From The Well

Day 27


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



Senators want answers about DHHR


West Virginia senators are concerned about an agency that deals with some of the state’s most pervasive problems, and they are calling for special attention from a committee that represents top legislative leaders.


Members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed to send up a flare after hearing from the cabinet secretary for the Department of Health and Human Resources.


A letter by Senator Eric Tarr of Putnam County asks for the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to examine several concerns: out-of-state placement of foster children; the agency’s use of contract nurses; the condition of forensic group homes; and the slow pace of computer upgrades that could help the agency improve its efficiency.


Click here to read more.



Analysis: CON changes may not be dead yet


A bill repealing the state’s certificate of need (CON) for health care providers not only made it to a committee agenda last week, it received a lengthy debate before being voted down 12-10.


Had the bill made it to the House floor, it possibly could have passed.


A new bill might be offered to create a CON repeal pilot project, perhaps aimed at the northern and eastern panhandles. It sounds as if lawmakers understand the CON process probably needs reform.


Click here to read more from reporter Steven Allen Adams.



Covid claims Corrections officer; cases fall


State officials announced Monday the fourth Covid-related death of a state correctional officer while noting an overall decline in cases in West Virginia.


Governor Jim Justice said Western Regional Jail Corporal Christopher Scarberry, 31, died Sunday. He had been hospitalized with Covid since December and had worked for Corrections since 2018.


Meanwhile, Dr. Clay Marsh said active Covid cases continue to drop along with hospitalizations. Active cases were approaching 10,000 Monday, and hospitalizations were below 1,000 for a second straight day.


Marsh said the best way to keep the numbers down is for residents to be vaccinated and boosted. He said 52% of eligible state residents over 50 have had a booster shot. Marsh said that number increases to 58% for those over 65.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.






Senate considers changing jobless benefits


The state Senate is on the verge of passing two bills that would make major changes to the unemployment safety net in West Virginia.


Senate President Craig Blair feels so strongly about the bills that he came down from his usual spot presiding over the chamber Monday to make a half-hour speech in favor of policy changes.


Senators advanced the two bills toward passage with the ability to offer amendments. SB2 and SB3 could pass as soon as Tuesday, although there were some discussions of providing a little more time to consider possible changes.


Click here to read WVMetroNews coverage.






House again considers changes in income tax


Proposals to cut West Virginia’s personal income tax dominated last year’s regular legislative session, but no one could exactly agree on how to structure the cut.


House Finance Chairman Eric Householder of Berkeley County is giving the income tax cut another try. He is the lead sponsor of HB4007, which would prompt an initial 10 percent cut for each bracket while also establishing a savings fund for possible future cuts.


That plan is different from what Governor Jim Justice proposed last year, which was a more dramatic elimination of the personal income tax offset by proposed offsetting increases of other areas, such as the sales tax. Delegates voted down that proposal near the end of last year’s regular legislative session.


Click here to read more.



Technology and Infrastructure



Bill authorizes improving 911 system


The House Technology and Infrastructure committee voted Monday to pass HB4282, which instructs the Legislature to study and prepare for implementation of Next Generation 911 systems so West Virginia can move to that platform.


Because most 911 systems originally were built using analog rather than digital technologies, public safety answering points (PSAPs) across the country need upgrade to a digital or Internet Protocol (IP)-based 911 system, commonly referred to as Next Generation 911 (NG911)*.


The legislation requires an 11-member commission to make recommendation to the Governor. Members of the committee will include two members of the Senate, appointed by the President; two members of the House of Delegates, appointed by the Speaker; Chair of the Public Service Commission; Chief Technology Officer from the West Virginia Office of Technology; Chairperson of the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing or designee; two representatives from PSAPs appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate from a list of 12 names put forth by the County Commission Association; and two county government representatives familiar with county purchasing and finances who are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate from a list of 12 names selected by the County Commission Association.


In addition, the Governor also will appoint non-voting members, who consist of one representative from the broadband industry offering service in the state; one representative from a local exchange carrier offering service within West Virginia; one representative from the wireless communications industry offering service within West Virginia; and one representative from the mission critical communications industry offering service within West Virginia.


HB4282 now goes to the House Committee on Government Organization for consideration.


Footnote: *Information provided by , which is a National 911 Program providing federal leadership and coordination in supporting optimal 911 services across the nation.






Secretary: Increased marketing paying off


Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby on Monday described the benefits of the West Virginia Department of Tourism’s almost three-fold budget increase.


She told the Senate Finance Commitee that her agency invested extra money in tourism and helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Losses were not as great as the national average, she said, and West Virginia has bounced back more quickly than other states.


While visitation and revenue are still down for indoor destinations like museums and meeting spaces, outdoor tourism has increased, she said.


Secretary Ruby said money invested in advertising tourism has a direct impact on reinforcing a positive image of the state, which results in an incalculable return on investment.


In other business, the Senate Finance committee passed SB517 and SB525, which deal with lottery surplus and lottery excess funds. If passed by the full Senate and House, the bills move those dollars into the General Revenue fund.



Public Education



Senate bill targets school compliance


A bill before the Legislature would allow the state superintendent of schools to take state money from county boards of education if they do not follow the state board or superintendent’s instructions.


Senator Patricia Rucker of Jefferson County, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, sponsored SB227.


Click here to read more.


The bill says the state superintendent may issue orders to county boards of education requiring specific compliance with his or her instructions.


“If a county board fails or refuses to comply, the state superintendent may proceed to enforce his or her order by any appropriate remedy, including, but not limited to, initiating legal action in any court of competent jurisdiction,” the bill says.



Identification Access



House panel contemplates ID documents


The House Judiciary Committee on Monday passed a strike-and-insert amendment for HB2160, which involves issuing identification documents to homeless individuals residing at homeless shelters.


Testimony indicated the bill is not intended to alter access to photo IDs and doesn’t void or alter any law allowing a person who is a legal resident or legal resident alien to access an ID card as if they had a home or fixed residence.


Delegate Mike Pushkin of Kanawha County said he wanted to be sure the legislation doesn’t make obtaining an ID any harder than it is.


Counsel for the Judiciary Committee said an ID applicant’s mailing address can be a homeless shelter, and a homeless service agency should encompass drop-in shelters.


Adam Holley, General Counsel for the Division of Motor Vehicles, said DMV must prove an applicant’s lawful residence in the U.S. before the agency issues an ID card. Proof of residency also is required.

He said shelters can fill out affidavits of residency for ID applicants.


Delegate Tom Fast of Fayette County asked whether possessing a photo ID makes its owner eligible to vote. Testimony indicated DMV doesn’t give photo IDs to illegal residents. Many people get photo ID cards because they don’t have a driver’s license.


“It would be quite a stretch to think someone from another country would come here and live on the

streets just to vote here,” Delegate Pushkin said.


The House Judiciary took two bills off the agenda: HB4372 and HB4329.



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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