New Structure


We send this newsletter to our clients to keep them abreast of the actions and decisions by the legislature. Because we represent a variety of sectors, we think it might be easier for our readers to find bills that are of interest to them by breaking them down by category, rather than committee. We hope our readers find the new headings helpful.


Foster Care


This morning the House Health and Human Resources committee passed HB 2620 requiring the Department of Health and Human Resources to provide a study of Child Protective Services, foster care workforce and its caseload. The study is being proposed because of the effectiveness of a similar study in 2018 addressing kinship placements. That particular study ended up becoming a foster care bill addressing the issue.Cammie Chapman, Associate General Counsel for DHHR applauded the legislature for the work its done to improve foster care over the past three years. She added this study is the next step in understanding the workload and needs. The study will be conducted by a third party that will look the Departments policies, and all of the tasks needed in regard to its caseload. Chapman said this study will help determine if the Department has the capacity to get the workload completed in a timely manner. The results of the study are to be reported to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability by July 1, 2022.


Governor’s Bill – Covid -19 Immunity


House Judiciary spent 90 minutes discussing SB277, the Covid 19 Jobs Protection Act. Described by counsel as a “definitions driven bill,” this Governor’s bill limits certain claims against persons or entities arising from COVID-19, COVID-19 care, or impacted care. It extinguishes liability for death or personal injury related to the design, manufacture, or labeling of supplies or personal protective equipment either sold or donated.The bill creates an exception to the extinguishment of claims for persons having actual knowledge of a product defect acting with conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to a substantial and unnecessary risk or with actual malice. It makes workers’ compensation the sole and exclusive remedy for COVID-19-related injuries or conditions through employment. The bill is retroactive to January 1, 2020. ‘

In an unusual discussion, Committee Vice-Chairman Fast provided or supported several amendments, stating that it is a “disservice to protect willful and intentional actions.” An amendment to provide a date of finality, determined to be when the Governor lifts the state emergency also failed. Vice-Chairman Fast stated, with regard to PPE, “We are leaving no duty of care or standards but it’s going to enjoy total immunity.”  Several members who voted against amendments stated that they would “weaken the bill.” A delegate speaking against the bill provided a letter from AARP expressing strong opposition to blanket immunity and noted that WV would be an outlier from several other states who have passed more limited Covid 19 immunity. The bill passed.




Gov. Justice to hold 2nd virtual town hall on plan to repeal state income tax Wednesday at 7 p.m.


After being criticized for holding his first Town Hall meeting in the middle of the day, Gov. Jim Justice, will hold a second virtual town hall on his proposal to repeal the state income tax. He will answer as many pre-submitted questions as time allows.WHEN: Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.


CALL: Call the Governor’s Office at 304-558-2000 and a receptionist will take down your question.

All West Virginians are encouraged to watch the live stream of the town hall at the following links:







Bill authorizes payment of fees & expenses, and Intermediate Court bill passes Senate Finance Committee
The Senate advanced legislation to the House Tuesday that provides for parity of payment for telehealth services between a service in-person and a service provided through a telehealth platform, including service that is established and provided through audio-only means.SB1 limits a patient to no more than three telemedicine consultations without an in-person primary care visit. Further, a physician cannot prescribe controlled substances listed in Schedules II though V to a patient until the physician has evaluated the patient in person.

Also on Tuesday, the body passed Senate Bill 12, which would give county commissions more control over the actions of local health departments. The legislation would require county commissions and other health-appointing entities like municipal governments to approve or disapprove rules passed by local public health boards. The bill would require a public comment period on new or amended rules. It also would require health boards to post new rules on the State Register.


Public Safety


Senate Government Organization passed SB338 to fix a drafting error that occurred in the 2020 regular session. This returns the language of the repealed 29-3-5f to code, which was mistakenly overwritten by another, still existing code section. State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree was present to answer questions, which gave members the opportunity to discuss fire departments in general. There were questions from Senator Jeffries and Senator Caputo regarding funding and grant-writing capabilities of fire departments. It was suggested that the Office of the State Fire Marshal add some focus on lists of available grants and grant-writing resources for fire departments. The bill had a second reference to Finance which the chairman will asked to be waived.Committee Substitute for SB389 passed Senate Government Organization and clarifies that the State Resiliency Office is responsible to plan for emergency and disaster response, recovery, and resiliency. It further clarifies that the state resiliency officer is a member of the board, places the secretary of the department of health and human resources on the board, and requires that the resiliency officer only vote in the event of a tie vote. The board is to elect a vice-chair from its membership and creates the duties and responsibilities of the vice-chair. In support of its passage, Senator Swope stated that the mission of the State Resiliency Office is to improve responses to disasters and this bill improves its organizational structure.


Finance & Administration


SB374 was passed by Senate Government Organization to increase the threshold for bid requirement for the Division of Corrections to $10,000 to be consistent with other agencies of the State. Currently, the threshold is $2,500.


Sine Die