From The Well

Legislation is moving


At the center of the West Virginia state Capitol is an area known as The Well.

It is the informal gathering place for lobbyists, reporters, constituents and lawmakers.

Centrally located between the chambers of the House of Delegates and Senate,

The Well is often where information is shared, alliances are formed, and deals are made.



Governor’s Office



Optimism dominates published remarks


Suffering from Covid that prevented him from delivering the State-of-the-State Address on Wednesday, Jan. 12, Gov. Jim Justice offered an optimistic view of West Virginia and its economy in his published remarks.


The Governor’s Office said the second-term chief executive is recovering at his Lewisburg home.


Click here for news coverage. Click here for the Governor’s remarks. Click here for his Budget Bill.


“We have proved that the rocket ship ride I promised the people of West Virginia is real,” Justice wrote.


“We have set records with our revenue growth. Our employment numbers are the best they have been in state history. Tourism in West Virginia is exploding — every travel publication says our state is the place to be. And we have accomplished all this while responding to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.”






Senators approve 18 bills on first day


The West Virginia Senate passed 18 bills on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Legislation included:


SB 8: Relating generally to state’s savings and investment programs (House Government Organization)


SB 9: Providing continued eligibility for developmental disability services to dependents of military members (Pending House introduction)


SB 22: Relating to exempting certain organizations from property taxation (Pending House introduction)


SB 40: Prohibiting insurance coverage from requiring prior authorization for tests to stage cancer (Pending House introduction)


SB 121: Prohibiting person criminally responsible for another’s death to participate in burial arrangements (Pending House introduction)


SB 129: Making it unlawful for public utility to prohibit customers from hiring contractors to construct, install, or maintain connections to public utility (Pending House introduction)


SB 135: Relating to acquisition and disposition of property by urban development authority (Pending House introduction)


SB 141: Modifying requirement that racetrack participate in WV Thoroughbred Development Fund by certain date (Pending House introduction)


SB 170: Providing WV veterans discounts on fees and charges at state parks (Pending House introduction)


SB 172: Increasing compensation of elected county officials (Pending House introduction)


SB 191: Allowing poll workers to work full and half days (Pending House introduction)


SB 228: Providing tuition and fee waivers at state higher education institutions for volunteers who have completed service in AmeriCorps programs in WV (Pending House introduction)



House of Delegates



Lawmakers move with deliberation


The opening day of the second regular session of the 85th Legislature was relatively low key and brief in the House of Delegates.


The House acknowledged on Wednesday that Gov. Jim Justice has Covid and had canceled the State-of-the-State address, which normally occurs in the House chamber on the evening of the first day of the session.


On Wednesday evening, the House heard its clerk read a message from the Governor. It referred the Governor’s Budget Bill to the Committee on Finance.


In the House, items of business included adoption of a resolution to create a new Select Committee on Corrections, a clarification of House Rule 138 to specify that media credentials are provided only to published journalists, and the introduction of new bills beginning with HB 4004.


The House automatically carries over bills from the previous year. They also were introduced.



Absences mount; members meet briefly


The House met briefly on Thursday and then adjourned until 9 a.m. on Friday. Click here for more information.


Several delegates were absent from the floor session, most noticeably Speaker Roger Hanshaw. House members said he was not feeling well and stayed away from the Capitol.


Majority Leader Amy Summers said he had tested negative for Covid but was being cautious. She announced that members had rapid Covid tests at their desks and encouraged them to use them. She suggested they should not return to the Capitol Friday if they do not feel well.



Committee discusses abortion bill


The House Health & Human Resources Committee met for two hours Thursday to discuss four bills, but the focus was on abortion.


Delegates took time to discuss HB 4004, which would add a new article to Chapter 16, limiting abortion to 15 weeks of gestation with the exceptions of a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality. The medical emergency is described as any condition that could cause death or severe impairment.


The bill specifically excludes any medical emergency caused by psychological or emotional conditions. Severe abnormality of the fetus is described as being incompatible with life outside the womb. Penalties are set forth for licensed medical professionals who violate the code, including loss of license and criminal sanctions.


Delegate Barbara Fleischauer said Roe vs. Wade is the law, and the proposed bill is a limitation of that law. She also pointed out that the bill could be an invitation for litigation toward licensed medical professionals. Counsel agreed that it could create a cause of action.

The committee passed an amendment that changes the term physician to licensed medical professional and clarifies that it is not considered abortion if a fetus dies of natural causes.


Delegate Lisa Zuckoff questioned the medical emergency of a pregnant woman contemplating suicide due to pregnancy, possibly one caused by rape or incest. Counsel responded that the situation would not count as a medical emergency under the bill. An amendment to include psychological and emotional conditions in the definition of medical emergency was proposed.


Delegate Danielle Walker called witness Ash Orr, who told a personal story about a high-risk pregnancy and a decline in both mental and physical health, all at age 22 while in college.


“I wouldn’t be here today” without the ability to obtain a 16-week abortion, Orr said.


Delegate Walker then called on the Rev. Emily Harden to describe her experiences with abortion as a hospital chaplain. She said she often counsels patients who want to have an abortion even for wanted pregnancies and often after emergency circumstances.


“I am a proudly pro-choice faith leader,” she said, noting she provides support, grace, and hope.

“We have 7,000 kids in foster care, so one of my concerns is unwanted children in West Virginia,” Delegate Fleishauer said.


Delegate Amy Summers responded by asking her, “Are unwanted babies better off dead?”


