From The Well

Day 23


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.



Health Care



Despite loss, CON foes say policy is doomed


The headline tells the story: House Health votes down West Virginia certificate-of-need repeal while supporters still say ending the law is ‘inevitable’


After nearly five hours of questions, debate and discussion, the House Committee on Health and Human Resources voted down a bill Tuesday that aimed to eliminate West Virginia’s certificate-of-need process.


With three members absent, the final vote was 12-10, with seven Republicans — including Delegate Matthew Rohrbach of Cabell County, a doctor and chairman of House Health — joining Democrats to keep the law.


Bills to eliminate the certificate-of-need process have been introduced in the Legislature annually since at least 2017. Tuesday was the first time one made it onto a committee agenda.


Click here to read the Charleston Gazette-Mail coverage.



Health panel weighs substance-abuse pilot


Committee Substitute for SB419 would establish a pilot project to evaluate the impact of certain post-substance use disorder residential treatments. The pilot project was introduced to be implemented in the counties of Wood, Cabell, and Ohio, but the committee substitute made it statewide.


The bill charges the Department of Health and Human Resources with evaluating the impact that post-discharge planning and the provision of wraparound services have on the outcomes of substance use disorder in three years post-substance use disorder residential treatment.


DHHR will collect the data and report monthly. The Executive Director of the Association of Health MCOs said, “We will be champions of this bill.”


Senator Tom Takubo of Kanawha County proposed an amendment that the bill would be contingent upon maintaining a Bureau of Medical Services waiver.


Parkinson’s Disease


A Senate strike-and-insert amendment for HB4276 would create a Parkinson’s disease registry in a new article, all relating to the collection of data relating to Parkinson’s Disease.


The bill allows West Virginia University to enter into agreements regarding data collection and for maintaining certain records.


George Manahan, Director of the Charleston Parkinson’s Support Group, said the group favors the bill. He said the “dirty little secret” of Parkinson’s is that no one knows how many people are affected because good data is not available.


Currently, four state have registries. If the bill passes, West Virginia, which ranks eighth in Parkinson’s patients, will be the fith state to start a registry. It is a nationwide initiative of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.


Manahan said WVU will establish an advisory committee that will include physicians, representatives from Marshall University, University of Charleston, and others. He pointed out that patients may opt out.


Medical Marijuana


The Senate Health Committee passed two bills and removed SB32 from the agenda. SB32 relates to medical marijuana in edible form.



Foster Care



Company focuses on supporting children


A child welfare agency wants residents to know it’s always looking for new foster parents, especially for older children.


Necco, a multi-state organization with locations in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, provides a wide range of services, including adoption, foster care, mental/behavioral health counseling, and independent and residential living facilities.


Leah Peck, a foster care recruiter with Necco, said, “A lot of these grandparents don’t realize they have these resources, and they take their grandkids because they’re the family. The support is out there, and they don’t have to go three years fighting everything on their own.”


Click here for more coverage from



Government Organization



Tax-funded lobbying scrutinized


The Senate Government Organization Committee considered a strike-and-insert amendment for HB3220, which would impose additional reporting on taxpayer-funded lobbying.


The bill says every state agency, municipality, county, and school district in the state that has contracted with an entity for consulting services beginning July 1, 2022, shall disclose and itemize all lobbying activities, relating to the following:


(1) Contract details, including the effective date of the contract, any applicable extension date, and length of the contract;

(2) Cost of the contract associated with lobbying services, including itemized expenses, such as dinners or events;

(3) A copy of the contract used to hire a firm or individual for lobbying services; and

(4) Disclosure of interested parties for any contract for services that would require a person to register as a lobbyist.






Firefighters wary of cutting B&O tax


Some West Virginia firefighters say emergency services could be in jeopardy if lawmakers pass a bill that slashes business and occupation taxes.


The West Virginia Legislature is considering SB132, which requires cities that have a 1% sales tax to reduce and remove business and occupation taxes within five years.


“It would dramatically affect the fire department,” said South Charleston Fire Chief Virgil White. “If they eliminate the B&O taxes say for South Charleston, that is 40% of the revenue in the city which is several million dollars that we would be losing.”


Click here to read more from WOWK News.



Economic shifts test government leaders


Property taxes don’t contribute the same percentage of government revenue they once did, and public officials are looking at alternatives.


While progressives see property taxes as regressive, local government remains largely dependent on it.

What are the options? How can government adjust to an evolving economy and still meet its responsibilities?


Click here to read more from Governing magazine.






House legislation addresses voting dates


The House of Delegates Political Subdivisions Committee had a lengthy discussion before it passed what committee counsel described as a “very extensive bill.”


HB4353, titled the Voter Turnout Act, would synchronize a variety of elections with the statewide primary and/or general elections. For the most part, all local elections would be held within the regular statewide election cycle with a few specified exceptions.


References to special elections are removed, but a “saving” statement for expiring levies renews or extends them until they can be placed on ballots in the regular election cycle.


The bill specifies that as of July 1, 2022, municipal elections are to be on the regular primary and general statewide cycle; separate precinct books are eliminated.


