Governor adds day to session for budget


The Executive Branch issued a proclamation extending the legislative session by one day to work on the budget.

The Senate convened an evening session with considerable debate on HB3300, the House Income Tax bill, SB125, the Senate’s budget bill and HB2022, the House budget bill late into the evening.

The income tax bill narrowly was adopted by a vote of 18-16 after lengthy debate.

The Senate worked its bill and amended it into the House bill. There were a number of amendments to the budget bill, most of which were rejected. However, an amendment that did pass restores most of the budget cuts to West Virginia University, Marshall University and the Educational Broadcasting Authority (WV Public Broadcasting) that were in the previous version of the Senate’s budget.

Under the successful amendment, WVU will be funded at $95.56 million, about $1.5 million less than the appropriation in the governor’s proposed budget, and Marshall would be funded $46.06 million, about $700,000 less than the governor’s plan. The new version of the bill only cuts about $60,000 from Public Broadcasting, rather than all of the funding.

HB2022 passed and will be reported to the House.




Senate Judiciary debated HB2982, which requires 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.

Counsel explained that two physicians testified that the medical protocol contained in the studies were not supported by medical science. And Sen. Romano asked about several courts cases that have found that there is no medical evidence supporting the use of the reversal drug.

Karen Cross, who represents West Virginians for Life, addressed the committee and confirmed that reversing chemically induced abortions is an off-label use of the drug. She countered that the clinical trial discussed earlier in the meeting was halted for reasons other than the introduction of the reversal drug.

Alissa Clements, of Planned Parenthood, shared her concern with the bill is that it will spread inaccurate information and was not drafted with the participation of physicians. Additionally, medical abortions are FDA approved unlike the reversal protocol, and the bill interferes with the physician-patient relationship and is therefore unethical.

There was considerable debate among committee members regarding the merits of the bill with several democrat members speaking in opposition. Interestingly, the two female members of the committee, Sens. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson and Amy Grady, R-Mason, spoke in favor of the bill, saying it gives women the freedom to change their minds.

The committee reported the bill to the full Senate with a recommendation that it do pass.




On this last day to get bills out of committee in order to have three full days for readings on the floor, House Judiciary had a light morning agenda, with one bill & two constitutional amendment resolutions.

The committee began with SB334 that creates new article 63 in chapter 16, relating to needle exchange programs. It establishes a licensure application process for needle exchange programs and creates program requirements. Dr. Kathy Slemp, former commissioner of state public health, responded to questions about the bill from Del. Pushkin regarding Medicaid coverage and harm reduction. Dr. Slemp offered some data, saying that lifetime treatment costs for one patient with HIV are $500,000 and about $120 million treating hepatitis C. One syringe program costs about $100,000.

A delegate asked Dr. Slemp about her degrees and she responded that she has a medical degree and a public health degree from Johns Hopkins. “Do you have an economics degree?” asked the delegate.

An amendment was adopted that would not allow state tax dollars to pay for syringe programs, although the programs are free and do not bill for services. Speaking against the bill, Del. Pushkin stressed, “One goal – the prevention of the spread of disease.”   The amendment passed and the amended bill passed.


Constitutional Amendment Resolutions


SJR 9 was passed by House Judiciary that would put on the ballot the issue of                exempting veterans who are 100 percent disabled from paying ad valorem real property taxes.

Del. Fast moved to amend the resolution to require at least 50% ownership of the property to qualify for exemption and the amendment passed.

House Judiciary also passed strike & insert amendment for SJR 11, imposing term limits on state Constitutional officers. It would prevent any individual from serving in the office of Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture, or Attorney General for more than three consecutive terms. An amendment was made to make this effective now rather than waiting for 12 years. The resolution currently would be effective in January, 2025 and give each current constitutional officer another full 3 terms, taking it out to 2037. The amendment was adopted. Another amendment was offered to change the 3 term limit to 2 terms, consistent with the Governor’s term limit. That amendment failed.

Currently, it is planned that a special election will be held on Saturday, July 24th for all the constitutional amendments that pass the Legislature rather than having them on the ballot in conjunction with the 2022 election. A joint resolution to amend the constitution requires an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the Legislature but only a simply majority on the ballot.




“I’m in a place I’ve never been before in my career. I don’t think. I’m in a spot of disagreement with the Citizens Defense League,” Chairman Trump stated as he relinquished the Chair of Senate Judiciary so he could speak to the strike & insert amendment to HB2694, creating the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”

He discussed how difficult it is to write “anticipatory” legislation for events that haven’t happened yet, since the bill as written is intended to prevent potential federal taking of various types of firearms. He described the original bill as a non-starter for him.

“The idea that we would threaten the very men & women who risk their lives every day for doing their jobs was not something that I could ever have supported at any level,” said Trump, on the provision that law enforcement could be arrested for aiding federal officers. As the bill came to Senate Judiciary, Chairman Trump noted that the most onerous and obnoxious parts of the bill are gone. “The cooperation between local and federal law enforcement has been beneficial to this state,” Trump said. He read part of the legislative findings directly from the bill:

(d) This trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal law enforcement, with the result that firearm owners and community members fear approaching police when they are victims of and/or witnesses to crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all West Virginians, and;

(e) Entangling state and local agencies with federal law enforcement programs diverts already limited resources and blurs the lines of accountability between local, state, and federal governments, and;

“I have to disagree with that. This is not limited to firearms. This isn’t going to work and it’s going to end in disaster,” said Trump with regard to the legislative findings. Trump went on to read through his committee’s strike & insert amendment. The title is changed to the WV 2nd Amendment Preservation & Anti-Federal Commandeering Act.” Chairman Trump went through the findings nearly line by line, completely rewritten from the bill as it came from the House. In closing after a very lengthy and unusual presentation by the Chairman, he said, “The strike & insert is a true federal anti-commandeering law. The House bill is a complete anti-cooperation law.” The strike & insert amendment for HB2694 passed.


Parole Board


Senate Judiciary passed HB2747, which transfers the Parole Board to the Office of Administrative Hearings and increases the number of members of the Parole Board to ten.


Actions, Suits & Liens


Senate Judiciary passed a strike & insert amendment to HB 2997 which adds a defense to the civil penalty imposed for a result of delivery of fuel to a state other than the destination state printed on the shipping document for fuel. Greg Rogers, owner of Precision Delivery Inc.,  a petroleum transportation company, said the industry has changed and most paperwork is now electronic so the code would coincide with current practice. Steve Stockton with the State Tax Dept. pointed out that there are some substantive changes, such as eliminating bulk plants which will be some loss of revenue to the state.




HB2592 – Requiring Counties and Municipalities to hold all local elections during statewide elections was removed from the agenda and the bill was made the subject of a study resolution.


Sine Die