From The Well

Day 16


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.



State of the State



Governor stresses economic successes


Acknowledging he was in the House of Delegates chamber 15 days later than he had planned, Governor Jim Justice on Thursday evening presented an optimistic picture of the West Virginia economy and what he described as the prudent management of government.


The second-term Governor’s speech was his sixth State-of-State Address.


Click here to read WVMetroNews’ coverage.






Senate OKs bill to oppose bank boycotts


The state Senate voted 31-2 Thursday for Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for SB262, which authorizes the state Treasurer to restrict state banking contracts with financial institutions engaged in boycotts of energy companies.


Senator Eric Nelson of Kanawha County expressed concerns about the Treasurer adhering to the requirements of the bill and negative financial impact on the state. He also said he is concerned about the amount of discretion given to the Treasurer. He said he would vote against the bill.


Senator Owens Brown of Ohio County said he is not against coal but against bad laws and policies. The bill involves itself in private business, he said, adding he opposed the bill.

Senator Glenn Jeffries of Putnam County asked Chairman Eric J. Tarr of Putnam County about the potential impact on other state agencies, particularly those associated with economic development. He also asked about the impact on political subdivisions.


The Chairman indicated the bill also impacts contracts with the Treasurer.

Senator Rupie Phillips of Logan County argued that this “a line in a sand” and takes a stand against corporations controlling how West Virginians live. He said a vote against the bill is a vote against those who work in the fossil-fuel industry.


Senator Mike Caputo of Marion County expressed support for the bill despite his concerns about its constitutionality.


Chairman Tarr said he is comfortable the Treasurer will ferret banks that are harming West Virginia and its citizens.


Click here for WVMetroNews coverage.



Legislature focuses on rare-earth minerals


The Legislature is considering bills to promote West Virginia production of the rare-earth elements that are essential parts of high-tech devices.


Click here to read coverage from WVMetroNews.


The House Energy and Manufacturing Committee passed two related bills Thursday afternoon. They now will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee.


HB4003 is meant to encourage exploration and capitalization of West Virginia’s potential for recovering valuable rare earth elements and other critical materials from mine drainage.






Parkways plans to replace 3 plazas


The West Virginia Parkways Authority, experiencing steady revenue during the Covid pandemic, is preparing to replace three toll plazas along the highway, Parkways Executive Director Jeffrey A. Miller told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.


Director Miller said the Authority is working on the plaza projects with Areas USA Inc., an international company that operates travel plazas across the country and also has a presence in airports. He said the projects will cost $70 million.


“We’ve had our first meeting with them upon the approval of the RFP,” Director Miller said. “We’re in the process of beginning lease agreements with them, and that will be effective Feb. 1 of 2023.


“The plan will be to do the replacements of the Beckley and Bluestone plazas at the same time while Morton remains open. And then after those are completed, Morton will be done as well.”


Director Miller provided an optimistic report on Parkways Authority finances, saying it relies heavily on commercial and out-of-state traffic for revenue, which was $160.6 million last year. Parkways has seen a decline in passenger vehicle traffic during the pandemic but an increase of commercial traffic, he said.



Health and Human Resources



Panel weighs bill to help recruit physicians


The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee reviewed a legislative finding Thursday that determined West Virginia suffers from a lack of practicing physicians. The finding is the basis for SB120, which creates a tax credit for certain physicians to locate in this state to practice.


“This creates a crisis in the delivery of health care services to one of the unhealthiest populations in the nation,” the report said. “As a state, we need to seek ways to attract qualified physicians to locate here to provide our citizens necessary health care services and to promote the general good health of this state.”


SB120 provides criteria, establishes education requirements, and sets a time limit to claim the tax credit and the length of residency requirements.


Senator Tom Takubo, a physician, took exception with the fiscal note that stated the tax credit would result in a loss of tax revenue of $9 million based on the number of graduates from West Virginia medical schools.


“The vast majority of physicians don’t stay,” Senator Takubo said.


Senator Ron Stollings, also a physician, concurred, saying only one in five students who complete a residency in West Virginia stay in the state.


“This is a great recruiting tool,” Senator Stollings said of the bill. “We have to have tools in the toolbox to replace physicians my age when the time comes.”


Senator Takubo said the tax credit will come back to the state in the form of property taxes and money spent in West Virginia.


The bill passed but will also go to Finance.


Committee passes anti-smoking legislation


SB139 adds a new section, designated §16-9A-11, to prohibit smoking of tobacco products in a motor vehicle while an individual 16 years of age or younger is present.


Senator Robert Karnes of Randolph County on Thursday objected to the bill on the grounds of it infringing on constitutional rights.


Senator Mike Azinger of Wood County added: “I have a God-given right to be sovereign over my children. This is the state interjecting itself as the parental authority.”


Senator Tom Takubo, lead sponsor, said the premise of the bill came from a patient who lost half her lung function but never smoked. Her father was a three-pack-a-day smoker, and she had no way to escape the smoke in the car.


“Smoking is the number one single preventable cause of death in the U.S.,” Senator Takubo said.


In response to individual and constitutional freedoms, Takubo said: “My freedom stops when it bleeds over onto your freedom,” emphasizing that the parent is harming the child who is trapped in a confined space.


Senator Azinger asked Senator Takubo, a pulmonologist, if the science on secondhand smoke is 100% accurate. He compared it to the science of wearing masks.


Takubo responded that it is in hundreds of well-documented studies.


After a lively discussion, the bill passed and will go to Judiciary.


Bill addresses health care decisions


The last health-related bill for the committee was SB470, relating to health care decisions

Forms for a living will, medical power of attorney, and combined medical power of attorney and living will are revised.


Language is added regarding the effect of signing a living will on the availability of medically administered food and fluids and requiring oral food and fluids to be provided as desired and tolerated.

Reciprocity with other states for forms is provided.


Mary Tillman, Vice President of West Virginians for Life, said the bill updates several references and removes “persistent vegetative state” from code. She said neurological studies have shown those patients may have a minimal level of consciousness, and there are new treatments. She emphasized that one sentence added to the code was important: “Life prolonging intervention includes CPR, dialysis, breathing machines, and food and fluids.”


Danielle Funk Sollenberger from the West Virginia Center for End of Life Care said all the forms were voluntary and don’t go into effect until the person can no longer speak for himself or herself.


“This bill is beneficial to protect autonomy for patients and reduce confusion for providers,” Ms. Sollenberger said.


She told the committee that forms can be sent to the registry at the Center for End of Life Care, which makes them available from its data base. The bill passed and will go to Judiciary.


Bill supports higher pay for Bureau attorneys


The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee passed a short bill Thursday that would increase minimum salaries for Bureau for Child Support Enforcement attorneys from $45,000 to $75,000 per year. The bill will also go to the Finance Committee.


Bill reduces size of Board of Medicine


Passage of Committee Substitute for SB138 would reduce the composition of the West Virginia Board of Medicine by one member. In conformity with the proportionality principles, one of the two podiatric physician members is eliminated.






Are states ready for Rescue Plan windfall?


The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) includes hundreds of billions of dollars, and broadband projects are an allowed use.


Grants will start flowing from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in 2023, and states have much to do in 2022 to be ready to get in line for them. How should they handle such a monumental task?


Clear here to read Carl Smith and Jake Blumgart‘s perspectives in Governing magazine.



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.






Hartman Harman Cosco, LLC | H2C Strategies | 1412 Kanawha Blvd., East , Charleston, WV 25301
Update Profile | Constant Contact Data Notice
Sent by scott@h2cstrategies.compowered by
Try email marketing for free today!