consideration of education bill


SB 451, the much-heralded, much decried  Senate Education Reform bill, arrived to a rocky reception Tuesday  in the House of Delegates. Democrat firebrand Del. Isaac Sponaugle, immediately moved to postpone indefinitely consideration of the bill, a legislative maneuver that almost never works but gives the person making the motion a chance to rail about the legislation’s inadequacies.


Sponaugle offered all the now-familiar arguments—faulty title, alleged improper consideration in the Senate, not enough input from interest groups—until Majority Leader Amy Summers moved to table Sponaugle’s motion, effectively stopping debate. Summers’ motion passed on a 52-44 roll call vote.


House Speaker Roger Hanshaw double-referenced the bill to the Committee on Education and the Committee on Finance. The Education Committee has the bill on its agenda today at 9 a.m.


Both sides got in their licks, talking about the bill at the end of Tuesday’s session, during remarks by members. Hanshaw, who was presiding, didn’t speak, but extensively talked about the bill during a Tuesday morning interview on MetroNews’ Talkline


Hanshaw would not criticize the Committee of the Whole process, noting it is there for a reason, but said the House will follow the more usual committee process.


Hanshaw said House leadership is open to debate and discussion on the bill and will not approach it differently from other bills. “Let the members do what members do,” he told Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval.



House Industry and Labor Committee


The House Committee on Industry and Labor met Tuesday to consider two pieces of legislation, one that strikes language requiring workers on state-funded construction projects to report certified payroll information to the WV Division of Labor and one that calls for a study of discrepancies in electric meter reading.


House Bill 2441 would amend current statute that requires employers working on publicly funded construction projects to submit payroll information containing their employees’ counties of residence, addresses, and the number of employees working on a given project. The bill would strike this requirement, allowing the WV Division of Labor to get needed compliance information from already conducted spot-checks.


Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, lead sponsor of the bill, argued that the passage would protect the privacy of the employees working on these sites.


Opponents of the bill, such as Shawn Fluharty, D- Ohio, argued that passage of House Bill 2441 would complicate compliance with the West Virginia Jobs Act, which ensures that public construction projects give employment preference to West Virginia citizens.


Despite heated discussion, House Bill 2441 was approved by the committee, and advanced to the House Committee on the Judiciary for second reference.


The House Committee on Industry and Labor also considered House Concurrent Resolution 25, which requests the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the discrepancy between estimates and actual readings of electrical meters. This is due to widespread state complaints regarding electrical meters. The resolution was passed unanimously with the recommendation that it be adopted but first be referenced to the House Committee on Rules.



Rescheduling bill originated in committee passed after change in spelling of marijuana


Every year, the legislature updates the list of Schedule 1 drugs. Schedule 1 drugs are drugs for which there is no accepted medical use. The bill is generally updated to reflect new “designer drugs’ found by police in drug busts.


As has been the case for the past several years, updating Schedule 1 turned into a debate when pro-cannabis advocates unsuccessfully attempted to move cannabis to Schedule 4, which contains drugs like Klonopin, Valium and Xanax. Committee Chairman Joe Ellington ruled the amendment non-germane, meaning it didn’t apply to the bill being considered.


Cannabis advocates were successful in getting approved an amendment changing the spelling from “marihuana” to “marijuana” and noting that cannabis is the proper medical term.



Senate Finance passed four bills and laid over bill related to Landfill Closure Assistance Fund


While Senate Bills 131419 and 499 were reported to the full Senate, Senate Bill 147, which would shift funding from the Landfill Closure Assistance Fund to local solid waste authorities, was laid over. The decision to lay over the bill followed Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, raising concern over whether or not the potential legislation could jeopardize existing landfill plans from counties.


Senate Bill 19, which relates to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, The purpose of the bill is to develop a Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Fund within the Department of Agriculture and asks that the state consider adding an additional $30 to the $20 in vouchers that eligible seniors received in 2010.


Senate Bill 499 provides for administration, collection and enforcement of income tax on certain partnerships and other passthrough entities treated as partnerships for federal income tax purposes, and their partners and equity owners in conformity with changes made by United States Congress.

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