From The Well

January 11, 2020

Update from the West Virginia Capitol

Day 4



Greyhound breeding fund elimination bill introduced


On Thursday, the West Virginia Senate introduced SB 285, which eliminates the WV Greyhound Breeding Development Fund. Senate President Mitch Carmichael, along with Senators Sue Cline and Roland Roberts sponsored the bill that would end the sport of greyhound racing at two of West Virginia’s tracks/casinos, Wheeling and Cross Lanes.


Presently, state law requires the dedication of approximately $15 million of gambling revenues to underwrite greyhound breeding and help to boost purse funds.

Opponents of SB 285, including West Virginia’s northern panhandle legislative delegation, have been outspoken saying it would be a job killer with as many as 1,700 people losing their jobs. However, supporters of the bill say that number is misleading. Grey2k USA, which supports the bill, points to a 2018 report from the National Greyhound Association which states its total membership nationwide is only 1,065. Grey2K estimates 200-400 jobs, many of which are part-time positions, will be impacted by the elimination of the subsidy.


The sport of greyhound racing is nearly extinct across the United States. In November 2018, Florida voted by a 2 to 1 margin to outlaw dog racing. Also, in October, Delaware North, owners of both Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras (Cross Lanes), announced the end of greyhound racing at its Southland Park track in Arkansas.



Senate introduces 60 bills in Friday session


Senate committees did not meet on Friday, but 60 bills were introduced during the floor session, bringing the total to 310 senate bills introduced in the first week of the session.


Among those introduced is SB 248, which would repeal law that requires additional registration fees on vehicles that use alternative fuels, a topic which has been considered controversial among West Virginia drivers. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

SB257.  by Sen. Rucker, would prohibit discrimination in access to organ transplants based on physical or mental disability The bill has been referred to Health and Human Resources then Judiciary

SB 284, by President Carmichael and Sen. Cline, would create the “Health Care Continuity Act”. The purpose of this bill is to reinforce the standards of healthcare coverage plans, make sure they remain affordable, and aren’t defined by the existence of preexisting conditions The lead sponsor of the bill is President Carmichael, however, it does not appear to be the bill mentioned by the Governor in his State of the State speech. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance.

SB 303, by Sen. Rucker, would initiate the “Students’ Right to Know Act”. The bill would require the state Board of Education to collect and communicate information on career landscapes for high school students. The purpose of the bill is to make students more aware of the costs of four-year colleges as well as alternative career paths. The bill has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.



House introduces 20 bills during Friday floor session


Twenty bills were introduced in Friday’s House of Delegates floor session on Friday. bringing the total number of bills in the House to 657. That number includes the hundreds of carryover bills from last year.


HB4083.  by Del. Staggers, Evans, Toney, Ellington, Shott, Jennings, Lavender-Bowe, Atkinson, Walker, Caputo and Pack – Requiring the West Virginia Parkways Authority to accept the use of credit and debit cards for paying tolls. The bill has been referred to Technology and Infrastructure then Government Organization.

HB4091.           by Del. Anderson, J. Kelly, Porterfield, Hartman, Pethtel, Boggs, Evans, Tomblin, Phillips, Azinger and Hott – Allowing for expedited oil and gas well permitting upon payment of applicable expedited fees. The bill has been referred to Energy.

HB4093. By Del. Waxman, C. Martin, Sypolt, Phillips, Howell, Bibby, Graves, Hanna, D. Jeffries, Butler and Hardy – Eliminating the prohibition against carrying firearms on the grounds of the State Capitol Complex. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary.

HB4098. by Del. Howell, J. Jeffries, Waxman, Cadle, Bibby, D. Jeffries, Hanna, Kump, Cooper, Phillips and Barnhart – Second Amendment Sanctuary Law, which gives the state the authority to refuse to abide by any Federal law infringing the second amendment. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary.



Uncharacteristically short House Judiciary committee meeting ends with “nods”


The House Judiciary Committee, known for lengthy meetings, probably set a record on Friday with what was about a 10-minute meeting.


The bill up for discussion was HB4006, creating the Civil Liability for Employers Hiring Ex-Offenders Act. The purpose of the bill is to help those with criminal records gain employment by limiting civil liability for employers hiring an employee or independent contractor who has been convicted of a nonviolent, nonsexual offense; to preclude admission of evidence in certain circumstances; and to identify civil actions where these protections do not apply.


The bill had been discussed the previous day but there was a lot of disagreement. After asking for a “nod of heads” to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the bill, Chairman Shott appointed a subcommittee: Delegates Foster (chair), Fluharty, Brown, Waxman, and Byrd. The committee then adjourned and the Chairman noted they could “go take a nap” since they had over an hour of unexpected free time!



First round of foster care bills introduced


The first round of bills relating to foster care have been introduced in the House and Senate. As Taylor Stuck of the Herald-Dispatch reported this week, “The four bills work together and address the adoption process, flesh out the new ombudsman duties, update foster care laws and make changes to Child Protective Services.” Stuck’s story can be found at this link (subscription may be required.) The bills include:


HB4092 and SB302 establish a bill of rights for both foster children and parents.

HB4094 and SB301 establish additional duties of the Foster Care Ombudsman and investigation responsibilities of the Foster Care Ombudsman Program.



West Virginia lawmakers tasked with defining the term milk?


Of the nearly 1,000 bills potentially under consideration, legislators may face the task of defining the term milk. HB4095 asks lawmakers to define the term “milk” and limit its use to products that meet the definition



Things to note from the first week


·     House Judiciary took up and passed out Committee Substitute for HB 2008, providing that when no candidate for Supreme Court Justice received at least 40% of the total votes cast for that office, then a runoff election is to be held concurrent in the general election. In the last Supreme Court election, 20 candidates ran for two open seats. The two winners won with just 26% and 36 % of the vote. The bill now goes to House Finance.


·     Both House & Senate leadership have expressed interest in reducing the number of licensure requirements, licensing boards, and other requirements for various occupations. SB 218, which creates the Occupational Licensing Consumer Choice Act, would allow people to work for employers or consumers without first obtaining a professional license. It is likely to be a lively topic for this legislative session.


·     The House of Delegates “carries over” their bills that did not pass from the previous year. This year’s bills begin with 4001 so any bill below that number is a “carry-over.”



Activity Calendar
The following organizations will have displays at the Capitol or events the week of Jan. 13.


Mon, Jan. 13: West Virginians for Health Freedom

Tue, Jan. 14: Mountaineer Food Bank / WV Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Wed, Jan. 15: Tourism Day / WV Travel and Hospitality Association Legislative Reception

Thur, Jan. 16: WV Aviation Day at the Legislature / WV Auto Show VIP Charity Gala 6-8 p.m. (By Invitation Only)

Fri, Jan. 17: Regional Family Resource Network / U. S. Term Limits



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

Hartman Harman Cosco, LLC | | 800-346-5127