From The Well

Day 9


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.






Bill opposing fossil-fuel boycotts advances


The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday passed and sent to the full Senate the Committee Substitute for SB262, which allows the state Treasurer to decline to do business with any financial institution that boycotts fossil-fuel companies based on the nature of their business.


Senator Dave Sypolt of Preston County offered an amendment that sought to exclude the duties, actions, and transactions of the Investment Management Board from the legislation. The amendment passed on a voice vote.


Under the bill, which also passed on a voice vote, the Treasurer may compile a list of financial institutions the Treasurer determines to be boycotting fossil-fuel businesses. At his discretion, the Treasurer will update the list annually and publish it on the office’s website.


The list also will be distributed to the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House.


Treasure Riley Moore and Eli Baumwell, Advocacy Director for the ACLU of West Virginia, addressed questions from the committee.


Institutions not meeting the eligibility requirements must receive notice and have the opportunity to prove otherwise or take steps necessary to be granted eligibility and, as a result, be removed from the list.



Fire Departments



Senate bill clarifies management of funds


The Senate Government Organization Committee on Thursday passed SB417, which modifies and tightens allowable expenditures for fire departments that receive distributions from the Municipal Pensions and Fire Protection Fund or the Fire Protection Fund.


The bill expands and clarifies authorized expenditures.


Departments will be authorized to purchase:

·    Nomex hoods or equivalent;

·    The direct costs incurred due to the purchase of land, construction of new facilities, or expansion of current facilities when those costs can be demonstrated by the department to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of fire protection services, as well as maintenance required to support the functionality of physical facilities of the department;

·    Internet and telephone bills that may include cell phones when the cell phone is used for fire department-related work only;

·    Insurance policies, including:

·    life insurance premiums to provide a benefit not to exceed $20,000 for firefighters;

·    accident and sickness insurance premiums that may be offered to cover individual members of a volunteer or part-volunteer fire company; or

·    umbrella policies that contain various types of insurance policies to protect against loss and liability so long as life insurance premiums in the amounts prescribed above and property/casualty insurance are part of any umbrella policy.

·    Food, bottled water, and food-related items, such as disposable plates and utensils, to provide necessary meals and water to a fire company when responding to an emergency and is in no way connected to any fundraising events.


The bill eliminates a requirement that departments must purchase vaccines through the state immunization program or from the lowest-cost vendor available.


The bill also addresses commingling of restricted and unrestricted funds. The bill requires that volunteer or part-volunteer fire companies or departments must have a dedicated bank account for all funds received from the Municipal Pensions and Protection Fund, the Fire Protection Fund, and any other state distribution, including state grant money.


Distributions received from the Municipal Pensions and Protection Fund or the Fire Protection Fund must remain in the bank account dedicated to receiving state funds and be used in accordance with the law. All other moneys, including state grants, must be transferred out of the account used to receive state funds and transferred into another bank account within 60 days of receipt, and such a transfer must be in the exact amount of the deposit.


If any money is received from sources other than the Municipal Pensions and Fire Protection Fund or the Fire Protection Fund and is not transferred to another account within 60 days, the money may be used only in accordance with the law.


The bill came about based on recommendations from the Post-Audit Division of Legislative Services.


A Committee Substitute was presented to the committee, containing only technical drafting changes.


The Committee agreed to the language of the Committee Substitute, and it was then agreed to report it to the full Senate with a recommendation for passage.


Under the original committee reference, however, the bill is to be referred to the Committee on Finance. However, the Committee unanimously approved the Chair’s request to seek a waiver of the second reference to Finance.



Bill corrects Fire Marshal code citation


The Senate Government Organization Committee on Thursday sent legislation to the full Senate that corrects a code citation referring to the authority and jurisdiction of the State Fire Marshal.


The committee agreed to report SB436 to the full Senate with a recommendation for passage.






Bill calls for changes in parole process


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday quickly passed SB437, which relates to granting early discharge to parolees after a minimum of one year on parole and allowing the Commissioner of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation to request early discharge of a parolee.


The bill provides that the Chairperson of the Parole Board rather than the current three-panel board can grant early discharge from parole for a parolee upon review of the request.



Boards and Commissions / Public Safety



Bill allows investigators to have weapons


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed SB427, authorizing investigators for the West Virginia Board of Medicine to carry a concealed weapon while performing their duties.


Senator Mike Caputo of Marion County asked whether there were any incidents that served as the catalyst for the bill.


Mark Spangler, Executive Director of the West Virginia Board of Medicine, responded, saying Board investigators are going into the field to seek out “pill mills” and sometimes deal with dangerous individuals. They also have to serve subpoenas to people in their homes, he said.


The bill provides for a State Police initial firearms course prior to Board investigators carrying a weapon on duty, but the investigators will have no law enforcement or arrest powers.


“This is only to defend themselves, not enforcement,” Spangler said.



Intermediate Court



Bill makes corrections in 2021 legislation


The State Senate on Thursday quickly passed the only bill on third reading, SB244, which makes some corrections to last year’s Intermediate Court of Appeals bill.


The session began with recognition for representatives from the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association who were present for the session.



Daylight Savings Time



House bill proposes end to DST in state


A member of the House of Delegates from Berkeley County introduced legislation Wednesday to eliminate Daylight Savings Time in West Virginia. Read more here.


Read more here.


Ken Reed is lead sponsor of HB4270, which makes Eastern Standard Time the official time of West Virginia.






Secretary trumpets widespread growth


The West Virginia Legislature’s commitment to tourism has led to growth in all areas of the industry in recent years, Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby told the House of Delegates Finance Committee on Wednesday.


Ruby, who presented her agency’s annual budget request to the Committee, thanked the lawmakers for understanding and supporting the potential of tourism as a driver of economic development.


Read more here.


“We have grown in all areas, and that is because of the increased investment you all have made in tourism,” she said. “Thank you all for your commitment.”



Watch on Washington



Punchbowl assesses Senate tug-of-war


U.S. Senate Democrats on Wednesday could not change their body’s procedures to force through elections legislation – a setback to President Biden and his party on what they consider to be a domestic policy priority.


West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin was heavily involved in the fray.


Media outlet Punchbowl wrote about the battle in the Senate. Click here for the report.






Chamber applauds lower unemployment rate


The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Thursday said the state is showing economic strength, posting a record month for unemployment rates.


The unemployment rate for December came in at 3.7% It is the third month in a row the unemployment rate has decreased. Click here to see the news release.


“West Virginia is emerging stronger, and these low employment numbers and strong job growth numbers show that,” Steve Roberts, President of the West Virginia Chamber, said. “The recent accomplishments will continue to push the Mountain State toward a brighter future.”


West Virginia Chamber members are located in every county and employ more than half of the state’s workforce.



Legislative Calendar



Click here for the full calendar

of the West Virginia Legislature.



WV Legislature
Legislature Live


Meeting Notices
Proposed Rules


Legislature Blog
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.


Hartman Harman Cosco, LLC | | 800-346-5127