From The Well

February 24, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 48



We are heading into the last two weeks of the session. A total of 1,513 bills were introduced in the House and 842 were introduced in the Senate. The House has passed 160 bills, which are now before the Senate. The Senate has passed and advanced 153 to the House.


Yesterday was the last day for bills to be reported from their committees of origin to ensure they have three days to be read on the chamber floor by crossover day. The House has already begun having two floor sessions a day, and the Senate likely will begin split sessions also.


To ensure bills get through, each chamber has the option of suspending the rules to allow them to be read. In fact, the Senate employed that option several times last week on bills that were unanimously supported.



Telehealth pilot bill moves from committee

Committee Substitute for SB 710 establishes a PEIA pilot program allowing telehealth services using audio only technology, a move generally opposed by the West Virginia Board of Medicine.


It requires referral to a collaborating physician and limits telehealth consultations to three each year. The pilot program must be evaluated by one of the state’s medical schools.


The bill passed out of Senate Health and is on first reading today.


Bills affecting hospitals on first reading in Senate


Bill allows hospitals to hire law enforcement officers

Committee Substitute for SB 797 allows hospitals to hire police that have, on hospital property, the same powers as other police officers, including the ability to carry a gun. The hospital-based police officers can assist city and county police departments in certain instances, when requested.


Bill eliminates special payment rates for state hospitals

Committee Substitute for SB 830 eliminates statutory language allowing the Department of Health and Human Resources to “develop a special merit-based system, including an application and appointment procedure for physicians, physician specialists, nurses, nursing directors, health service workers, health service assistants, and other employees who assist in the direct provision of medical care to patients at state-operated acute care, long-term care, psychiatric care, clinical, and medical facilities.” The law provided the special pay rates “shall be put into effect no sooner than Jan. 1, 2020, and no later than July 1, 2020.”


Cannabis bill moving through Senate

Committee Substitute for SB 752 revamps the state’s medical marijuana law, adding back local health departments into the application mix. It adds ulcerative colitis and opioid addiction to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical cannabis. The committee substitute was not available Friday.


The bill is on first reading today.



Bills that completed legislation last week


The following bills completed legislation last week – meaning they have passed both houses and next go to the Governor for consideration.


SB 310 updates the terminology of certain terms used in the WV Personal Income Tax Act.


SB 544 allows pharmacists and pharmacy interns to distribute immunizations. The Senate concurred with the House’s amendments, completing legislation for this bill.


SB 560 allows certain medical professionals to administer medication in nursing homes under the supervision of a registered nurse. The House proposed a technical amendment, which was amended and passed by the Senate.


SB 620 authorizes the Commissioner of the Division of corrections and Rehabilitation to approve home plans for inmates and to establish requirements for the program.


HB 2497 clarifies the protections given to an individual under the Whistle-Blower Law The bill provides that an employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against an employee who reports illegal activity or corruption within the workplace.


HB 4007 requires a physician to perform life-saving measures on a child born alive during an abortion.


HB 4166 prohibits sex offenders convicted of sexually violent offenses from having a supervisory position over children. This also applies to a person required to be on supervised release between the sentencing term of 10 years to life

HB 4179 enacts the Recognition of Emergency Services Personnel Licensure Compact.


HB 4353 creates a rational nexus requirement between previous criminal conduct and decision making for initial licensure. The bill’s purpose is to remove obstacles for employment for persons with criminal records seeking licenses and certifications for certain careers governed by state laws.


HB 4381 extends the time for adopted children to get a lifetime hunting, fishing and trapping license.


HB 4470 clarifies that adults who commit a criminal offense while in juvenile custody can- not be held within the sight or sound of other inmates.


HB 4476 provides that the efficient collection, submission, testing and disposition of evidence in sexual assault cases be done in a timely manner. The bill requires sexual assault forensic examination kits to be directly submitted to the State Police Forensic Laboratory.


HB 4515 deals with wildlife resources and eligibility for license or permit application, requiring an eligibility statement for permit applications. The bill also clarifies false statements on permit applications as unlawful.


HB 4601 allows members of a police or fire municipal pension plans participating in a DROP to be considered active members in order to determine the distribution of premium tax proceeds.



County commissions express concerns, opposition to Senate tax bills


The Cabell County and Kanawha County Commissions both went public with their concerns over the legislative proposal that would phase out a number of personal property taxes West Virginians pay annually, potentially eliminating more than $300 million in funding to local governments statewide.


