West Virginia Legislative Brief: Commentary from Gil White 2/8/19
Legislative Action by the Numbers:
905 bills introduced in the House of Delegates
554 bills introduced in the State Senate
66 bills have passed the House of Delegates
67 bills have passed the State Senate
9 bills have passed both Chambers and awaiting signature of the Governor
My View from the Capitol:
We are officially halfway through the 60-day Regular Legislative Session with only 29 days remaining. The hot topic of the session has continued to be the Omnibus Educational Reform Bill (SB 451). After passage of the State Senate's version on Monday (by a vote of 18-16), the bill was sent to the House of Delegates where it immediately began deliberations. The House Education Committee struck several of the more controversial issues. One was a non-severability clause that would have struck down the whole bill if any part were thrown out in court. The other was a "paycheck protection" provision requiring teachers union members to sign off on their union dues annually.
As teachers unions across West Virginia count strike authorization votes, the Speaker of the House of Delegates has called for a public hearing on an education bill under consideration. Two public hearings are scheduled for 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Monday, February 11. Both will be held in the House chamber. Assuming a bill ultimately passes the House of Delegates, there is no guarantee the State Senate would concur and agree with the House changes. Should this be the case, a conference committee comprised of Senate and House members could be formed to address the differences between the two houses. If agreement is reached, and SB 451 completes its legislative action, the bill would be sent to the Governor for his consideration. The Governor has previously stated he would consider vetoing any bill that went beyond his proposed pay raises. If vetoed, the Legislature appears to be in a posture where they potentially could override the Governor's veto. Stay tuned as this is a moving target that changes day by day.
Other bills that have received legislative activity include:
HB 2481- Permitting retail sale of liquor on Sundays after 1 p.m. Passed 85-13-2. Headed to the State Senate for consideration
HB 2779 - Provides a means for royalties due to unknown or unlocatable mineral owners to be transferred to the Oil and Gas Reclamation Fund after seven years. The fund, which has about $400,000 now, is used to cap abandoned and orphan wells. This bill passed 98-0 and is pending in the State Senate.
Legislative Calendar - Important Days to Remember
First Day - January 9
20th Day - January 28 - Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review Bills due
35th Day - February 12 - Last day to introduce bills in the House
41st Day - February 18 - Last day to introduce bills in the Senate
47th Day - February 24 - Bills due out of committee in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings
50th Day - February 27 - Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin. Does not apply to the budget bill or supplemental appropriation bills.
60th Day - March 9 - Adjournment at midnight