From The Well

January 27, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 20

Recap of Week Three



At the end of week three, the Senate had introduced 623 bills and passed 20. The House had introduced 1,097 bills and passed 28.



Bills passed in the Senate


SB 16 creates the Protect Our Right to Unite Act. The purpose of this bill is to protect the privacy of people’s membership in a public agency.

SB 42 allows county boards of education to include faith-based electives in drug and violence prevention programs in schools.

SB 125 will prohibit victims in sexual assault cases from undergoing certain physical examinations. The bill was made to protect the privacy of these individuals and the argument was made that such examinations may not be sufficient for evidence in their case.

SB 144 makes it a misdemeanor to obstruct an officer of the law during an investigation. The bill establishes a penalty for this action.

SB 191 makes aggravated cruelty to animals a felony offense. The bill clarifies the different instances of animal abuse and specifies the civil penalties.

SB 217 requires the Department of Health and Human Resources to collaborate with the Workforce Development Board and the WV Division of Personnel for job placement.

SB 225 allows municipalities to enact Adopt-A-Street programs. These programs would encourage public awareness of littering by hosting volunteer-lead cleanups of streets.

SB 297 requires the Board of Education to create a course on family and consumer sciences in schools. Such courses would encourage independence and prepare students for everyday tasks such as cooking, house cleaning, home repair, budgeting, and time management.

SB 307 corrects a citation of code relating to tax liens.

SB 311 would make state and political subdivisions immune to liability for injury to people who perform voluntary community service ordered by a municipal court or magistrate.

SB 321 clarifies conflicts in the WV Code relating to tax collection and distribution.

SB 322 will allow for services to be bought by state contractors through prequalifications with prequalified vendors.

SB 323 authorizes Department of Administration to promulgate rules relating to legislation.



Senate Judiciary sorts through bill aimed at protecting consumers during states of emergency


On Friday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee deliberated and sorted through SB 208, which protects consumers from unfair pricing practices during states of emergency. After some confusion within the committee, Chairman Charles Trump placed the bill into a subcommittee.


Leading up to the subcommittee decision, H2C’s Frank Hartman was able to explain to the committee the bill seeks to decouple West Virginia from the federal government in the event of a declared state of emergency. West Virginia’s Governor would have the ability to declare a state of emergency if warranted, but wouldn’t be forced to participate in the event the emergency didn’t affect the state. Frank used the 2008 example of then-President Barak Obama declaring a national state of emergency due to an outbreak of the H1N1 virus. That declaration froze fuel and other consumer prices which had no bearing on the outbreak.


Based on the proposed legislation, if the Governor would need to declare a state of emergency it would last for 15-days but would also have the option to extend that declaration three additional times. Also, because all emergencies aren’t created equal, in the event of a large-scale emergency the Governor would have the power to re-declare the emergency for an even longer period of time if necessary.


Chairman Trump assigned Senators Sue Cline, Charles Clements and Glen Jeffries to the subcommittee.


The passage of SB 208 would bring West Virginia in-line with our surrounding states.

·     KY has a price gouging statute. There is no Presidential trigger; price restrictions are imposed only if the governor’s declaration of emergency specifically says so; and the initial duration of price restrictions is 15 days, but the governor may extend them for up to three additional 15-day periods.

·     MD doesn’t have a price gouging statute.

·     OH doesn’t have a price gouging statute.

·     PA has a price gouging law. There is no Presidential trigger, and pricing restrictions are automatically triggered by a governor’s declaration of emergency (the declaration need no specifically say so). Pricing restrictions continue for the duration of the state of emergency (which by law can last only 90 days but may be renewed repeatedly) plus an additional 30 days.  A 2018 bill to amend the price gouging law (which would have triggered pricing restrictions only if a governor’s declaration of emergency specifically said so and would have limited the initial duration of price restrictions to 15 days, subject to renewal), passed the House and Senate by wide margin, but was then vetoed by Gov. Wolf over a political issue that really had nothing to do with the language in the bill.

·     VA has a price gouging statute. There is no Presidential trigger, and pricing restrictions are automatically triggered by a governor’s declaration of emergency (the declaration need not specifically say so). Pricing restrictions continue for 30 days but may be renewed.



Bills passed in the House


House Bill 4062 reduces the price of prescription drugs from single use manufacturers by redirecting the rebates from pharmacies directly to the insured consumer.

House Bill 2086 adopts the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act. Any requirement of state law describing or requiring that a land record document be an original, on paper, or in writing are satisfied by a document in electronic form. Any requirement for signatures on the document can be satisfied by an online signature. This authorizes county and state clerks to accept, record and store electronic documents. This bill does not provide funding towards an electronic recording system. Multiple recording systems may be put in place across the state.

House Bill 4077 increases the amount of the bond required to be posted by proprietary schools, establish methods of bonding, and require suspension of a proprietary school’s permit if there is not requisite bond coverage.