Delegate Fleischauer explained the action would compel people to have babies they don’t want, forcing them to bear a child against their will and adding to the psychological trauma, which could include drinking and drug use. The amendment to add psychological and emotional conditions to the definition of medical emergency failed.


Another amendment was rejected to change the word “woman” to “patient” throughout the bill so it would be consistent with other parts of code.


An amendment to add rape and incest to the exceptions in the bill was proposed, with Delegate Danielle Walker telling the committee, “I am a rape survivor. It took me almost 20 years to claim to be a rape survivor. This is for the person who can’t talk to anyone but their physician.”


Delegate Fleischauer said the two exceptions are in laws in many states and would put West Virginia in the mainstream by adding the amendment, but it failed. Another amendment to take the harsh criminal penalties out of the bill was rejected.


Delegate Mike Pushkin told the committee, “I’m very uncomfortable making this decision for somebody else. In most cases, something has happened. I’m sorry we spent our first day in committee on this subject.”


While there were almost no comments in favor of the bill, it passed easily on a voice vote.


The committee passed strike and insert language for HB 4005 that adds a new section relating to fetal body parts and defining terms. It prohibits the sale of fetal body parts resulting from an induced abortion and the transport of fetal body parts except for final lawful disposition. Delegate Walker added that federal law already prohibits the sale of fetal tissue across state lines.


The committee passed the first two bills passed quickly. They are:


Committee substitute for HB 4059 clarifies that employees who directly report to a commissioner within the Department of Health and Human Resources are not eligible for classified exempt service. The committee substitute clarified that it is the Commissioner’s decision to hire deputies from civil service or not.


HB 4060 repealed outdated sections that created coalitions for diabetes management, responsible pain management, and palliative care. The coalitions have fulfilled their responsibilities and their statutes have expired.






Governor asks Guard to help hospitals


With Covid hospitalization numbers increasing, Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday directed the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) and his Covid-19 team to review and approve requests from West Virginia hospitals for additional staffing from the West Virginia National Guard.


JIATF will coordinate the effort, the Governor’s Office said.


“From the very beginning of this pandemic, I have been committed to protecting our hospital systems, which are already struggling with staffing shortages due to the current Covid-19 surge,” Gov. Justice said in a news release.


“We must keep our hospitals operating fully,” Gov. Justice said. “I firmly believe that by reassigning our valued Guard members to this mission, West Virginia’s hospitals can get back up to capacity to care for our residents.”


The Governor’s Office said it received requests from Charleston Area Medical Center and Grafton City Hospital. The JIATF will work with those hospitals to offer assistance, the Governor’s Office said.






Senate President wants to lift nuclear ban 


Senate President Craig Blair supports lifting the state’s ban on nuclear power generation, and legislation is in the pipeline this session to make that happen. Click here for more information.


On Tuesday, two interim committees – Government Operations and Government Organization – got an overview of the current state of nuclear power.


Marcus Nichol, Director of New Reactors for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said advanced reactors that are in development are nothing like existing technology prevalent at nuclear plants across the country.


Those plants, he said, employ light-water-cooled reactors that generate 1,000 megawatts of baseload power. New technology offers a wide portfolio of products of different sizes, and more than 50 companies are exploring the field, he said.



Legislative Language



Check out this handy glossary


Chambers: the two areas set aside for meetings of the entire membership of the House and Senate (also referred to as “the floor”). “The bill is on the floor” means it is out of committee and before the entire body of the House or Senate.


Christmas Tree: a bill that has had several amendments added to it. “We had to kill the bill because it got Christmas treed.” (It also described as “loving a bill to death.”)


Committee Substitute: an amended version of an introduced bill as recommended by a committee, generally offered when there are numerous amendments or substantial rewriting of an introduced bill (often referred to as a “com sub”).


Concur: the action of one body in agreeing to or approving a proposal or action of the other body (as in “the Senate concurs with the House amendments”).


Double Referenced: a bill is assigned to two committees instead of just one (a bill can also be triple referenced)


Enrolled Bill: the final version of a bill, as passed by both bodies.


House of Origin: the body in which a bill or resolution is introduced.


Journal: the formal, written record of floor proceedings printed daily by the clerk of each body. The Journal also contains that day’s agenda for the floor session and is available on the legislative website.


Motion to Lie Over: consider the bill at the next or a subsequent meeting.


Motion to Postpone Indefinitely: delay action, usually forever. “PPI’d” usually indicates a dead bill.


Readings: the three stages a bill must go through on the floor of a chamber; 1st reading is informational; 2nd reading is amendment stage; and 3rd reading is passage stage


The Well: The round area at the center of the Capitol between the chambers. It often is used as a meeting place, as in “Meet me at the well.”



Title: a concise statement of the contents of a bill; it is a constitutional requirement in West Virginia that the title accurately and completely reflect the content of the bill.


SB or HB: Senate Bill or House Bill.



SR or HR: Senate or House Resolution.


SCR or HCR: Senate or House Concurrent Resolution.


SJR or HJR: Senate or House Joint Resolution (Proposed Constitutional Amendments).



Legislative Calendar




Click here for the full calendar

of the West Virginia Legislature.



WV Legislature
Legislature Live


Meeting Notices
Proposed Rules


Legislative Wrap-up
Glossary of Terms


Some information in this update is collected from the WV Legislature’s Daily/Weekly Blogs.



Hartman Harman Cosco, Public Policy Strategists, LLC, (H2C) is a strategically assembled bipartisan lobbying firm comprised of legal, communications and policy professionals. H2C possesses the insight and intuition that only comes from decades of hands on experience leading community and statewide initiatives.


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