From The Well

February 5, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 29



Senate Judiciary quietly passes bill that prohibits cities from limiting possession of guns and pepper spray


SB 96, the main legislative priority of the Citizens Defense League, would prohibit municipalities from limiting the rights of individuals to purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, transport, sell, or store deadly weapons or pepper spray in any manner inconsistent with or in conflict with state law. It would remove the authority of municipalities to prohibit possession of deadly weapons or pepper spray in an area where a temporary event is held (such as a public concert or fair). The bill would also restrict the award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to petitioners seeking redress under this law to only those that prevail. Senator Lindsay asked for an amendment exempting recreational centers but the amendment failed. The bill passed on a very quiet voice vote.


SB 195, which would make it easier for the administrator/executor to process the intent of the deceased. The purpose of this bill is to update the powers of a personal representative, trustee, administrator, or executor of a deceased person’s estate with respect to the disposition of conservation or preservation easements.


Committee Substitute for SB 665 passed with little discussion. It would require persons convicted of certain felonies since March 9, 1995, provide a DNA sample.


Both the Senate and the House are taking up an unusual number of each other’s bills which is not typical. Senate Judiciary took up a House bill that has been around for a few years so this may be the year it actually passes! HB 2086 creates the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act. It provides for recording of electronic documents and requires any county clerk implementing the provisions of the act to comply with established standards. It authorizes but does not require county clerks to receive, index, store, archive and transmit electronic documents. The Secretary of State would be the designated chair of the advisory committee created in the bill.


A strike & insert amendment was presented for HB 4007, creating the Born Alive Survivor’s Protection Act. It requires the same degree of medical assistance if the fetus being aborted meets the definition of “born alive.” Senator Romano asked Senate Counsel if he’d ever heard of this situation. “We couldn’t find any incidents,” responded Counsel. The bill passed on another very quiet voice vote.



Expedited gas permits on third reading Wednesday
The Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act, HB4091, will be on third reading in the Senate Wednesday. The bill allows Oil and Gas companies to pay fees for expedited permits for horizontal wells.



Legislature Today highlights issues faced by senior providers
Suzanne Higgins interviewed Bill Carpenter, president of the WV Directors of Senior & Community Services on Tuesday’s episode of WV Legislature Today. They discussed ithe escalating challenge of senior hunger and isolation in West Virginia and how the centers work to continue providing services in the face of budget shortfalls.


Click photo to watch the segment.



House Education passes Student Religious Liberties Act


On “Home Schooling Day” at the Legislature, House Education discussed at length HB 4069, adding a new article to create the West Virginia Student Religious Liberties Act. It requires that “a public school district shall not discriminate against students or parents on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression.” Portions of the law, modeled on a Mississippi law, are already in federal law but other language is more prescriptive than federal law.


The bill contains a prescribed method of selecting student speakers for school events including graduation. When a delegate asked, “Are we going to tell the high schools who can and cannot speak?”, counsel responded “Yes.”


The most frequently asked question that came up with this bill is “What problem are we trying to fix?” Counsel explained that the impetus for the bill comes from the lead sponsor’s county when students were not allowed to pray before a football game. A representative from the State Department of Education noted that the bill puts the onus on the county school boards to write and adopt a policy that is “substantially similar” to the model policy in the bill. She explained that the guidance document from the federal government does not contain a model policy nor does it require a policy to be adopted. After a couple of failed amendments to make the bill less restrictive, the bill passed with a roll call vote.



Solar power bill subject of much discussion


Lawmakers in coal-focused West Virginia spent hours Tuesday debating a bill meant to make it easier for companies to get a sliver of their power supply from solar energy.


The bill was up for debate in both the Senate’s energy committee and in the House’s energy committee.Senators discussed the bill for about an hour with no resolution, while delegates had another two hours of discussion without taking action. Delegates had already had one prior discussion of the bill.


Read Brad McElhinny’s full story here.




Senate Health and Human Resource adds fire departments to safe surrender site list


The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources unanimously passed SB 575 which allows for Fire Stations (Departments) to be added to the list of safe surrender sites. Passage of the bill will allow a parent in crisis or one who doesn’t have the means to care for a child to safely surrender that child to a fire department within 30 days of the child’s birth. The fire department must have 24-hour staffing. The legislation came about after a discussion Senator Mark Maynard, R-Wayne had with his wife. If this bill passes, West Virginia will catch up to surrounding states in allowing adequately staffed fire stations to be safe surrender sites for parents. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for passage before moving to the House of Delegates for consideration.



House Judiciary permits sale of alcoholic beverages state-wide and permits manufacturing liquor for personal use


The House Judiciary Committee met Tuesday to consider several bills, two of which deal with alcohol laws.


House Bill 4524 permits the sale of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and liquor) for off-premise consumption throughout the entire state. The bill provides an option for counties to prohibit alcohol sales if their local government chooses so. There are currently 13 dry areas in the state, including counties, towns and cities.


House Bill 4158 permits people of the legal drinking age to manufacture alcoholic liquor for personal or family use. This liquor is not allowed to be sold. Federal laws have criminal penalties for those guilty of this crime currently, where people found guilty can serve up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. This bill decriminalizes the action of home liquor production in the state of West Virginia.


An amendment offered in committee by Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, and Delegate Rodney Miller, D- Boone, changed the amount of liquored manufactured in a calendar year under this bill from 100 gallons per person in the household to 50 gallons.



Activity Calendar

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


Wed. Feb. 5

·     Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day

Thur. Feb. 6

·     Veterans Visibility Day

·     VFW Auxiliary

·     WV Aviation Day

·     WV EMS Day

Fri. Feb. 7

·     West Virginia Undergraduate Research 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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