From The Well

February 10, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 34



At the conclusion of week five, 737 bills have been introduced in the Senate, and 70 have passed. Feb. 17 is the last day to introduce bills in the Senate. As of Friday afternoon, 1,314 bills have been introduced in the House, and 89 have passed, Tomorrow is the last day for members of the House to introduce bills.



Fuel excise tax exemptions pass House Finance
HB 4113 “Relating to motor fuel excise taxes,” passed the House Finance committee on Friday. This bill addresses two exemption issues in state code. First, it will entitle fuel delivery trucks with a power take-off unit to the refundable exemption list that includes cement mixers and garbage trucks. Second, it allows specific entities including fuel retailers and bulk plant distributors a refundable exemption due to a loss of fuel through casualty or evaporation.  It will now be reported to the full house with a recommendation to pass. If and when that occurs, it will move to the Senate for consideration.


Debit or credit? House passes toll booth bill


During the Friday House floor session, HB4083, which allows toll roads to accept credit card payments passed.


House Bill 4083 requires the West Virginia Parkways Authority to accept debit and credit card for the payment of tolls. The toll would be slightly increased for debit and credit card users to cover the fees from card companies. These updates must be implemented and completed by July 1, 2022.


In addition, the House advanced eight bills to third reading. Those include HB4003, which establishes standards, regulations and insurance requirements for telehealth practice. Sponsors say this bill deals only with insurance coverage and not directly with the practice of medicine. Representatives from professional organizations are watching the bill closely  to ensure it does not impact health care.


Also advanced was HB4661, which addresses the powers of the Public Service Commission in regard to natural gas regulation.


Finally, five senate bills that were on third reading were moved to the inactive calendar. They include:

Com. Sub. for S. B. 46 – Defining “pepper spray” and exempting from definition of “deadly weapons”

Com. Sub. for S. B. 470 –  Relating to use of crossbow to hunt

Com. Sub. for S. B. 487 –  Providing exception that all DNR payments be deposited within 24 hours

Com. Sub. for S. B. 500 –  Relating to Class Y special crossbow hunting permit

Com. Sub. for S. B. 501 –  Adding protection, operation of North Bend Rail Trail, Greenbrier River Trail, and Elk River Trail to Parks and Recreation Section of DNR



Intermediate court, municipal limitations bills on third reading in Senate Monday


Among the 14 bills on third reading in the Senate are:

Eng. Com. Sub. for Com. Sub. for SB 96: Prohibiting municipalities from limiting persons’ rights to possess certain weapons

Eng. Com. Sub. for SB 195: Updating powers of personal representatives of deceased person’s estate

Eng. Com. Sub. for Com. Sub. for SB 275: Creating Intermediate Court of Appeals

Eng. Com. Sub. for SB 576: Relating to management of public records

Eng. Com. Sub. for SB 665: Requiring persons convicted of certain crimes on or after March 8, 1995, provide DNA samples

Eng. Com. Sub. for HB 2086: Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act

Eng. HB 4007: Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act




“Insulin a medical necessity… no different than water or electricity”


“It does seem rather ironic that on insulin day we have a bunch of donuts here,” said Chairman Shott when opening the meeting of House Judiciary with only one bill on the agenda, an insulin bill.


HB 4543 adds a new article relating to insurance coverage for diabetics. In an unusual meeting order, Chairman Shott asked for expert testimony prior to the counsel’s explanation of the bill. PEIA Director Ted Cheatham provided information at length to help the committee understand the enigma wrapped in a riddle that is drug pricing. He explained that the manufacturer sets the drug price and we are one of only two countries that allows this. The price is generally based on what the market will bear and not what the drug costs to make.  He gave hypothetical examples of generic pricing, brand drug pricing, and the specialty or “high end” drug pricing. PEIA works with a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) to negotiate maximum allowable pricing on behalf of PEIA and this can change daily. “It’s terrible,” said Cheatham. For a brand drug, the manufacturer can set the price regardless of what it costs to make. Brand drug prices can also change daily.  Rebates are used to negotiate costs with the PBM, and Cheatham once again opined that “rebates are terrible.” The specialty (high end) drug pricing is “a game that won’t stop giving,” Cheatham pointed to a Hep-C drug that is priced at $64,000 as an example.


The purpose of the bill is to lock-in a $25 co-pay for insulin. Asked if the bill would accomplish that purpose, Cheatham responded, “If you need insulin, it will be $25 in all categories it comes in.” PEIA is in the process of preparing a fiscal note for the bill and Cheatham reminded them that the ultimate cost is born by two parties – the insurer and the member.  There are only two major brands of insulin and manufacturers can make a slight change and extend the patent, keeping it from being available as a generic. “We are addressing a problem that Congress won’t address,” noted Cheatham.  He also offered his personal opinion, “This (insulin) is a medical necessity. It is no different than water and electricity. We need to regulate this like a utility.”


At least 15% of PEIA members are diabetic and probably that many or more are undiagnosed, according to Cheatham.


Deputy Insurance Commissioner Hunter discussed commercial insurance in WV, noting that it’s a very small market here. Referring to a pie chart she carries with her, she pointed out that there are only 197,000 people in WV covered by private health insurance. Medicaid covers about 500,000; Medicare accounts for 387,000; about 145,000 are uninsured; CHIP covers 33,000; and ERISA plans account for 306,000. The Insurance Commission regulates only the private insurance. “The bill will have the most effect for people with private insurance,” Hunter said. A pharmacist and pharmacy district manager for Walgreen told the committee that the bill will be a net neutral for pharmacies and will provide the benefit of improving access to health care.


Counsel then explained the bill, which came from recommendations from the Coalition for Diabetic Management that was created in 2017. Under the bill as introduced, all insurers including PEIA are to provide coverage for insulin at a cost not to exceed $25 for a 30 day supply. There was a total of eight amendments proposed and adopted. Chairman Shott relinquished his chair to the vice-chair so he could speak to amendments which included clean-up of language, an appeals process, and a requirement to cover at least one insulin in seven specified categories. The bill passed as amended. Delegate Fleischauer, lead sponsor, thanked the committee for the amount of time spent on this one bill, noting that people are spending enormous amounts of money above & beyond their insurance premiums. Chairman Shott closed the meeting by stating, “Very few bills that we deal with have life or death consequences, but this one does.”



Politicians accused of blocking critics
The West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union accused the state attorney general of blocking critics on social media in violation of the First Amendment.


The state chapter said in a news release it sent notices Wednesday to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and eight others along with the Parkersburg Police Department.

“It’s unacceptable for public officials to deny their constituents access because of a differing viewpoint,” ACLU West Virginia legal director Loree Stark said in the statement. “And it is just as unconstitutional to bar a constituent from engaging on an official social media account because they disagree with you as it is to ban someone from a town hall event.”


Read Gazette story here



Activity Calendar

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


Mon. Feb. 10

Library Day at the Legislature


Tue. Feb. 11

WV Agriculture and Forestry Day

WV Parks Day


Wed. Feb. 12

WV Food and Farm Coalition

Deaf Awareness Day

WV Council of Churches “Compassion Calls Us”


Thur. Feb. 13

WV Hospital Association

WV Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics “Tiny Hearts Day”

WV Athletic Trainers Association


Fri. Feb. 14

West Virginia Rural Health 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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