For the second time, the Senate laid a bill that removes the requirement that a determination of medical stability be found prior to admission to a mental health facility.Engrossed Committee Substitute for SB509 was laid over a second time Wednesday to perfect language to ensure individuals with medical conditions and not mental conditions wrongly committed to state hospitals will not lose their rights to own firearms. The bill says they will not lose their firearm rights, but it was pointed out during the debate that the proposed state law saying they will not lose their firearms cannot supersede a federal statute. The federal statute prohibits firearm ownership by those who have been involuntarily committed and who have had other mental health problems.

The innate purpose of the bill is to save deputies time. Current law requires a determination of medical stability before a person is involuntarily committed to a state hospital. That is at times difficult to obtain from a physician. This requirement was only added to the law in recent years, but Charles TrumpSenate Judiciary Committee chairman said it made for an unintended consequence with monopolizing much of the time spent by deputies transporting the patients. The Senate defeated an amendment that would have allowed law enforcement officers other than deputies transport patients.

The Senate passed SB590. which removes the restriction preventing edible forms of medical marijuana. This is one of the somewhat regular bills dealing with marijuana to pass the legislature with no clear opening in site of the now four-year-old program. This bill allow marijuana to be sold in an edible form, although the edibles can’t look like anything that may attract children. Proponents of the bill talked about how it would help with end-of-life pain; opponents cited a drastic increase in emergency room visits brought on by children accidentally ingesting marijuana.


Criminal Fees


SB663which provides for a fee for the processing of criminal bonds, was adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Under the bill, the clerk of a magistrate court is required to charge and collect a fee of $25 for processing criminal bonds and a fee of $10 for processing of bail piece. The fees collected are to be deposited in the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Fund created by §29-26-6 of this code. The bill now goes to the Senate.




A comprehensive rewrite of the state’s election law passed the Senate by a vote of 29-5 Wednesday. Engrossed Committee Substitute for SB565 now goes to the House. Judiciary Chairman Trump says the bill:·     Prohibits county clerks from accepting private election funding.

·     Standardizes how voter registration questions are to be asked when a person registers to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

·     Reduces the timeline for receiving confirmation notices from “idle voters,” those whose names are on the election books but who have not voted in several elections.

·     Allows voters to vote an electronic absentee ballot when the time has passed for voting absentee.

·     Requires absentee ballots be requested 11 days before an election.

·     Changes dates for early voting in person. Early voting will run from the 17th day before the election until the seventh day before the election.

In addition, election contests are placed within the purview of the circuit court. Recounts must happen before an election contest is filed. Those making robo calls and doing push polling must identify the candidate with whom they are affiliated.

Meanwhile, the House Technology & Infrastructure Committee met Wednesday morning to continue discussing their originating bill regarding social media and elections information from the day before. Ironically, the technology committee met in a room where the audio technology hadn’t been working properly since yesterday and kept cutting in and out. The House has no video of committee meetings and does not archive their meetings as the Senate does. There was testimony from the office of the Secretary of State that keeping up with fact-checking election information on social media was a burden to their office in 2020 and they couldn’t fact check all of it, adding that there was a lot of inaccurate information being shared.


Public Safety


Senate Judiciary passed Committee Substitute for SB634which requires that law-enforcement officers and correction officers be trained in appropriate interactions with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and to require the Law-Enforcement Professional Standards subcommittee to develop guidelines for law-enforcement and correction officer response to individuals on the autism spectrum who are victims or witnesses to a crime, or suspected or convicted of a crime. The bill goes to the full Senate.The committee also passed SB660, which provides for cooperation between law-enforcement agencies and military authorities.

The types of assistance authorized may include, but not be limited to:

·     Alleged violations of the federal and state Codes of Military Justice;

·     Alleged violations of the criminal laws of the United States and the State of West Virginia;

·     Investigations and other actions related to reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment, to include any cases of reprisal or retaliation; and

·     Violations of military directives, regulations, or instruction.


Dems address positive Covid case


Earlier this week, Democrat legislators addressed the health concerns at the Legislature related to the positive COVID test of Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh.Legislative minority leaders Senator Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, and Delegate Doug Skaff. D-Kanawha, joined with Dr. Ron Stollings, D-Boone to address the situation.

The story posted by the West Virginia Press Association can be read here.


Further opening across state


During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that he would be signing an Executive Order allowing all types of live music performances to resume, effective at midnight tonight.The executive order also allows all summer camps to resume on May 1, 2021.

All live music performances and summer camp operations must follow all applicable safety guidelines.

Additionally Wednesday, Gov. Justice announced that the DHHR’s color-coded County Alert System map will no longer be used to determine high school schedules in West Virginia.

All high schools will join all of West Virginia’s Pre-K-8 schools in being open full-time and will remain open unless there is an active outbreak that would require a particular classroom within a school to close for safety reasons, a determination that will be made by local health and education officials.


Sine Die