From The Well

Day 14


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.






Senate approves nuclear ban repeal bill


The West Virginia Senate on Tuesday passed SB4, which reverses the state’s ban on nuclear power generation. The vote was 24-7


Senator Mike Romano of Harrison County indicated he does not have a concern about the safety of nuclear power, but he is concerned the state has no regulatory oversight. Consequently, he said he was unable to vote for the bill.


Senator Tom Takubo of Kanawha County spoke in support of the legislation and indicated he understands the bill simply opens the door to nuclear power. He said the state has time to develop a regulatory framework should someone have an interest in developing nuclear power.


Senator Chandler Swope of Mercer County said the Public Service Commission has the authority over electric generation and state code still contains provisions related to nuclear waste disposal.


Senator Robert Karnes of Randolph County said the federal government has regulatory authority over nuclear power generation.


Senator Robert D Beach of Monongalia County said surrounding states do not have nuclear facilities. He said he would vote no because of his concern for safety and national security.


Click here for Washington Post coverage.






Bill addresses eating disorders, self harm


The House of Delegates passed legislation Tuesday that directs public schools to help students overcome eating disorders and self-harm behavior. The vote was 93-0.


Committee Substitute for HB4074 is known as Meghan’s Law, named for the daughter of Delegate Wayne Clark of Jefferson County. Delegate Clark’s written statement, presented by Delegate Paul Espinoso of Jefferson County, described the Clark family’s experience with the Delegate’s daughter’s eating disorder.


The Delegate’s commentary said a school coach told the child she was overweight, and the student then adopted destructive eating behavior.


Several delegates spoke passionately about the need for public schools to teach educators to identify and assist students who suffer from eating disorders and self-harm behavior.



House approves public health reforms


The House of Delegates on Tuesday passed legislation designed to improve the state’s public health system.


Committee Substitute for HB4113 permits the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to appoint advisory councils and propose legislative rules. It also empowers the commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health to establish a Center for Local Public Health.


Delegates said the new structure would not cost additional funds.


Delegate Amy Summers of Taylor County said the legislation is the result of year-long discussions.


Proponents said the legislation will bring standardization in communications and information among local health departments and the state. They noted the Covid pandemic disclosed weaknesses within the state’s public health system. The legislation is designed to improve the sharing of information.



Consumer drug price legislation passes


The House of Delegates on Tuesday approved Committee Substitute for HR4112, which is intended to provide consumers a choice for pharmacy services.


The bill limits the ability of pharmacy benefit managers to restrict consumer access to pharmacies through the designation of “specialty drugs.”


Delegates disagreed about whether the legislation would benefit consumers.


Delegate Brandon Steele of Raleigh County said he opposed the bill. He said the bill does not include the state’s public health insurance program, PEIA, because it would result in a greater cost to the state. That means it won’t benefit consumers, he said


Other House members disagreed, saying the legislation will give consumers choices and bring down prices.


The bill passed 81-13.



House committee advances legislation


The House Health & Human Resources Committee on Tuesday passed Committee Substitute for HB4257 to require that a health care facility allow visitation immediately following a procedure in that facility.


The bill passed with no questions or discussion.


Committee Substitute for HB4324 updates collaborative pharmacy practice agreements. It also passed with no questions or discussion.


Committee Substitute for HB4263 also passed, but it elicited a question about the meaning of the phrase “white bagging” that the bill prohibits.


Counsel explained white bagging is “third party managed” and must be controlled.


Delegate Barbara Fleischauer of Monongalia County asked about the origin of the phrase “white bagging.”


Dr. Christa Capehart from the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy explained white bagging refers to medication that is dispensed to the health care provider as opposed to “brown bagging,” where medication is given to the patient who walks it into the provider’s office.


HB2817 passed the House 99-0 in 2021 but was not taken up by the Senate. The purpose of the bill is to create the Donated Drug Repository Program, giving the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy the authority to administer it. The bill sets forth eligible drugs and eligible recipients and prohibits the donation of controlled substances. The bill establishes how the drugs are to be received, handled, stored, dispensed, distributed, and disposed of. It permits a handling fee and relieves participants of liability.


The purpose of HB4340 is to maximize the opportunity to recover anatomical gifts for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research, or education. It authorizes the DHHR to be guardian to make an anatomical gift without a court order and clarifies the duties of a procurement organization with regard to the state medical examiner.


It directs the state medical examiner to cooperate with procurement organizations to maximize the opportunity to recover anatomical gifts and authorizes procurement organizations to conduct a test or examination that is reasonably necessary to evaluate the medical suitability of the body or part for its intended purpose. If a body is subject to criminal investigation, a prosecuting attorney who denies the release of a body or part must consult with the procurement organization about the proposed recovery.


The state’s chief medical examiner is authorized to enter into contracts and agreements with a procurement organization when necessary to facilitate the efficient and economical recovery of anatomical gifts. An amendment was proposed that would require DHHR as legal guardian to make an attempt to notify the most immediate relative. The amendment was reformed to add there also must be an attempt to notify the family of incarcerated individuals.


Susan Stewart, President and CEO of the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), assured the committee the amendment would not negatively affect the bill, and, in reality, it was their practice. She noted West Virginia has two outstanding transplant programs at West Virginia University and Charleston Area Medical Center. She thanked acute care hospitals and the West Virginia Hospital Association for encouraging those relationships.


