The Final Stretch of the

2018 Legislative Session



Legislature passes budget in time to avoid extended session

For the first time in decades, the West Virginia Legislature has passed a budget bill in time to avoid an extended session.


Members of the state Senate agreed to go along with House of Delegates changes to the Senate’s $4.38 billion general revenue budget bill and sent it to Gov. Jim Justice on Saturday, the last day of the 60-day session.


“This morning, both the House and Senate passed the budget bill and sent it to the governor for signature,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. “This is the first time in at least 35 years that the budget has been completed within the 60-day session without an extended session.”




The Legislature


Bill dismantling Education and the Arts goes to the governor
The bill dismantling the Department of Education and the Arts is headed to the governor.


The House of Delegates concurred with some changes on Saturday afternoon and passed the bill.


Senate votes to make Ethics Act apply to ‘public servant volunteers’
The issue arose after businessman Bray Cary became a volunteer in Gov. Jim Justice’s office. Cary is a board member for EQT Corporation, which has significant oil and gas operations in West Virginia.


Water quality bill advances out of WV House
A water quality bill advocates referred to as “common sense” advanced out of the House Thursday morning.


SB 290, which addresses discharge into the water and water quality standards, heads to the Governor’s desk on an 88-9 vote in the House.


Voters will decide on judicial branch’s budget oversight
 State voters will be asked in November if they think the Legislature should have oversight of the judicial branch’s budget.


The Legislature passed a joint resolution Friday proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would give lawmakers a narrow oversight of the judicial branch’s budget. Lawmakers took the action following reports of lavish spending by the state Supreme Court of Appeals.


Senate passes bill dealing with food stamp eligibility
The state Senate passed a bill dealing with eligibility and fraud requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


Senators passed the bill 27-6. The House would still need to concur with some amendments the Senate made in committee.


Walters resigns from WV House; prosecutor says deal made
Amid accusations that he filed a false lien against a property in Wayne County, West Virginia House of Delegates member Ron Walters resigned from office Wednesday and agreed to never seek public office again, according to Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller.



The Governor


Governor signs three bills
The governor signed a bill that will change the way gas and oil drilling rights are secured, a bill that will change the way natural gas royalties are calculated for flat-rate leases and a bill that will allow sports betting.


PEIA Task Force appointed
The creation of the task force to work on a permanent fix for the health insurance plan for state workers operated by the Public Employees Insurance Agency was one of the moves that helped stop the nine-day state education workers strike that ended earlier this week.
Justice to add 6 women to PEIA Task Force
House of Delegates Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison and Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, sent letters to Justice asking for additional female representation on the PEIA Task Force. Beach requested three of the women appointed be classrooms teachers and the other three minority members.


Justice signs natural gas bills dealing with owners’ rights
Gov. Jim Justice has signed a bill dealing with the rights of multiple owners on a single piece of property.


“This co-tenancy law will allow for oil and gas development while protecting the rights of surface, mineral and landowners,” Justice stated in a news release.


Constitutional amendment on abortion heads to November ballot
The West Virginia House of Delegates, with more than the two-thirds majority needed, decided Monday to ask voters whether the following sentence should be added to the state constitution: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”


Gov. Justice reflects on 2018 legislative session, speaks about his wins, losses
While members of the House of Delegates and state Senate pounded through last-minute legislation in the waning hours of the 60-day session, Gov. Jim Justice was clearly in a happy mood.


“There’s a feeling, I think, of cooperation and a feeling of unity and hope,” Justice said in his office in the Capitol Saturday afternoon.





Justice puts a bow on the WV teacher pay raise bill
“What we really should be doing is looking at our children and our teachers as an investment that we’re trying to make great. That’s what we’re doing in West Virginia, and the world has seen it.”


WV student teachers say pay raise passage will benefit them, help with recruitment
College students entering the teaching profession in West Virginia say the result of the recent teacher strike will benefit them.


“I think it affects the teachers going into education more than the ones that are retiring,” said Skyler Tomblin, a senior at West Virginia State University, during a job fair at the school Thursday.


Education roundup: What passed in WV Legislature and what didn’t
Following pushback against them, including from public school employees who flooded the state Capitol during the nine-school-day-long strike, several education-related bills like ones affecting union dues failed to survive this year’s regular legislative session, which ended Saturday.


WVU makes requirement modifications as result of statewide work stoppage
In the aftermath of a statewide work stoppage of teachers and service personnel, West Virginia University staff are doing everything they can to make sure their students still meet K-12 education-based requirements.


House puts GPA criteria back in Promise Scholarship eligibility bill
The West Virginia House of Delegates Monday put back into a bill the Promise Scholarship eligibility requirement that says public and private students must have at least a 3.0 high school grade point average “in the required core and elective course work necessary to prepare students for success in post-secondary education.”
Legislature advances bills on private school testing, homeschool Promise eligibility
The West Virginia Senate is set to vote Wednesday on a bill (House Bill 4183) that would reduce state-mandated standardized testing requirements for most private schools in the near term but also, in the future, more closely align testing requirements in those schools to what’s required in public schools.


Changes to alternative teacher certification voted down in Senate Education
The Senate Education Committee this evening voted down a bill that would have broadened school systems’ abilities to hire teachers who have received certificates through alternative programs.



Public Safety


Legislature passes bill permitting guns locked in cars on employers’ lots
The Legislature has passed a bill that would allow people to keep firearms locked in their vehicles while parked on their employer’s property.


Gun bills advance in Senate, House
SB 244, which the Senate passed 30-0 Feb. 6, would clarify that if the vehicle as a whole is locked, the gun could be stored in an unlocked “glove box or other interior compartment.”



Health Care


WV House leader labels proposal to make drug firms report opioid sales ‘Disneyland’
West Virginia lawmakers rejected proposals on Wednesday to tax drug firms and force them to report the number of prescription painkillers shipped to the state, with one Republican legislator calling the latter idea a “Disneyland amendment.”


WV opioid bill heads to governor’s desk
Legislation awaiting Gov. Jim Justice’s signature hopes to hit West Virginia’s opioid epidemic where it is widely believed to have started: the over-prescribing of pain pills.


Research, experts: ending needle exchange won’t make problems disappear
Research and people who’ve worked at and studied syringe exchange programs suggest that ending Charleston’s program won’t make related problems go away.


They also suggest that needles in public places and abandoned homes in Charleston are likely not the result of the needle exchange.





Medical marijuana bill dies in House in final minutes of session
The bill (HB 4345) included several provisions that supporters said were meant to make the passage of last year’s bill to legalize medical marijuana in the Mountain State more effective.
Time runs out on bill making changes to WV’s medical cannabis program
The clock ran out Saturday for the Legislature to implement a change to the state’s medical cannabis program, not long after the state treasurer raised doubts for the financial infrastructure behind it.