From The Well

Day 55


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.






New structure considered for department


The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) would have a cabinet secretary over administrative functions, a deputy secretary over health, and a deputy secretary over human resources under changes to an agency restructuring bill being considered by Senators.


On Monday before the Senate Finance Committee, DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said he was perplexed when asked to respond to the concept.


“I’m having a hard time kind of figuring out what an organizational chart would look like,” Secretary Crouch said. “It is totally unique from the standpoint of having a secretary who is not the secretary.”


As passed earlier by Delegates, HB4020 would split the agency into the Department of Health and the Department of Human Resources. Each would have a co-equal cabinet secretary.


A substitute brought up in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday afternoon would provide new twists. As explained by Committee Counsel, this one would split the department into two distinct policy entities.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.



The Anti-Racism Act



House Education Committee advances bill


After more than two hours of contentious discussion, the House Education Committee advanced The Anti-Racism Act, which is a response to national conversations about race, sex, and ethnicity. The vote on SB498 was 17-7.


The House Judiciary Committee is still assigned to review the bill during this final week of West Virginia’s legislative session. The state Senate passed the bill last week.


“There’s nothing that would make me not want to show up for work if this bill becomes law because I teach factual stuff. Even if it teaches about the bad side of slavery, it’s history; we shall not let that die,” said Delegate Todd Longanacre, who teaches at Monroe County Technical Center.


“But I will not teach my kids that America is inherently racist just because of my opinion that it may be. Not going to do that.”


Delegate Sean Hornbuckle of Cabell County said the effects of the bill could chill challenging classroom discussions about race, ethnicity, and sex in society in reaction to public discussions about equality the past few years.


“And so we started to roll these things out, to squelch conversation in the classroom for fear that we might actually have a movement in anti-racism, which is quite ironic in what we’re doing here today,” he said.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.



Campaign Finances



Committee OKs bill changing donation rules


The Senate Judiciary Committee had a spirited discussion Monday on the strike-and-insert for HB4419, which would allow candidate committees and campaign committees to make contributions to affiliated state party executive committees.


The bill increases the current $10,000 limit from candidates’ excess campaign funds to $75,000, which can be given to a state party committee or party caucus. The bill eliminates the $5,000 annual limit for coordinated expenditures.


The biggest difference between the House bill and the strike-and-insert amendment is that none of the changes go into effect until Nov. 9, 2022, after the general election.


Senator Mike Caputo of Marion County said he opposed the bill because of the increase from $10,000 to $75,000, pointing out it’s increased by a multiple of 7.5.


“I’ve been fortunate enough to win 13 straight elections,” Caputo said. “I’ve never heard anyone say we need more money in the election process.”

Caputo followed up by asking his colleagues whether they’ve ever heard any of their constituents say the process needs more money.


“I think the answer is ‘Hell, no,’” Caputo said.


Senator Robert Karnes of Randolph County countered, saying, “By the time we count Biden inflation, it’s a whole lot less than a 7.5 increase.”


Senator Mike Woelfel of Cabell County responded, saying, “In time of war, we shouldn’t throw criticism at the leader of our country.”


The bill passed with very dispirited and barely audible yes and no votes, but no one called for division.



Senate Resolution



President urged to unleash energy


The West Virginia Senate voted Monday to urge President Biden to open federal lease sales onshore and offshore, support critical energy infrastructure, such as KeystoneXL and Mountain Valley pipelines so the United States can benefit from energy produced in West Virginia.


The resolution says West Virginians are currently dealing with the highest inflation in more than 40 years, as well as energy costs rising 29 percent and gasoline surging 50 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


It further states that West Virginia residents deserve access to affordable and reliable energy, whether electricity, natural gas, or transportation fuels, and if the President would act on those issues America’s dependence on Russian oil imports would decrease and the United States could benefit from our state’s ability to safely deliver energy produced in West Virginia while ensuring that American energy companies can access the capital they need to hire American workers.


To read the resolution click here.



