From The Well

March 4, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 57



House members send letter to Senate about Foster Care bill changed in Senate Judiciary


Changes made to HB4092 by the senate, along with its languishing at the bottom of the Senate Judiciary committee’s agenda for Tuesday, prompted four delegates to send a letter to Sen. Charles Trump, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


In addition to expressing concerns about the changes, the letter specifically asked for the original funding section of the bill to be restored.


The letter was signed by Delegates Jeffrey Pack, R-Raleigh, Jordan Hill, R-Nicholas, Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia and Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall.


The bill was taken up last night by the Senate Judiciary Committee following the evening Senate floor session. A strike and insert amendment replaced the reimbursement increases passed by the House with a tiered reimbursement system and a requirement for DHHR to evaluate payments to child placement agencies to determine whether the rates help or hinder adoption rates.


Delegate Pack, vice chairman of the House Health Committee, testified before Senate Judiciary. He said the earlier bill was shaped for months to encourage more families to take in West Virginia’s hundreds of foster children. He expressed concern about the changes.


“I would suggest that I’m not certain the product before you necessarily addresses the problem in an effective fashion,” Pack told senators.


Senators Woefel and Hardesty expressed frustration that the funding sent over by the House was removed from the bill.


Sen. Jeffries moved to strike out the Senate payment language and add back in the House payments, saying, “They need help; they need financial help. It should be the state’s obligation to provide that funding.”


Sen. Weld responded that it is more appropriate for the Finance Committee to add the funding back in.


Jeffreys’ amendment, as well as amendments by Sen. Baldwin were rejected and the strike and insert amendment was advanced.


Read the delegates’ letter here.



FAFSA waived for some by Senate Education


Senate Education advanced HB 4737, which seeks to clarify student eligibility for state-sponsored financial aid and requires the vice chancellor for administration to report on it. The bill would primarily apply to students who are raised by a grandparent or other family member rather than their parents and do not have access to the forms required to complete a FASFA to receive financial aid.


The bill would waive the requirement for the completion of the FASFA in order to receive financial aid from the state under specific conditions.


Matt Turner, the vice chancellor of administration for the Higher Education Policy Commission, answered questions from the committee. He explained the bill allows for consultation with secondary schools in order to arrange the waiver.


“Currently, institutions can waive certain requirements for FASFA, but we can’t waive FASFA and provide state-level assistance without this,” he said.


The bill was advanced to the full Senate.



Shared table bill advancing in Senate
HB4447 was passed by the Senate Government Organization Committee today and the bill was read the first time on the Senate floor Tuesday night.


The bill, which allows food items not eaten as part of meals served in senior centers to be placed on a table for others to take.


The bill is on second reading today.



Senate Government Organization committee advances seven House bills

Senate Government Organization had a lengthy agenda Tuesday in order to get House bills to the floor by Wednesday, so they could be read three times by Saturday’s close of the session.


Committee Substitute for HB 4619 quickly passed, authorizing the Public Service Commission to approve plans proposed by electric utilities to install middle-mile broadband fiber and provide expedited cost recovery.


The Fusion Center is the subject of a strike & insert amendment for Committee Substitute for HB 4176, establishing a new article creating the West Virginia Fusion Center Act. Thomas Kirk, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Dept. of Military Affairs & Public Safety, said most of their concerns have been addressed.  A representative from ACLU said that the codification provides oversight but there is opportunity to clearly define parameters of the Fusion Center. The bill passed.


Strike & insert amendment for Committee Substitute for HB 4717 passed, relating to bookkeeping procedures and internal controls for seized or forfeited property under the West Virginia Contraband Forfeiture Act. It provides for record keeping and accounting procedures.


Creation of the shared table initiative for senior citizens who suffer from food insecurity is accomplished in HB 4447 which passed. The bill expands on the success of the shared table initiative in schools to create a similar program in senior centers and locations where senior citizens receive congregate meals.


The committee passed Strike & insert amendment for HB 4178 relating to requiring calls for emergency service which are recorded be maintained for a period of five years.


Under Committee Substitute for HB 4823 that passed the committee,  the State Auditor in cooperation with the Public Service Commission is to conduct audits for use of fees relating to emergency 911 telephone system and wireless enhanced 911 fees.


