Professions & Occupations


Senate Government Organization resumed its discussion of a strike & insert for the controversial HB2007, which deals with occupational licensing. After many questions and lengthy discussion Tuesday, the committee counsel reworked the bill to address concerns. The “three legs of the stool” of licensing – education, experience, and examination have been added to each chapter addressed in the bill. Changes clarify that the board of the profession has discretion whether to accept the license from another state In addition to two years’ experience, other criteria are described and, once again, accepting experience is at the discretion of the licensing board. The board also has discretion regarding whether the standards for licensing in another state are substantially similar to those in WV.The bill applies to trades as well as professions that have less reciprocity.

Leslie Tabor, Executive Director for the Professional Board of Engineers, said the bill sounds much better, but she had not had an opportunity to read it.

Mike Clowser spoke for Business and Industry Council, expressing support for opportunities that bring people into the state, but BIC wants to make sure West Virginians are treated fairly. While the bill does not address reciprocity, these changes seem to help ensure everyone is on a level playing field, explained Clowser.

Senator Mike Caputo, D-Marion, asked why medical professions were taken out of the bill to which Chairman Maynard explained, “It made the bill more palatable.”

Senator Woelfel expressed concerns that social workers and dieticians, which are also medical professionals, are still in the bill. The bill passed the committee and now goes to Senate Judiciary.




House Judiciary began their day with a bill that came from House Health, HB2982, titled the Second Chance at Life Act; requiring that information about the process of chemical abortion be provided to a woman prior to prescribing pharmaceuticals for, or administering, a chemical abortion except in certain emergency circumstances. It specifies that the woman be informed of the possibility of reversal of a chemical abortion if undertaken within a critical time period. Due to concerns that the bill being taken up was not the wording that came from House Health, the bill will be taken up later today.Meanwhile, the Senate Health Committee adopted a committee substitute to SB551 , which removes references to “persistent vegetative state” from the living will and updates the living will and medical power attorney forms by making several changes to reorganize, add clarity and minimize confusion. The bill now goes to the full Senate.


The committee also considered SB590, which removes the current prohibition on medical cannabis being provided in an edible form. Under the Medical Cannabis Act, pills, oils, topical gel and ointments, tincture, liquid, dermal patches and a form medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization are permitted to be prescribed.Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, expressed his opposition to medical marijuana in general and said it “is kicking the door down for recreational” marijuana. He provided statistics on the impact of marijuana on children and emphasized the danger of marijuana poisoning by accidental injection of lawfully obtained marijuana. He believes edible forms of marijuana will increase the risk of accidental injection by children. He urged a no vote on the bill.

Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, asked counsel about rules on how edibles may be packaged. Counsel indicated that the Bureau for Public Health has the power to regulate packaging.

Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, offered an amendment based on a 2016 law from Colorado to prohibit the sale of medical cannabis products in the shape of human, animal, fruit or any other shape that may entice children. The committee adopted the amendment and voted to recommend passage of the bill by the full Senate.

People pursuing speech pathology and audiology degrees would be exempted from license requirements in SB644.  Sen. Weld shared that he was contacted by West Liberty University seeking to train students in the installation of hearing aids as part of their education.

Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Cabell, asked whether the bill applies only to accredited schools. Counsel said the bill does not. Plymale is concerned that the bill would authorize students to perform services other than installing hearing aids. He asked whether counsel contacted other institutions offering similar programs about whether they are having the same problems as West Liberty University. She did not. He asks that the committee inquire of institutions that offer the same or similar program.

Chairman Maroney said he will personally contact other institutions with the same or similar programs to inquire whether they are experiencing problems with the current law and do so before the bill is taken up on the floor of the Senate. The committee went ahead and reported the bill to the full Senate with a recommendation that the bill pass.




Committee Substitute for HB3106 generated a lot of discussion in House Judiciary and would change the time for a secured bond hearing to five days (as introduced, the bill changed 72 hours to 10 days). It also provides that any magistrate can set bail, not just the one who had the first hearing.The bill was amended to allow seven days to account for weekends & legal holidays.  “Mistakes are made all the time in the criminal justice system,” said a Delegate in opposition to the bill, particularly since it applies to misdemeanors and could keep someone in jail for up to seven days. Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, noted this would add costs to counties for jail bills. In response to the time frames, a delegate who is a criminal defense attorney said there is no recourse if deadlines aren’t met so the bill essentially has no effect no matter what the deadline is. An amendment was offered to compel the magistrates to honor the deadlines. The bill was placed into subcommittee who are to meet quickly.

