House Income tax and Budget Bills


The House passed HB3300 , its version of the personal income tax bill. The bill phases out the income tax in increments of at least $150 million annually until it phases out completely. In addition to reducing personal income taxes for citizens, House Finance Chairman Eric Householder, said the bill also aims to control government spending and growth.“It does control the growth and rate of spending,” he said. “That is important because many of our citizens have real concerns that growth in state spending is out of control.”

The West Virginia Gazette-Mail’s Phil Kabler has a story about the discussion on the floor here.

Then, in an afternoon meeting, the House Finance Committee passed its budget bill, HB2022. Overall, the proposed budget projects $4.492 billion in general fund spending, $77 million less than the Governor’s proposed budget.

The bill proposes budget cuts to WVU, Marshall, Tourism, the Jobs and Hope Program and other programs. However, it is anticipated that surpluses would restore funds to most if not all of those cut.

WV MetroNews’ Brad McElhinny has a story about the House budget bill and questions by members or the Finance Committee here.


Working hard to save jobs


Members of the United Steelworkers Local 8-957 spent the day at the West Virginia Capitol Monday meeting with Monongalia County legislators about the fate of the Viatris Facility in Morgantown. Viatris, formerly known as Mylan Pharmaceuticals, announced in December it would close the Morgantown plant July 31, 2021. Union leaders met with Senators Bob Beach, and Mike Caputo, Mara Boggs, State Director for US Senator Joe Manchin, and Monongalia County Delegates John Williams and Joe Statler. The concern of both the employees and legislators is the impending devastation not only to the employees and their families but also to the economy in north central West Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania, and western Maryland. As many as 1,500 union and non-union members with an estimated payroll of $200 million stand to lose their jobs.
Senators Caputo and Beech spoke on the Senate floor about the contingent of employees visiting, as well as the history and importance of the work force to northcentral West Virginia.


Actions by the Governor


The Governor has signed 29 bills including HB2013 – the Hope Scholarship bill, the HB2006 – Contractor Licensing Act, SB404 – Modifying well work permits, and SB12 – Relating to local health department accountability.He has vetoed one bill, SB89, which exempted private school kindergartens and preschools from registration requirements. And he has allowed one bill to become law without his signature. That bill is SB11, which declares that work stoppages or strikes by public employees are illegal.

There are 20 bills currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.




The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed SB485 – Relating to use or presentation of firearm during commission of felony.The bill adds “possession” to the current statute that authorizes a separate and distinct felony offense for the use or presentation of a firearm while engaged in the commission of a felony. Currently, it is unlawful to possess or present a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Counsel presented a committee substitute that includes a new criminal offense for specifically enumerated criminal offenses.

Sen. Rucker asked why the bill creates a new felony. Counsel asserted that possession is different than use and presentation and that there are certain crimes where the mere possession during the crime warrants a separate and distinct offense.

Sen. Azinger asked whether the use would equal possession under the new offense. The answer was no, it is separate and distinct offense.

Sen. Maynard asked whether a concealed carry permit would obviate the new crime of possession during the commission of certain felonies. The answer was no.

Sen. Woelfel responded to concerns by some members of the committee that the 2nd Amendment rights to possess might be implicated by the new offense. He suggested that when someone is committing a felony their right to bear arms is waived and went on to challenge anyone who believes the 2nd Amendment protects violent felonies to debate the issue.

Sen. Weld spoke in favor of the amended bill, arguing that the presence of a weapon is likely to escalate a situation where the person is committing a felony. He said it increases the likelihood that someone is injured or killed. The bill is intended to decrease the likelihood of gun violence.

The bill committee voted to pass the bill and it now goes before the full Senate.


Medical Cannabis


Com. Sub. for S. B. 231 – Relating generally to medical cannabis.The bill updates the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act by increasing the geographic locations of dispensaries and the forms of acceptable medical cannabis. The bill makes other necessary technical and administrative changes, including clarifying that the Tax Division of the Department of Revenue, along with the Bureau of Public Health, will monitor the price of medical cannabis, and applies the provisions of the West Virginia Tax Crimes and Penalties Act and the West Virginia Tax Procedure and Administration Act to the medical cannabis tax.

Additionally, the bill creates a “Compassion certificate” which is a temporary certification issued by a practitioner for patients and caregivers to grow, possess, use, or give away cannabis without remuneration for the purpose of obtaining access to medical cannabis. A compassion certificate authorizes a patient or caregiver to lawfully grow no more than 12 mature flowering cannabis plants and up to 12 cannabis seedlings at any one time, and authorizes each patient to possess no more than four ounces of dry flower or leaf medical cannabis per patient.

The bill removes current prohibitions on smoking medical cannabis, incorporating or selling it in edible form and growing it unless authorized as a health care medical cannabis organization under article thirteen of this chapter. It also removes the prohibition on dispensing medical cannabis unless the dispensary has received a permit from the bureau under this act. The bill also removes the $10,000 permit fee for each location.

The bill authorizes the commissioner to enter into reciprocity agreements with any state that has comparable requirements for medical cannabis patients and caregivers to possess, transport, use, and transfer without remuneration medical cannabis in this and any other such approved state.

It removes the current requirement that before a permit is issued there must be the written approval of the board of health in the county where the permit is to be located.

The bill creates a new requirement that any person employed by a medical cannabis organization involved in the growing, processing, or dispensing of medical cannabis must be 18 years of age or older and registered with the bureau.

Dispensaries may not be located within 1,000 feet of public, private, or parochial school or a daycare center, by providing the measurement must be from front door to front door, along the street or streets.

Jason Frame, Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, commented on the bill, noting that he only got access to the committee substitute several minutes before the committee meeting. He said that at least two issues addressed by the bill have already been addressed by prior legislation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, and it now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.


Sine Die