From The Well

February 13, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 37



House momentum grinds to a halt


In response to an incident that he says took place Tuesday evening, Republican Del. Eric Porterfield invoked a rule that requires that bills on third reading be read aloud, instead of lawmakers simply explaining their bills as usual.
The result was a drawn-out floor session in which annoyed lawmakers meandered around the chamber, leaving to go get lunch, and taking to each other as a clerk was forced to speed read the bills.


While one of the bills was read, former Delegate Mike Folk apparently insulted Del. Porterfield, which led to Porterfield calling for Folk’s floor privileges to be revoked.


WV Public Broadcasting’s Emily Allen describes what happened on today’s Legislature Today.


Inspections for cars extended to every other year


HB 4639, which changes annual mandatory state inspections of motor vehicles to every other year was taken up in the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee.


The committee deliberated the bill for for well over an hour for the second week in a row. Concerns of public safety, as well as lost of revenue for the State Police and state of West Virginia in general were expressed. There were many references to drivers and cars traveling in West Virginia from the state of Ohio


Sgt. Shawn Schoolcraft, who testified in committee, said the WVSP has taken major steps in the last several years to ensure the process is done properly, and that service stations aren’t just “slapping stickers on vehicles.”


Last week, the committee defeated an amendment removing the yearly inspection and designating an inspection only need to be performed when buying a car or being fined for an equipment failure. Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral told the committee that inspections are a waste of time. Many states don’t even do vehicle inspections any longer because cars are getting smarter and tell us when issues occur. In addition, he said most mechanics when changing tires or even changing oil look do inspections as a courtesy. The bill now heads to the House floor for passage.


House Finance advances foster care bill

In a brief meeting Wednesday evening, the House Finance Committee advanced a bill aiming to reform West Virginia’s foster care system.


The committee advanced a committee substitute for House Bill 4092, which passed Judiciary and Health and Human Resources. The committee substitute is substantively similar to the versions advanced out of the other committees


The bill would establish a foster child and foster parent bill of rights, which has been enacted in about 15 other states, raises the pay for foster parents, and establishes minimum guidelines for guardians ad litem.


Under the bill, the per diem rate for foster families was increased from $55 to $75 a day with a 40% minimum to go directly to foster families—equating to a $30 per day minimum for foster families.

The state’s share of the cost was estimated to be about $16.9 million with a majority of money to be drawn down from the federal government.

Before advancing the bill, Delegate Jeffrey Pack, R-Raleigh, thanked the committee for taking up the bill.


“This bill is the result of months and months and months of hard work,” Pack said. “I just want to thank the committee for taking this up.”



Statehouse Beat: In West Virginia, socialism is going to the dogs
From the Statehouse Beat:

A word we’ll surely be hearing a lot this election year is socialism.

It will be used as a dirty word against candidates who advocate for maintaining or expanding vital programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as safety net programs such as SNAP, commonly known as food stamps. (Funny how the benefit of something like SNAP to the grocery industry is never mentioned as part of the equation when legislators are trying to cut the benefits.)



Read Phil Kabler’s full column here

On Wednesday’s edition of Legislature Today, Senator Eric Tarr, R-Putnam and Senator Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, discussed SB285, which eliminates the $17 million subsidy for greyhound breeders.


Maroney represents the district where Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack, one of the state’s two greyhound racetracks.



Local control by counties and cities rescinded in Senate Judiciary


Committee Counsel started the committee meeting then stepped away from the podium to get some information. About 15 minutes later, he returned and continued with his explanation of SB 135.  This bill has nine components, all of which serve to preempt and prohibit political subdivisions from enacting any ordinance, regulation, local policy, local resolution or other legal requirements regulating certain areas of the employer-employee relationship and the sale or marketing of consumer merchandise. Political subdivisions include municipalities, county commissions, boards of education, city/county health departments, public service districts, volunteer fire departments, etc.


“What is the policy for preventing a city from having a training?” asked Senator Lindsay. Counsel responded that it was for uniformity.


“What is the purpose of this bill?, asked Senator Romano. “We’re tying the hands of every city council, county commission….it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.” Again, counsel responded that it creates uniformity but at the cost of flexibility.


“What is the crux of this bill?” asked Senator Hardesty, noting that most of it seems to prohibit items that political subdivisions are not doing.


A representative from the Municipal League said passage of this bill would be detrimental to local elected officials to solve problems or uphold the values of their communities. She noted that there’s not a one size fits all solution to every problem a municipality might have.


“What do you think the effect of this bill will be on home rule?” asked Senator Baldwin. The municipal representative responded that any home rule provision incongruent to this bill would be voided.


“We are usurping local control. What are we afraid of? I see a plethora of bad outcomes from this,” said Senator Romano


“This bill paints with a broad brush,” stated Senator Hardesty.


“Why did we give municipalities home rule?” queried Senator Jeffries, if we’re going to take away all local control.


Questions and discussion followed along this line of consequences, intended and unintended, about the bill. Chairman Trump relinquished the chair to further explain the bill, agreeing that if this bill passes, all political subdivisions would be precluded from the nine components listed below. The bill passed but is recommended to go to Government Organization for further review.


A political subdivision may not adopt, enforce, or administer an ordinance, regulation, local policy, local resolution, or other legal requirement regarding the following areas:

(1) Regulating information an employer or potential employer must request, require, or exclude on an application for employment from an employee or a potential employee:

(2) Requiring an employer to pay to an employee a wage higher than any applicable state or federal law;

(3) Requiring an employer to pay to an employee a wage or fringe benefit based on wage and fringe benefit rates prevailing in the locality;

(4) Regulating work stoppage or strike activity of employers and their employees or the means by which employees may organize;

(5) Requiring an employer to provide to an employee paid or unpaid leave time;

(6) Requiring an employer or its employees to participate in any educational apprenticeship or apprenticeship training program that is not required by state or federal law;

(7) Regulating hours and scheduling that an employer is required to provide to employees;

(8) Regulating standards or requirements regarding the sale or marketing of consumer merchandise that are different from, or in addition to, any state law:

(9) Regulating standards of care or conduct for any profession regulated, licensed, or certified by the State of West Virginia.



House T & I amend school zone bill

Last week and again today, House Transportation & Infrastructure grappled with HB2897, relating to driving restrictions in school zones. Delegate Boggs, D-Braxton asked for clarification as to the term “when children are present?” Is that only during school hours, on the weekends when children are on the school playground? Delegate Gary Howell R-Mineral asked for clarification as to who has control of the flashing lights. “I’ve literally seen our school lights flashing at one a.m. So what takes precedent? The flashing lights or the sign that says when children are present?”


Delegate Cody Thompson shared that in his district a little boy was hit by a car. He said, “The lights are on timers, but the principal at my school has been given a key to operate the lights manually during early dismissals or school events” A child at Thompson’s school ran out in front of a car during an evening Halloween party, was hit by a vehicle and died.


The committee agreed to amend the bill stipulating the speed limit to be 15 mph in a school zone during school, recess or while children are going to or leaving school during opening or closing hours – which is current law – but adding to the code whenever school zone flashing beacons are present and activated. The bill is now with the House Education committee.



Activity Calendar

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


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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