From The Well

January 21, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 14



Expedited natural gas permits passes House


A bill allowing for expedited oil and gas well permits upon payment of the expedited fees passed the House Monday.


HB 4091 sets up a process for expedited permitting for additional horizontal wells to be added to an existing well pad. Under this bill, one half of any residual fees would be deposited with the Oil and Gas Operations Permit and Processing Fund, and the other half of the funds would be deposited with the Oil and Gas Reclamation Fund, which is used to plug orphaned wells across the state.




Public hearing on AFCI breakers bill, HB4275 draws industry criticism



The House scheduled a public hearing on the use of Arc Fault Circuit Interruptors, or breakers, used in newly constructed homes. The bill in question is HB4275, which mandates AFCI breakers be used in bedrooms only.


The West Virginia Fire Commission previously voted to mandate AFCI breakers for all rooms of a newly constructed house. Then after some outside pressure they reconvened and changed their decision to requiring the breakers just in the bedroom.


The majority of speakers, including the Insurance Federation, Electrical Contractors and Architects all spoke in favor of safety over savings at the hearing. In other words, they

were in favor of requiring the breakers in all rooms of the house.


If you would like to learn more about AFCI breakers, this video explains them and why they are important to safety.



House Judiciary takes up voting bill, passes bill establishing new crimes and creates subcommittee on social media account being subject to warrants


Members of House Judiciary had a lengthy discussion and many questions before passing Committee Substitute for SB 94, relating to absentee voting. The bill primarily provides that voters with physical disabilities may vote by electronic absentee ballot and electronically submit an application to vote absentee. It establishes that a voter may be on the special absentee voting list while the voter has a physical disability so the voter doesn’t have to re-apply each election year.  Overseas and military voters have had this ability since 1986 under UACAVA.


Questions centered on security, potential for fraud, the system, the “App” itself, and cost to counties. The first year’s cost is covered by a philanthropic organization. (Note that it is unusual for a bill from the Senate to the House (or vice versa) to be taken up this early in the session because they are trying to get their own bills out, but this is an election bill and there is a deadline to implement by Feb.18th for the 2020 election.)


HB 4393, which adds the crimes of suffocation and asphyxiation also passed out of House Judiciary. Counsel explained prosecutors pointed out a gap that remained after strangulation was specifically made a crime a few years ago, and this bill was drafted to close that gap.


HB 2892 seeks to include digital and virtual information in the definition of property that can be searched and seized by a warrant, including, for example, social media accounts. The lead sponsor pointed out that the language needs additional work so a subcommittee was appointed: Delegates Kelly, chair; Canestraro, Steele, Miller, and Fast.


Committee Substitute for HB 4002 is a product of subcommittee deliberation to create a felony crime of negligently and with a reckless disregard of the safety of others, delivering a controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance for an illicit purpose and the use thereof causes a death. After several examples of how this bill might help close loopholes, it passed, but concerns were raised that, while well-intentioned, this bill would not be a deterrent nor result in decline of drug use.



A word about committee substitutes
In case you aren’t familiar with the process, bills change as they go through committees and when they do, the are called committee substitutes. When we do updates and link them in this newsletter, we will link to the committee substitute because that is the latest version of the bill. If you use the links below to search for bills, remember to click on the committee substitute version.



House Government Organization resumes discussion of Chapter 30 boards bill
The House Government Organization Committee, which laid over Committee Substitute for HB 4011 on Friday, resumed discussion of the bill Monday. As reported in Monday’s From the Well, the bill divides into three sections the boards and commissions governed in Chapter 30.of state code. Chapter 30 pertains to medical boards, Chapter 30A pertains to boards that require a degree and Chapter 30B pertains to board that require no degree. There were two amendments offered to the committee substitute. The first clarifies that rules for boards being divided into three different sections will remain unchanged until they expire or are amended. The second amendment moves the board of Real Estate Appraisers from Chapter 30B to Chapter 30A because members are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree. Both amendments were adopted.


House balancing pair of pharmacy benefit manager bills


Consideration of HB 4062, which requires pharmacy benefit managers to pass along any prescription savings to consumers, was postponed one day at passage stage Monday in the West Virginia House of Delegates.


Another bill, Committee Substitute for HB 4058, dealing with PBMs, will be on first reading Tuesday in the House. This bill updates language dealing with licensure of pharmacy benefit managers and requires the Insurance Commissioner to propose rules instead of allowing rules to be proposed. It establishes a fine of “not less than $1,000 and not more than $10,000 per violation” for those who don’t file for licensure.




Activity Calendar

The following organizations will have displays at the Capitol or events this week.

Tue, Jan. 21: WVU Day / Motorola

Wed, Jan. 22: Disability Advocacy Day / Disability Advocacy Rally 9:30 a.m. / Antero

Thur, Jan.23: All Kinds Welcome Here / County Commissioners Association /

WV Crime Victims Compensation Fund / Health Smart / WV Chamber Legislative Reception 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Cultural Center

Fri, Jan. 24: WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation



WV Legislature
Legislature Live


Meeting Notices
Proposed Rules


Legislative Wrap-up
Some information in this update is collected from the WV Legislature’s Daily/Weekly Blogs.



Hartman Harman Cosco, Public Policy Strategists, LLC, (H2C) is a strategically assembled bipartisan lobbying firm comprised of legal, communications and policy professionals. H2C possesses the insight and intuition that only comes from decades of hands on experience leading community and statewide initiatives.


Scott Cosco

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