West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” January 5, 2018



The 2018 Legislative Session



Armstead says he won’t run for House again; may run for state Supreme Court
House Speaker Tim Armstead says he will not run again for election to the House of Delegates, saying he is considering a state Supreme Court run in 2020.



The Governor


WV Gov. Justice issues moratorium on new state regulations
The “regulatory moratorium,” as the Governor’s Office called it, aims to spur West Virginia’s economy and “promote citizens’ freedom to lawfully engage in individual, family and business pursuits.”


WV auditor wants to give staff raises separate from governor’s proposal
In an extremely brief budget presentation Monday, state Auditor J.B. McCuskey told the Senate Finance Committee he would return $1.5 million of unspent appropriations to the state’s general revenue fund, and said he wants to give his staff pay raises independent of the governor’s proposed 1 percent across-the-board hike.



Taxes and Reform


House proposal could raise the bar for raising taxes
Delegate Pat McGeehan, a member of the Liberty Caucus in the state Legislature, is proposing a resolution that could lead to two-thirds votes in both legislative chambers as a requirement to raises taxes or fees.


First hurdle is cleared for governor’s proposed pay raises for state employees
Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed average 1 percent pay raise for state employees has started moving through the Legislature, with some lawmakers saying they regret the amount isn’t more.


“I do think this is much needed, although it’s not very much of an increase for these employees,” said state Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha.


Bill to discontinue WV film tax credit goes to Senate floor
The Senate Finance Committee has agreed that West Virginia’s film tax credit should be discontinued.


Members of the committee passed legislation that would do so to the Senate floor. The bill would also have to be passed by the House of Delegates and signed by the governor.



Public Safety


Committee passes bill that would send older juvenile facility inmates to adult prison
Some of the most serious offenders housed in juvenile facilities in West Virginia could face an automatic transfer to an adult prison in a bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.





Thrasher hopes to “capture a victory” in China this week
State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher says he’s in China this week to “capture a victory” for West Virginia.


The state signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Energy on Nov. 9 for $83.7 billion in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects over the next few decades.



Health Care


House of Delegates introduces bill placing work requirements for SNAP applicants
House Bill 4001 would place work requirements on recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beginning in October. Someone would be able to seek a volunteer opportunity if the state Department of Health and Human Resources deems there are enough opportunities.


WV drug czar steps down
Jim Johnson, director of the state’s new Office of Drug Control Policy, was hired to help lead the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths. West Virginia has the highest fatal overdose rate in the nation.


Johnson’s sudden departure comes just days after the release of a preliminary report on ways to combat the opioid epidemic. Johnson had served on a panel of experts that drew up the report. A final report is expected before the end of the month.





WV teachers call for more than a 1 percent raise
Gov. Jim Justice, in his State of the State address last week, requested a “1 percent” across-the-board pay increase for West Virginia teachers in this year’s legislative session, with further 1 percent increases in each of the next four years.


“That’s it?” has essentially been the response of teachers, at least as indicated by a rally Monday in the state Capitol. About 200 people attended the West Virginia Education Association union rally, including teachers and lawmakers.


Homeschoolers push Tebow bill at West Virginia Capitol
It’s about homeschool freedom and a parent’s right to choose, argued Wendy Summers with the Christian Home Educators of West Virginia on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”


Lawmakers attempt, again, to dismantle Education and the Arts
“It’s a little scary to think the executive of this state, the governor, can have a cabinet position and appoint a secretary and the education committee in the House can just do away with it,” Manchin said Wednesday, after the House Education Committee voted to do just that.


House Finance discusses outcomes-based funding for higher education
Under the proposal, 70 percent of funding would be based on credit hours taken, with higher-level courses, and STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) weighted more heavily. Total degrees awarded would account for 25 percent of funding, with student success — measured by several factors, including graduation and retention rates — accounting for 5 percent of the funding formula.



In Other Legislative News


Single-member districts proposed for WV in House bill
Republicans in the House of Delegates are pushing a bill to change the chamber’s makeup to 100 single-member districts after the 2020 Census.