Pay Raise



House overwhelmingly approves bill


The House Delegates passed a bill Monday that would provide pay raises for state employees whose wage scales are defined by code.


A bigger raise for troopers across the state was the focus of debate Monday.


SB531 passed the House 97-0 after lengthy discussion.


Other state workers who have been promised a raise will have that pay hike reflected in the broader budget bill to be passed by the end of the legislative session.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.



Autonomous Vehicles



Bill focused on new technology clears panel


Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump of Morgan County concluded after the passage of a strike-and-insert for HB4787 Monday by saying, “Did you ever think you’d see the day where we have a bill on autonomous vehicles?”


The bill adds a new article to create the Fully Autonomous Vehicle Act and describes the various levels of automation.


Current levels include Level 0, 1, or 2, but more technology levels are expected and accounted for in the bill. Level 5 is full automation, and no human is required.



Small Estate Act



Senate panel passes bill to clarify terms


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday passed Committee Substitute for HB4329, which clarifies the definition of an “interested person” for purposes of the West Virginia Small Estate Act that passed in 2021.


A small estate is applicable if all personal property does not exceed $50,000 and real estate value does not exceed $100,000.


Counsel said the current definition of interested person is vague and “varies from time to time.”


Chris Winton, Chair of the State Bar Probate Committee, told the committee that while the Bankers’ Association initiated the bill, the Probate Committee has reviewed it and made some changes.


“As counsel has stated, the definition of interested person has been greatly improved to allow participants in the process to have standing,” Winton explained.


The bill also clarifies that if a will devises that property is to be sold, then it cannot be probated under the small estate act.


Loren Allen, General Counsel for the Bankers Association, said its major issue was to include bankers in the definition of interested party so they would have standing to inform the County Clerk that there are more assets in an estate, and, therefore, it does not qualify as a small estate.



Alcoholic Beverages



Senate Judiciary OKs amended legislation


The Senate Judiciary Committee began its Monday afternoon meeting with the passage of a strike-and-insert amendment for HB4848, relating to nonintoxicating beer, wine, and liquor licenses.


The strike-and-insert amendment reduced the 300-feet rule required under certain conditions that passed the House to 200 feet with an exception that churches, colleges, and universities can waive the rule if they have no objection.


The bill also provided that the markup for bars and clubs would be 115% and 110% for the general public.


Senator Amy Grady of Mason County proposed an amendment to reduce the 115% to 112.5%. The amendment passed 8-6. The strike-and-insert also removes the provision that delivery people must maintain information permanently and caps the convenience fee at $20.


Chairman Charles Trump of Morgan County informed the Committee that the Senate passed SB659 and dealt with the same subject as HB4848. He apologized that the Senate bill crossed to the House without him realizing the House had passed a very similar bill.


After conferring with the House, provisions from SB659 that weren’t already included were incorporated into HB4848.



Municipal B&O Fees



Panel OKs bill defining late payments


The Senate Judiciary Committee concluded its meeting Monday with a strike-and-insert amendment for HB4636, which clarifies when business and occupation taxes owed to a city or municipality are considered to be remitted on time.


Counsel explained that if the payments are late but postmarked on the due date, the payments are considered timely, and no penalty can apply.


If they are postmarked after the due date, they can be considered late payments, and penalties can apply.


The bill passed with no questions or discussion.






Senate Judiciary signs off on legislation


Although the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a strike-and-insert for HB4826 with an 8-6 vote, members asked no questions and had no discussion.


The bill relates to e-sports, allows wagering on e-sports events, defines e-sports events, and includes e-sports events in the definition of sports event or sporting event.


The strike-and-insert defines e-sports in the same manner as used in the industry and in other states.



Air Bag Fraud



Committee delays decision on legislation


The Senate Judiciary Committee had several questions Monday about HB4668, which relates to air bag fraud.


Counsel said current law prohibits the installation of any air bag not approved for the vehicle. The bill addresses knowingly installing or selling a car with counterfeit or nonfunctional air bags.


Because of the number of questions and proposed amendments, the bill was laid over to the Tuesday morning meeting.




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
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!