According to data released by Cabell County officials, a loss of up to $28 million is anticipated should Senate Joint Resolution 9 and SB837 pass. According to the Kanawha Assessor’s Office, $22.7 million of the county’s $44 million of property tax revenue would be cut and municipalities in the county would lose a combined $9.5 million.


Both the resolution and the bill advanced Friday and are up for passage stage today.

Currently, the taxes go directly to counties, school systems and municipalities, and although the resolution contains a promise to make counties “whole” by the state for the lost revenue, Cabell County officials questioned the protections.


The legislation could eliminate up to $28 million of the $84 million in property tax revenue that funds local county services — including funding to the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, municipal police departments, fire service, public transportation, the health department and other county services, according to data released by the Cabell County Commission in a news release Saturday.


Read the Herald-Dispatch story about the Cabell County Commission here.

Read the Charleston Gazette-Mail story about the Kanawha County Commission here.



Emergency communications when nothing else works

Firefighters face an array of obstacles as they relay information in inhospitable situations. But a high-tech vest made from carbon atoms called graphene may be the answer to a serious voice and data transmission problem.


The job of the firefighter is hazardous. In 2018 (the latest year figures are available), 82 firefighters died in the line of duty, of which 51 percent occurred during an emergency, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Good communications is a key element to keeping injuries and fatalities as low as possible.


First responders entering a dangerous or contaminated area, referred to as the hot zone, need to be in contact with their colleagues in the cold zone, the area used for staging and directing rescue efforts. Relying on cell service is not always an option. Underground, inhospitable and remote locations can make cell and radio communication difficult, if not impossible.


Read article in here



Bills that passed each chamber last week


House Legislation


SB 560 permits nursing homes to use trained individuals to administer medication


SB 620 authorizes the Division of Corrections to approve home plans for inmates.


SB 209 updates code that deals with annexation through minor boundary adjustment


SB 339 authorizes the Department of Health and Human resources to promulgate legislative rules. This includes rules relating to the state medical cannabis program.


SB573 supplements, amends and increases appropriations of public moneys for claims against state.


SB 623 allows a noncitizen of the United States eligible for a certificate to teach if he or she holds a valid Employment Authorization Document or work permit, issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.


HB 4001 creates the West Virginia Impact Fund, its Investment Committee and the Mountaineer Impact Office to further economic development, infrastructure development and job creation in the State of West Virginia through investment of the assets of the fund.


HB 2775 requires high school students to take a one credit financial literacy course in order to graduate. This bill does not take away from any previous graduation requirements set forth by the Board of Education.


HB 4165 establishes the West Virginia Remembers Program. The bill authorizes the State Board of Education to maintain lists by county boards of veteran volunteers to speak in the public schools.


HB 4519 establishes a summer youth intern pilot program within Department of Commerce. The goal of this bill is to give students the opportunity to gain workplace experience while exploring interests for future careers.


HB 4621 creates the West Virginia FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, which enables a participant to obtain limited access to West Virginia’s financial services market to test innovative financial products or services prior to obtaining full state licensure or other authorization that otherwise may be required.


HB 4633 expands county commissions’ ability to dispose of county or district property to a nonprofit community or senior center organization without conducting a public sale.


HB 4729 requires 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.


HB 2028 prohibits the state from requiring a public service district to have a state engineer on site during the entire construction period of projects on state rights-of-way


HB 4450 extends the expiration time for instruction permits issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles to persons who have reached the age of 18 years from 90 days to six months.


HB 4504 changes the application requirement for individuals with a permanent disability who must renew expired special registration plates and removable windshield placards.


HB 4543 aims to reduce the skyrocketing costs of insulin by capping the cost of a 30-day supply of insulin at $25 with insurance.


HB 4773 establish a workgroup study to develop statewide standards for adverse childhood trauma assessment protocols.


HB 4734 changes several parts of code that relate to registered professional nurses. Among many other changes, it renames The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses to the West Virginia Board of Registered Nurses.


HB 4015 seeks to address economic development by permitting the existing insurance fund to insure additional broadband internet service. The bill also enacts the Vertical Real Estate Management and Availability Act, which defines the term and establishes how vertical real estate is to be managed.


HB 4422 prohibits anyone from attempting to derive a profit or personal gain from referring patients to a healthcare provider or facility. The bill establishes criminal penalties for any individual or business that engages in unlawful patient brokering.


HB 3098 allows the same business owner to brew and sell beer to also distill and sell liquor.


HB 2321 provides worker’s compensation for first responders diagnosed with PTSD. The PTSD must be the result of an event that occurred during their employment.