House Bill 4119 amends West Virginia Code to establish criminal penalties and defining terms for torture. Under the bill, torture is defined as the intent to cause cruel or extreme physical or mental pain and suffering, and the infliction of serious bodily injury or mental suffering upon another person within his or her custody or physical control.

House Bill 4417 permits different types of continuing education to qualify for completion of the drug diversion continuing education requirements. Under this bill, a board will develop continuing education criteria appropriate to its discipline, which will include course content, course approval, hours required and reporting periods.

House Bill 4419 requires a pharmacist to check the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database. This applies to all practitioners that prescribe or dispense Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substances.

House Bill 4058 updates the law regulating pharmacy benefit managers. This update states that a person or organization may not establish or operate as a pharmacy benefits manager in the State of West Virginia without first obtaining a license from the Insurance Commissioner pursuant to this section.

House Bill 4275 authorizes the Fire Commission to promulgate a legislative rule relating to State Building code. The Fire Commission is proposing an amendment to the State Fire Code that would update the code to reflect National Fire Protection Association standards. The updates relate to preserving life safety issues.

House Bill 4002 creates a felony 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 causes a death. Under this bill, a person convicted of this felony will be sentenced to a state correctional facility for a sentence no less than three and no more than 15 years.

House Bill 4393 creates the crimes of suffocation and asphyxiation. In this bill, the words “bodily injury,” “strangle,” “suffocate” and “asphyxiate” are defined. Any person who strangles, suffocates or asphyxiates another without that person’s consent and causes bodily injury is guilty of a felony. The punishment for this crime is a fine of no more than $2,500 or imprisonment in a state correctional facility not less than one year and not more than five years. Those guilty of this crime could also be both fined and imprisoned.



House Judiciary takes up Military Affairs & Public Safety bills

The House Judiciary Committee met Friday morning to consider bills that were recommended by the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMaps). HB 4476 provides for the timely and efficient collection, submission, testing, retention, and disposition of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases.


The bill transfers some duties of the Division of Justice and Community to the Division of Administrative Services and requires sexual assault forensic examination kits collected by health care providers to be directly submitted to the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory. There was an explanation of the forensic exam testing kits which are “boxes” provided to and available at hospitals for collection of sexual assault evidence. Currently, there is a 4 to 5 month backlog at the State Police Forensic Lab which includes the sexual assault kits; they receive about 230 kits per year. There was discussion about working with Marshall University’s Forensic Lab but no amendments were made and the bill passed.


Currently, the Division of Corrections (DOC) cannot accept an offender with an injury or apparent medical issue until a doctor has signed off, but there is no remedy if the offender refuses medical treatment.  


HB 4501 authorizes the commissioner or employee to accept in a jail, without written clearance from a licensed physician, offenders who refuse medical examination or treatment by a licensed physician and shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability that might arise from the incarceration of those individuals. The problem that this fixes was stated by the counsel for DMaps, “What does the arresting officer do with that person?”, in the event the person refuses medical treatment and the jail cannot accept without it. There was an amendment to remove the reference to immunity from criminal liability but it was rejected 6 to 12. It was noted that there are many other federal and state laws and regulations that cover instances beyond the acceptance of the offender from the arresting officer.


HB 4510 prohibiting bodily intrusion by any inmate, specifically defined as any act between persons involving penetration, however slight, of the female sex organ or of the anus of any person by any object for any purpose. The definition seemed to put an end to discussion and the bill passed quickly.



New York may legalize recreational cannabis
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has revived the prospects for legalizing recreational marijuana sales in 2020 through the state’s Legislature, but cannabis businesses are taking a tentative approach after legalization efforts failed a year ago and similar sticking points remain.
If the state approves adult-use cannabis sales, it is expected to create a multibillion-dollar recreational market as it matures, with New York City as the hub.



Read more



Coming up on Monday


The Bureau of Senior Services staff will present the agency’s budget to the House Finance Committee Monday at 5 p.m.


After taking the weekend to review SB 275, the West Virginia Appellate Review Reorganization Act of 2020, which creates an Intermediate Appellate Court, the Senate Judiciary Committee will take up the bill for discussion and debate today at 10 a.m.


House Judiciary will be discussing the HB2164, a one-page bill that states all appeals shall be afforded a full and meaningful review, an opportunity to be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, and a written decision on the merits shall be issued.




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


Mon. Jan 27

·     Pierpont and Bridge Valley CTC Day

·     WV Municipal League

·     WV Society of CPA’s Legislative Reception 5-6 p.m. at the Marriott

Tue. Jan 28

·     DEP Day

·     WV Environmental Council E-Day

·     WV Beer Wholesalers Legislative Reception 6-8 p.m. at Embassy Suites

Wed. Jan 29

·     Preston/Monongalia/Taylor County Day

·     Senate President’s Dinner

Thur. Jan 30

·     Marshall University Day

·     CORPE Breakfast Capitol Cafeteria

Fri. Jan 31

·     Agriculture and Conservation Day



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

Hartman Harman Cosco, LLC | | 800-346-5127