From The Well

February 12, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 36



Bill eliminating financial support for W.Va. greyhound racing headed to Senate floor


The state Senate is lining up to vote on a bill that would cut financial support for greyhound racing at two West Virginia tracks.


The Senate Finance Committee voted 10-6 Monday afternoon to move the bill to the Senate floor.


Read Brad McElhinny’s story here

The West Virginia Legislature is making yet another attempt at eliminating greyhound racing in the state.


The Senate is beginning work this week on SB285, which would eliminate the subsidies paid annually to greyhound racing prize money and a fund that supports breeders.


Read Hoppy’s full commentary here


Committee passes bill requiring committee to review need for new versions of text books, expands WV Invests Grant to private institutions


HB 4729 was discussed in House Education and would require higher education institutions to use previous versions or editions of instructional materials unless the board of governors approves need for most recent version or edition. A question came up to ask if “previous” should be changed to “current,” as in continuing to use the textbook students are currently using. Travis Mollohan, Director of Government Relations for WVU, expressed concerns. He asked that the Board of Governors not be the arbiter of textbooks due to the variety of classes that WVU offers. “We don’t think the bill addresses first editions,” explained Mollohan, adding that for certain degrees such as law, engineering, and health, new information is necessary in a textbook. Another question centered on the process of textbook selection. “There is a review committee,” responded Mollohan, noting that a process is already in place to try to keep costs down for students.


Due to the number of questions, a subcommittee was appointed: Delegates Espinosa, Chair; Zukoff, Bibby, & Atkinson. The subcommittee returned to the full committee’s evening meeting with a committee substitute that changes the decision-making responsibility from the board of governors to an education resource committee. The committee substitute also prevents employees from profiting from decisions to use educational resources.


The committee substitute was adopted and the bill was advanced.


The committee advanced HB4720, which would expand last year’s Senate Bill 1, which created the West Virginia Invest Grant Program to include not-for-profit baccalaureate institutions. This would enable these institutions to partner in advanced career education program partnerships.

Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, opposed the bill, saying he felt the state should wait another year to see how Senate Bill 1 affects public institutions first.


Delegate Caleb Hanna, R-Nicholas, supported the legislation, saying he felt the bill would give rural students more options.


“For a lot of students, in order to use the two-year invest grant, they have to drive 2.5 hours away to find a school that accepts the West Virginia Invest Grants,” Hanna said.


The bill now goes before House Finance.


Libraries ask for money promised but never received
In 2018, the legislature approved a $10 million Library Building Fund so public libraries around the state could make improvements. However, the money was never put into the fund.


On Monday, the WV Library Commission used Library Appreciation Day at the Capitol to ask for the unrealized $10 million. The theme for the day was Books, Buildings and Broadband – because the money would be used to buy more books, repair buildings and strengthen technological services at libraries.

Click on the image, to watch Haley Kosik’s report on WOWKTV.



Putnam County residents to vote on medical cannabis


While the Commissions of Raleigh and Kanawha Counties have given approval for medical cannabis operations, the Putnam County Commission wants voters to decide whether the operations are welcome there.


In May, the ballot for the primary election, Putnam voters will be asked to vote on four different measures because growers, dispensaries, processors and laboratories must be approved individually.


Read the Charleston Gazette story here



5G is great until it’s sitting in your front yard

From health and human safety to aesthetics and even cybersecurity, concerns over small cell wireless facilities are leading some communities to challenge 5G deployment.


Governing Magazine featured a story about the push back against 5G deployment in some Florida communities.


Read Raymur Rachels story in The Florida Times-Union


CHIP (managed care) bill moves through Senate amendment stage


SB 641 which moved through amendment stage Tuesday without amendments, unties provider reimbursement in the West Virginia’s CHIP program from the PEIA payment schedule. (CHIP has been under the administrative umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Resources for the past several years. Prior to that, it was located in the Department of Administration, home to the Public Employees Insurance Agency, hence, the tie to PEIA reimbursement.) Like most of DHHR’s Medicaid programs, plans are to move CHIP to managed care.


The bill is at passage stage Wednesday.


Mediciad-record-on-a-card bill goes to House Finance


HB 2978, creates a pilot program within the Department of Health and Human Resources to implement smart health cards for individuals receiving Medicaid healthcare benefits. The smart health card pilot program would (1) promote interoperability of electronic medical record systems between public and private providers, and the Department; (2) increase the quality of care received by Medicaid recipients, and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse within the Medicaid program; (3) reduce unnecessary and redundant medical procedures, including diagnostic testing, and prevent prescription drug abuse by improving real-time availability of electronic medical records and reports from disparate healthcare systems; (4) reduce administrative burdens and improve payment system efficiency for health care providers accepting payments from the Medicaid program; (5) expand patient ownership of, and access to, his or her individual medical records in a personal cloud-based portal; and (6) improve security protections against identity theft and other unlawful uses of personal health information.


When this bill was considered by the House Health Committee, neither the Department of Health and Human Resources or representatives of the West Virginia Health Information Network would endorse it It envisions a pilot project of 100,000 Medicaid members with all their medical records on cards similar to credit cards. The stated effort is to reduce waste, but initial cost to the state would be about $11 million. Don’t expect it to get out of finance.


Senate Health approves bill to reimburse free clinics for adult dental services


Senate Health approved SB 229, which requires the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health to create a pilot program, by June 1, to provide reimbursement for dental care for adults at free and charitable clinics.


While free clinics currently provide dental services, they don’t receive reimbursement. This bill allows them to receive reimbursement for certain procedures performed for adults.


An accompanying bill, which was not considered, provides for Medicaid reimbursement for adult dental services. The estimated cost in state dollars is $11 million, upping the match to $66 million with federal dollars included.


The bill now goes to Finance.


Bill removes waiting period for tubal ligations


SB716 Requires the Department of Health and Human Resources to pay for tubal ligation without a 30-day wait between consent and sterilization.


Current law requires a 30-day wait between consent and performing sterilization. Physicians say this often prevents them from performing the surgery when a child is delivered.



Activity Calendar

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


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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