The committee passed HB3164, which would clarify elements of a kidnapping offense. The bill addresses a Boone County case where the Supreme Court overturned a kidnapping conviction because the code and jury instructions regarding kidnapping included “having to transport.” In this case, the victim was confined to the house and not transported, so the life sentence for kidnapping was overturned. Counsel explained that transporting is not part of most states’ definitions of kidnapping now and this bill comports with that.


Constitutional Amendment Resolution


The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Joint Resolution 7, which proposes amending the state Constitution to give state lawmakers more flexibility to reduce personal property taxes. The resolution next will be considered by the Senate Finance CommitteeProperty taxes are defined in the state constitution. If the bill passes both houses, the public would be called upon to vote on a constitutional amendment in the 2024 general election.

WV MetroNews published this story by Brad McElhinny.


Public Safety


Senate Judiciary passed SB658, which requires sheriff’s departments to actively participate in and utilize all components of the “Handle With Care” program to help trauma-inflicted children in the public or private school system.Elizabeth Lloyd, Handle with Care Coordinator in Mason County spoke to the committee about the advantages of the program and the need for it especially in the midst of the opioid drug crisis. She explained that law-enforcement in her county are not fully invested in the program which is probably the result of their work load. But she personally has seen the positive impact on children who are the victims of trauma.

Former Delegate Rodney Miller, Executive Director of the WV Sheriff’s Association described the program as a no brainer and incredibly valuable, and he was surprised that not all law-enforcement agencies are supportive of the program. He said the sheriff’s association is happy to be a leader in participation.

Sen. Grady, a teacher, spoke in support of the bill from personal experience dealing with students who have experienced difficulties at home, including traumatic circumstances.

Sens. Mike Caputo and Mike Romano also spoke in support of the legislation.


Senate Government Organization passed without amendment HB2621, relating to requirements of fire departments. It requires the Fire Officer 2 training to contain a component on current laws, rules and regulations governing the fire service and requires the Firefighter 1 training to contain a section on the Fire Commission, Fire Marshal’s Office and the operations of both. It establishes a mandatory certification program for fire chiefs, or acting chiefs, of every fire department. It sets up criteria under which the certification can be denied, suspended or revoked and allows persons with specialized training to be members of volunteer fire departments who are not certified as firefighters, but limits their actions.Senate Government Organization also quickly passed SB577, which exempts certain fire departments from licensure requirements for the provision of rapid response services. Counsel explained that it codifies what is current practice.


House Judiciary passed Committee Substitute for HB3215 regarding requirements for the elected prosecuting attorney. Currently, the law allows someone to run for the office as long as they would be a licensed attorney and have passed the bar by the time they take office. This bill states that any person who files to run for prosecuting attorney must already be a licensed attorney.The original bill also required three years of experience, but the requirement was removed from the com sub. There was a situation in Mingo County where a person who filed to run for prosecutor did not pass the state bar exam prior to the general election While the person did not win the general election, the elected prosecutor won by only 17 votes. This bill would prevent a situation where the elected prosecutor might not pass the bar and become licensed prior to taking office.


Beyond the Dome


Former West Virginian may be new drug czarBiden considering Gupta for drug czar. Becker’s reports, “President Joe Biden is considering Rahul Gupta, MD, the former West Virginia public health commissioner [and commissioner of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department], to lead his administration’s drug policy office, three people familiar with the matter told Politico.”

Interestingly, the same story notes Dr. Patrice Harris is in the running for the job. Harris, an Atlanta psychiatrist, is a former president of the American Medical Association. She is a Bluefield native and West Virginia University graduate.

WaPo calls Gupta ‘leading candidate. “The Washington Post reports, “A former West Virginia health official has emerged as a leading candidate to be the nation’s top drug policy official, a post that President Biden will not restore to Cabinet rank despite insisting as a senator that the ‘drug czar’ deserves that status.”

Filter Magazine questions Gupta qualifications. Filter reports, “But Dr. Gupta previously led West Virginia’s response to the overdose crisis, as the state’s public health commissioner from 2015 to 2018. And it’s his actions (or rather, inaction) in this role that raise questions about his suitability for the ONDCP post —especially since Biden’s current ONDCP has expressed a commitment to compassionate harm reduction principles, a major departure from past federal drug policy agendas.”


CBS Pittsburgh reports on state’s high HIV rates. CBSN reports, “For years, West Virginia has had the nation’s highest rate of opioid drug addictions and drug overdose deaths. Now the state is wrestling with another, not entirely unrelated health emergency: one of the nation’s highest spikes in HIV cases related to intravenous drug use.”Situational awareness: Most all admit to the HIV spike. The slow-boiling controversy is what group, if any, will attempt to run a successful syringe exchange program.


Sine Die