Passage of a strike & insert amendment for Committee Substitute for HB 4444 will establish Medals of Valor and criteria for awarding it for emergency medical service members, firefighters, and law-enforcement officers. It establishes a Firefighters Honors Board, a Law-Enforcement Honor Board, and the Emergency Medical Services Honor Board  to recommend persons to receive the Medal of Valor.


All seven bills were reported to the floor and read the first time during the evening floor session.


House Health meets to advance Senate telehealth bill


The House Health and Human Resources Committee met briefly to consider Eng. Com. Sub. for SB 710, which establishes a PEIA pilot program allowing telehealth services using audio only technology. The required-West-Virginia-licensed physician answering the telehealth consultation must determine the technology is sufficient to  provide needed patient services and meets standards of care.


Those accessing telehealth care must visit a primary care physician within 12 months. If they do not, they will be blocked from using telehealth services. Three telehealth consultations are allowed each year. The bill was approved 34-0. It will probably move through the House this week.


House Judiciary handles variety of bills after marathon floor session


House Judiciary had a variety of bills after a long floor session on Tuesday. They quickly passed several bills, including:

HB 664, adding a physician’s assistant to the list of medical professionals able to determine an individual lacks capacity regarding medical or mental health treatment. The bill also adds psychologists, physician’s assistants, or advanced practice registered nurses to list of professionals able to inform a patient that he or she has been determined to be incapacitated.


Committee Substitute for SB 711 authorizes the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, in collaboration with the Juvenile Justice Commission of the Supreme Court to undertake an investigation of numerous issues related to juvenile justice, juvenile competency, and procedures for dealing with juveniles found incompetent to assist counsel in proceedings against them. They are to report findings to the Legislature by July 31, 2020.


Committee Substitute for 717 relates to adult protective services, abuse, neglect, and vulnerable adults. As counsel explained, the substance of the bill is in the definitions. It provides for the release of investigative summaries of substantiated and unsubstantiated reports of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation to certain individuals.  The archaic term of “incapacitated” adult is removed and replaced with a definition of a vulnerable adult: any person over the age of 18, or an emancipated minor, who by reason of physical, mental or other infirmity or mental condition is unable to independently carry on the daily activities of life necessary to sustaining life and reasonable health and protection.  After the unusually quick passage of several bills with no questions or discussion, Chairman Shott asked, “Is there life in the committee this afternoon?”


Strike & insert amendment for Committee Substitute for SB 278 relates to a defendant’s competency to stand trial. The S & I amendment incorporates provisions of HB 4009, relating to the process for involuntary hospitalization and adds agreed upon amendments from DHHR and stakeholders.


Chairman Shott allowed the committee to take a recess and study the amended bill, due to its importance. According to a spokesperson, the current statutes are vulnerable to class-action lawsuits. “Sometimes in state government, we say, well, we’ve always done it this way. This is an opportunity to do it differently,” said the spokesperson. He explained that stakeholders included the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association and representatives from Disability Rights and Behavioral Health. The bill calls for a cross section of professionals to work collaboratively to address forensic issues and report to the legislature by July, 2020.



Bill exempting physicians from traffic laws in emergency situations dies


Eng. Com. Sub. for SB 700 died on a tie vote in House Judiciary Committee. Amendments were added requiring physicians seeking the exemption to have blinking red lights in their vehicles and maintain $1 million in insurance coverage. The bill exempted physicians traveling to emergencies from certain traffic laws regarding speeding and stop signs. Boards of Medicine were required to implement rules defining the exemption. Physicians qualifying for the exemption would have been required to display decals on their windshields. The bill passed the Senate 34-0.  It died Tuesday in House Judiciary Committee on a tie vote.


Secretary of State selects mobile voting platform


Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office has selected the mobile voting app for eligible voters to use in the May 12 Primary Election.


Earlier, Governor Justice signed into law, SB94, which provides those with disabilities, access to an online ballot.


Read the story by Charles Young with WV here.



Activity Calendar

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


Wed. March 4

Recovery Community Day

Fair Shake Network Ice Cream Social 1 – 5 p.m.


Thur. March 5

West Virginia National Hemophilia Foundation

American Red Cross Day


Fri. March 6


AARP Legislative Dinner



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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