Ms. Stewart said all recipients on a donor list have gone through rigorous work-ups and entered into a national data base. Once there is a potential donor, all of the information, such as age and weight, is collected. A match is attempted.


“Acute care hospital nurses are heroes,” Ms. Stewart said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”


She said every acute care hospital has to be a donor hospital, but there is much more criteria for a transplant center.


The bill passed unanimously but is second-referenced to the Judiciary Committee.






House committee passes election funding bill


The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed HB4097, a bill requested by the Secretary of State that would prohibit nonpublic funding sources for election administration and related expenses without prior written approval by the State Election Commission.


Donald Kersey, Secretary of State General Counsel, told the committee there had been incidents of private money from national sources offered to counties to cover various expenses during the 2020 election.


Another elections bill requested by the Secretary of State and passed by House Judiciary. HB4299 would prohibit the intentional interference with election processes and create a misdemeanor.


Asked whether such a situation had been an issue, Secretary of State General Counsel Donald Kersey said it had been, mostly in the southern part of the state. He described a specific incident where a group of candidates and interested voters stopped vehicles on a large parking lot outside a school where three precincts were located. In that situation, traffic cones were set up beyond the 100-foot rule in almost a gauntlet fashion on the parking lot.


While those involved were friendly and polite, the Secretary of State’s office received complaints.


“Intimidation is a strongly worded crime, but this did not rise to that level,” Kearsey said.

He said he modeled this bill after those in 13 other states, balancing free speech with intent to harass or obstruct.


“It is very narrowly tailored,” Kersey said.


Similar incidents like were reported in 2018, during a municipal election in 2019, and again in 2020.


Kersey acknowledged the bill is somewhat subjective. He gave an example.


If a candidate or volunteer is on the sidewalk giving out flyers beyond the 100-foot rule, a driver can choose to stop or ignore and drive by, and HB4299 wouldn’t apply. It could apply if the candidate or volunteer actually stopped the vehicle and obstructed the voter, he said.



Natural Resources



Loaded gun bill wins committee approval


The House of Delegates Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved HB4048, which clarifies that persons may lawfully possess loaded rifles and shotguns in their vehicles unless circumstances indicate those persons are attempting to take wildlife.


An officer would have to determine a person was preparing to hunt unlawfully.


The bill passed House Judiciary with no discussion or questions.


On another matter, Lieutenant Colonel David Trader, Deputy Chief of the Department of Natural Resources, told the House Judiciary that HB2631 would allow DNR officers to work off duty, but those situations would be regulated much like the State Police or deputy sheriffs handle those requests, which have to be approved through a chain of command.


The bill passed unanimously.






Panel backs bill restricting inmate records


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed Committee Substitute for SB441 to make confidential any video, incident reports, or other record related to the management of inmates or juveniles at any correctional or juvenile facility.


The bill creates exceptions for viewing such items by the staff of the commissioner, law enforcement, the Fusion Center, and attorneys investigating claims against the division.


Division of Corrections Chief of Staff Brad Douglas told the committee the bill addresses sharing appropriate information to law enforcement but not beyond that.


Senator Mike Romano of Harrison County asked him whether the bill needed more language to prevent further dissemination, but Senators decided limitations in bill were sufficient.



House of Delegates



Several bills gain approval


With Delegate Gary G. Howell of Mineral County serving as Speaker Pro Tempore, the House of Delegates on Tuesday approved several bills.


Speaker Roger Hanshaw was not in the Capitol Tuesday, a House spokeswoman reported. A fire alarm interrupted the 11 a.m. floor session, and the House returned at 2 p.m.


The following bills were among the legislation passed on third reading:


HB2325 – The bill removes the requirement for continuing training for barbers and cosmetologists. The vote was 88-8.


Committee Substitute for HB3220 – Passed 96-0, the bill requires disclosure of information from state agencies, municipalities, counties, or school districts that contract with a state agency for consulting services for lobbying.


Committee Substitute for HB3231 – The bill, approved 81-15, amends the state code to provide that public utilities not be required to pay interest on security deposits held for up to 18 months.


Committee Substitute for 3312 – The House passed the bill 95-1. The purpose of this bill is to provide childcare assistance to essential employees who work in businesses, industries, trades, and services critical to the economy.


Committee Substitute for 4065 – The bill, which passed 95-1, requires the state Board of Education to establish a hunter safety program in public schools outside of class hours. The Division of Natural Resources is to play a role in the program.



Delegates welcome Senator Manchin


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin spoke briefly Tuesday on the floor of the House of Delegates chamber, telling legislators his election to the House in 1982 was the greatest experience in his life.


Greeted with a warm standing applause, the Marion County native said he tells lawmakers and others in Washington that West Virginians work together for the good of the state.


“We have a lot of resources coming to West Virginia because we’ve worked together,” he said.



Media and Government




Where are we now with news coverage?


Some state legislatures have banned reporters from their lawmaking chambers. Given changes in statehouse coverage in recent decades, reporters and politicians have traded one flawed system for another A veteran editor offers his thoughts and opinion about the relationship between media and government today.


Click here to read an opinion piece by Alan Ehrenhalt, former executive editor of Governing, a website that covers state and local government.


Legislative Calendar




Click here

for the full session calendar

of the 85th 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.






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