HB 4523 removes the limitation of number of apprentice hunting and trapping licenses a person may purchase.


HB 4557 includes the ability to impose civil penalties for good cause upon a facility providing care and treatment to mentally ill or intellectually disabled individuals and group residential homes treating behaviorally disabled individuals.


These bills now go to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Legislation


SB 130 revises procedures for suspensions and revocations of driver’s licenses for driving under the influence. The bill provides that those who have had their driver’s licenses revoked upon conviction of this offense are to complete a comprehensive safety and treatment program before the license can be reinstated.


SB 253 provides for the fair pay and employment of disabled persons, creates a state “Employment First” policy to encourage agencies to employ disabled persons, and establish a task force to initiate these policies. The bill provides for the DHHR Bureau of Behavioral Health, Bureau of Medical Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services, and Workforce WV to put the policy into practice.


SB 265 establishes a program to reclaim abandoned and dilapidated buildings in the state to improve our communities and open new parcels for development. This program, designated the Reclamation of Abandoned and Dilapidated Properties Program will provide WV counties with a new tool to invite investment in our communities.


SB 279 requires dental insurance plans to honor an assignment of payments due under the policy to individuals who sign the agreement.


SB 291 requires PEIA and other health insurance providers to provide mental health parity. This would be divided between mental health, behavioral health, substance abuse disorders and medical procedures.


SB 484 requires that free feminine hygiene products be given to female prisoners, as well as female juveniles in juvenile detention centers.


SB 490 addresses criminal offenses against agricultural facilities. The purpose of the bill is to protect these facilities by establishing that damaging, destroying, or depriving the operator of a facility of their property is a criminal offense. The bill males a person who commits such an offense liable for twice the amount of the damages they cause.


SB 502 increases the penalty for methamphetamine trafficking. The bill defines the different terms and degrees of this felony and provides a description of how the penalty should be implemented.


SB 562 clarifies expungement of certain criminal convictions. The bill also eliminates the requirement that the chief law enforcement officer or head of a law-enforcement agency is sought where such an agency was not the arresting agency. The bill also clarifies that the Commissioner of Corrections is served with a copy of the petition for expungement if the petitioner was confined for a crime they seek to have expunged.


SB 610 removes the resident manager requirement for the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. The bill also removes the residency requirement for granting permits under the Medical Cannabis Act. The WV Lottery is also to remove residency and United States citizenship requirements from its statutes.


SB 649 permits the director of a county or municipality emergency phone system to create contracts for emergency mobile phones if landlines are unavailable


SB 660 regulates electronic bicycles by providing for their exclusion from registration, title, insurance and driver’s license requirements. The bill prohibits the influence of alcohol and drugs on these bicycles and requires the wearing of a helmet.


SB 692 clarifies that persons indicted or charged jointly for a felony is entitled to a separate trial to address the guilt or innocence of the offense or offenses.


SB 702 allows a school district to develop programs including but not limited to an optional physical fitness program to teach nutrition and physical fitness. The bill also creates a fund from which money can be awarded on a competitive basis to qualifying school districts.


SB 725 is a supplemental appropriation bill amends and increases items of appropriations to the Department of Education for the 2020 fiscal year.


SB 746 provides contracted managed care companies with the uniform maternal screening tool for their own covered lives. The data collected by the tool will remain confidential with these contracted managed care companies.


SB 747 requires the Bureau of Public Health to develop a Diabetes Action Plan. This plan would include convening a task force, conducting data, drafting a plan for prevention, disease management and treatment and tracking relevant statistics regarding diabetes.


SB 778 creates a supplemental appropriation of expired funds from the State Excess Lottery Revenue Fund to various accounts in the Department of Health and Human Resources.


SB 779 transfers funds from the State Excess Lottery Revenue Fund to the Department of Veterans Assistance.


These bills now go to the House for consideration.



First responders PTSD bill clears House
After three years of vetting from seven different committees, HB 2321 was passed unanimously by the House on Friday. The legislation permits first responders to take workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by their jobs. Currently, PTSD treatment is only covered by workers’ comp if there is an accompanying physical injury.


Read Taylor Stuck’s article in the Herald-Dispatch here.

Photo by Perry Bennett



Activity Calendar

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


Mon. Feb. 24

West Virginians for Life Rally

Chiropractic Day

Pharmacy Day


Tue. Feb. 25

Fairmont State College

Bluefield State College


Wed. Feb. 26

Higher Education Day


Thur. Feb. 27

Arts Day


Fri. Feb. 28

Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Day

WV Adult Education Association



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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