The Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining passed SB404 Tuesday. The bill allows for a statutory fee increase for to permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas. A permit issued may be modified to address changes to the permit if the DEP Secretary determines that the modification fully meets all applicable requirements and is consistent with the issuance of the original permit. However, the secretary may deny the application for a permit modification as outlined for new permits under this article. In addition, a request to modify a permit issued shall be on forms prescribed by the secretary and accompanied by a fee of $2,500.


The Office of Oil and Gas is the only one within the Department of Environmental Protection not to receive federal money. Its sole funding source is from industry well permits, which have diminished over the past several years leaving the office in a funding deficit. The hope is the passage of the bill could create at least a half million dollars in funding to help offset the budget deficit. The bill now heads to the full Senate.




Committee Substitute for SB383 passed Senate Finance and would exempt property from taxation used exclusively for divine worship and the operation of a pre-K school, primary school, middle school, secondary school, daycare center for children, or summer camp if operated by the church which owns the property or is operated by another not-for-profit organization or entity. Counsel explained that many Assessors exempt these properties but this legislation removes confusion.


The committee also passed Com Sub for SB344, relating to the credit for qualified rehabilitated buildings investment. It eliminates the termination date of the tax credit; and the maximum allowable amount of the tax credit.


Two bills that will be taken up in Senate Finance on Thursday morning were explained by counsel today. Committee Substitute for SB475 makes significant changes to the introduced version of the bill. It takes special revenue funds and makes them part of general revenue and subject to appropriation. The Com Sub retains this portion of the bill so that special revenue funds for Division of Forestry and Dept. of Environmental Protection would go to general revenue and those agencies would have to go through the budget process and request appropriations.


In the bill as introduced, all Chapter 30 boards’ special revenues were included but Chairman Tarr intends to make that portion a study resolution. There will be an originating bill taken up on Thursday that would make all special funds that go to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission part of general revenue and subject to appropriation.




Delegates today passed a broad-ranging broadband bill that they hope will promote online connectivity across West Virginia.


Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, said the aim of the bill is to speed the deployment of broadband and reduce the overall cost. Delegates said the need for improvement has long existed in West Virginia, but the increase of remote activities during the covid-19 pandemic has underscored that demand.


“It’s the single most important thing in my opinion that we could do this year given the covid-19 pandemic, but it was important long before that,” Linville said.


House Bill 2002 passed the House 98-1. The single no vote was Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, who often describes a libertarian political philosophy.


Read the story by Brad McElhinny of WV MetroNews story here.


West Virginia’s Bipartisan Approach to Closing the Digital Divide


Broadband expansion is unusual in these politically polarized times: a public policy issue that enjoys bipartisan support. As state and federal leaders consider ways to make high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet connections available to all Americans, many have moved to work with colleagues and partners across the political spectrum.


This interview about West Virginia’s bipartisan approach to closing the digital divide, with state Senator Robert “Bob” Plymale (D) and state Delegate and Assistant Majority Whip Daniel Linville (R), has been edited for clarity and length. Story by the Pew Trust here.




House Political Subdivisions Committee had several questions about HB2592, relating to bringing uniformity to local elections by ensuring that all counties and municipalities have their local elections held on a date that a statewide election is already taking place, on a primary, general, or special election date.


Based on questions and general confusion, there did not seem to be an understanding that several municipalities already do this. The Mercer County Delegate described the bill as “an outstanding concept rolled into a very flawed bill.” There were several questions regarding the adjustments of terms of office for the first election cycle. Morgantown was provided as an example of a city that chose not to do this because they still had to pay their share of the costs but lost some level of control of the ballot. Delegate Doyle urged rejection, saying, “I keep hearing people say they favor local control,” but noted that there has been a lot of control taken away in the last three years. Ultimately, the bill passed and will go on to House Judiciary.


Beyond the Dome


Governor Justice declares State of Emergency for 18 Counties


Gov. Jim Justice has declared a State of Emergency for Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Clay, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Randolph, Roane, Upshur, and Wayne counties due to heavy rainfall this week that caused significant flooding.

Click here to view the State of Emergency

Heavy rains caused flooding, power outages, and road blockages across all 18 counties.

As part of this State of Emergency, the Governor has directed the West Virginia Emergency Management Division to:

Implement the West Virginia Emergency Operations Plan as it relates to flood response and mobilize appropriate personnel and resources to respond to the emergency.


The State of Emergency will remain in effect for 30 days, unless terminated by subsequent proclamation.


Senior meal preparation and delivery continues in spite of flooding


Hot meals delivered to seniors in their homes were affected by the flood waters, but the efforts by the state’s senior centers continues. 13News reporter Haley Kosik chatted with Fred Brown with Kanawha Valley Senior Services who was out delivering meals in the Sissonville area. Watch the story here.


Covid Relief Bill includes historic emergency funding for Older Americans Act passed out of the US House; now pending in the US Senate


Over the weekend, the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) – a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package – by a vote of 219-212. This legislation would provide additional federal emergency funding, including historic levels for senior nutrition programs and Aging Network providers to help with outreach and supportive services related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Read our joint press statement with the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 here.


The legislation is not over the finish line, yet. Debate in the Senate is expected to begin tomorrow and will continue with a vote-a-rama, which is a session where amendments to a budget bill can be brought to the floor and voted on before it is finally passed. As amendments are expected, if the the bill passes the senate, it will likely be sent back to the House one more time for final approval of the new changes.


Legislators Battle Whether to Restrict or Expand Voting

by Carl Smith


In the aftermath of the 2020 election, voting rights are on the minds of legislators who have introduced hundreds of bills that either restrict or expand how voters can cast their ballots.

Early voting gained traction as COVID upended traditional voting practices. Now, the battle has begun to make it and other expansion changes permanent. The story in Governing Magazine can be read here.


Sine Die