From The Well

January 29, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 22




House Judiciary authorizes hospitals to establish own police departments


House Judiciary had a lengthy discussion and many questions on HB 4540 which would authorize the appointment, qualifications, certification, authority, compensation, and training of hospital police officers and hospital police departments by licensed public and private hospitals. The bill permits hospital police officers to assist local law-enforcement agencies and provides for limitations on the civil liability of hospital police officers in certain circumstances. Discussion centered on private entities having their own law enforcement employees, liabilities, private entities accessing state training, and the “ripple effect” that this might have if other private entities seek law enforcement authority. One delegate who supported the bill pointed out that this is enabling legislation with no requirement that any hospital implement it, stating “I would be very careful if I were a hospital taking on this responsibility.” The bill passed with a request that the second reference to Finance Committee be waived.


HB 2164 was quickly passed in House Judiciary because the same bill has passed the House twice in previous sessions but was not taken up in the Senate.  The purpose of this bill is to clarify that appeals to the Supreme Court are a matter of right and that every party has an opportunity to be heard and to obtain a written decision on the merits of the appeal. This codifies current court policy for civil and criminal actions. This bill does not established an Intermediate Appellate Court.


The committee ran out of time before it could take up the committee substitute for SB311, which relates to court-ordered community service. It will be taken up at the next meeting.



Senate Judiciary passes fair hearing for denied unemployment compensation


B 547 passed out of Senate Judiciary with very little discussion. The bill rectifies a conflict with Federal Unemployment Compensation and Social Security Administration laws regarding claims determinations and an individual’s “opportunity for a fair hearing” for unemployment compensation claims that are denied with regard to termination due to alcohol or drugs that were present in the person’s system.


Regulation of pawn brokers was the subject of SB 511. This bill removes an exception for certain transactions from the report required of all pawnbrokers and requires all pawnbrokers to be equipped with certain surveillance equipment and signage effective January 1, 2021. It also prohibits pawnbrokers from doing business with certain persons, such as minors and intoxicated people. Pawnbrokers would be prohibited from purchasing certain items, such as those suspected to be stolen, or transacting with prepaid cards from anyone. The bill creates misdemeanor offenses for certain violations; and increases the penalties for existing criminal offenses related to pawnbrokers. Kanawha County Deputy Adam Crawford spoke in favor of the bill, stating that the surveillance would be a tool to help law enforcement be able to track down stolen property and identify the people trying to pawn it. The bill passed out of committee.


Mistakes in SB 267 are going to be corrected, so the bill was laid over.



House passes cursive writing bill
Tuesday, the House passed three education bills including HB 4089, which extends the grade level in which cursive writing is to be taught in public schools. Before this bill, schools were only required to teach cursive from second to fourth grade. This bill extends that grade level to fifth grade.


HB4365 grants college credit hours to those who learn English as a second language. State institutions of higher learning may accept English as a second language to satisfy foreign language credits if the student receives a satisfactory score on the English foreign language exam.

HB 4480 authorizes legislative rules of the Higher Education Policy Commission, repeals a rule of the Higher Education Policy Commission, and authorizes a legislative rule for the Council for Community and Technical College Education.



Senate Transportation & Infrastructure rejects changes to registration fees for hybrid vehicles


Senate Transportation & Infrastructure took up SB 495, relating to registration fees for alternative fuel vehicles, changes the additional annual registration fee for hybrid vehicles from $100 to $35. General Counsel Holley from DMV stated that this reduction will reduce the road fund by $705,000. The logic behind increasing fees for hybrid vehicles was an effort to recoup costs that are not collected at the gas pump with these vehicles. “Folks were surprised by the increase,” stated Holley. Senator Beach explained that the idea of a higher fee came out of the Blue Ribbon Commission for Highways but applied to only electric vehicles whose owners are not purchasing fuel and paying nothing into the road fund. “We didn’t intend it for hybrids,” stated Beach. Committee Counsel explained that the $100 fee remains on electric vehicles and only reduces the fee for hybrid vehicles.  The bill was rejected.


The committee also had a long discussion on SB 162 which seeks to enhance the maintenance and repair of the state’s roads and highways. To this end it: (1) Directs the State Auditor to develop and maintain a searchable website of funding actions and expenditures relating state and public roads; (2) Directs the Commissioner of Highways to provide information and data to the State Auditor; (3) Creates the Special Road Repair Fund as a sub-account of the State Road Fund and authorizes the commissioner to transfer certain funds into the sub-account for certain purposes; and (4) Creates the Enhanced Road Repair and Maintenance Program. Discussion centered around the many complaints that legislators receive about roads. Secretary of Transportation White answered questions and stated that “the measure of accomplishments is better than expenditures” and they are ahead of accomplishment goals. Due to the number of questions, the bill was laid over in order for stakeholders to meet.



House Health passes bill removing physician supervision for CRNAs


HB 4356, which removes from the law the requirement of direct physician supervision for certified registered nurse anesthetists, passed the House Health and Human Resources Committee on a voice vote Tuesday. The bill, which was single-referenced to the committee, could pass the House this week.


A CRNA who testified before the committee told members there is no difference in the care provided by a CRNA and an anesthesiologist.  He said he practices in a small, rural hospital that cannot afford a full-time anesthesiologist.



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


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

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