The county and municipalities are to work to synchronize the county and municipal precincts. Municipalities without a charter can pass an ordinance for a new election day and align municipal elected officials’ terms of office. The municipality may agree to share costs of the municipal election with the county but is not required to.


Delegate Tom Fast of Fayette County asked, “What special elections are still allowed?”

Counsel responded that while the overwhelming majority are eliminated, the bill allowed for a special election to fill a vacancy such as in the office of U.S. Senate or Governor. State bond elections can be a special election in case of a state financial crisis or opportunity. A few municipalities with charters could continue to hold special elections.


School boards no longer would be allowed to call special elections for a levy. Counsel explained that a “special election,” such as a levy, could be held, but it must be on the date of the primary or general election.


Donald Kersey, General Counsel to the Secretary of State, noted some of the challenges with aligning municipal wards and county precincts, noting that, “It’s all over the place.”


He said a precinct that serves an area partly in a municipality and partly out of city limits could have two separate ballots available at the precinct.


“It can be done. It needs good signage and good organization,” he explained.


Asked whether voter turnout would improve, he responded that special elections, typically not aligned with a primary or general election, have much lower turnout.


Delegate John Doyle Jefferson County said he would have to vote no on the bill because of the inability of local government to call a special bond election if needed, and he would like to see that amended in House Judiciary, where the bill is second referenced.



Higher Education



Bill offers more freedom for institutions


A bill to establish a funding formula for the state’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities includes a path that would exempt some schools from the oversight of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.


On Thursday, the state Senate Finance Committee approved a reworked SB550 after initial discussion of the bill earlier in the day.


State Higher Education Chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker has been working with college and university presidents for months on the funding formula.


Click here to read coverage from WVMetroNews.



Universities value innovation, seek niches


West Virginia and Marshall universities presented their budgets to the Senate Finance Committee Thursday and joined in discussions about higher education in the state.


President E. Gordon Gee of WVU and Brad Smith of Marshall said higher education must be innovative, find unique niches, and avoid duplicating efforts. They discussed tuition and fees, state appropriations, the impact of federal funds, and staffing.


The Presidents said higher education must be innovative, find unique niches, and avoid duplicating efforts.


They said their goal is to provide quality education at affordable costs. In addition, they said institutions need to continue to work on student and talent retention.


Discussions also focused on access to health care, impacts of the pandemic, mental health issues generally and resulting from the pandemic. They said they focus on innovation and finding ways to revitalize the economy with new technology and new industry.






House Speaker sees greater energy diversity


A prominent state leader sees energy diversity paving the road to prosperity.


Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw said West Virginia’s transition from coal to green energy is long overdue. Hanshaw pointed to incoming multi-billion-dollar steelmaker Nucor and the company’s minimal to zero carbon footprint, an electric bus factory coming to South Charleston, and lifting the ban on nuclear energy production as examples of the change.


Click here to read coverage from West Virginia Public Broadcasting.



State Revenue



Governor touts robust tax collections


Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that January tax collections came in above projections, and it was the seventh month in a row in West Virginia had topped expectations.


He said the year-to-date tax surplus for the fiscal year topped more than $500 million.

According to data released Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee and an updated revenue estimate published Jan. 12 by the Department of Revenue, January tax collections of $575.3 million came in 31.9 percent above the $438.5 million updated revenue estimate for the month, resulting in approximate $136.8 million surplus for the month.


Click here to read more from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.



Religious Freedom



RFRA introduction prompts disagreement


Senator Mike Woelfel of Cabell County this week criticized HB4015 – known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – calling it a hate bill that encourages discrimination based on sexual preferences.


House Judiciary Chairman Tom Fast of Fayette County introduced the bill early this week. The Legislature seriously considered the legislation in 2016 and rejected it.


Woelfel said legislators should reject the bill if they want to see West Virginia remain competitive in its effort to attract job-creating investment. At least one Senator took the opposite position, saying passing RFRA would attract more investment.


Click here for coverage form the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.



Health Code



Violations reported in WVU dining halls


Health inspectors have found dozens of health code violations in West Virginia University dining halls this academic year, some of them repeat infractions, according to the Daily Athenaeum, the independent WVU student newspaper.


Sodexo, an international corporation headquartered in France, operates and manages the facilities.


Thousands of WVU students eat at the dining halls every day. In one kitchen, inspectors found a freezer at 94 degrees emitting a “very strong odor.” In another, they found “visible mold growth” in a pop machine and oil leaking onto the walls.


Click here to read more from the Daily Athenauem.



Public Education



Classroom aides proposed for some teachers


The House of Delegates is moving a bill that would require schools to provide aides for first- and second-grade classrooms.


The House Education Committee advanced HB4467 on Wednesday afternoon.


The bill also lays out maximum pupil-teacher ratios for early grades.


For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, the cap would be no more than 20 students for each teacher and assistant. For first and second grades, the classroom limit would be no more than 25 students for each teacher and aide. For grades three, four and five, the limit would be no more than 25 students per teacher.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.



Footnote for Readers



Access to some of the stories in From The Well may require a subscription to that news outlet. H2C Public Policy Strategists has no control over the terms and conditions other news outlets set to access their content.



Legislative Calendar




Click here

for the full session calendar

of the 85th West Virginia Legislature.



WV Legislature
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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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