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 situated between the chambers of the House of Delegates and Senate,

The Well is where information is often shared, alliances are formed, and deals are made.



86th West Virginia Legislature

January 12, 2023



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State of the State



Governor promotes reduction in income tax


During the State-of-the-State Address Wednesday, Governor Jim Justice called for a 50% cut in West Virginia’s personal income tax during the next three years. He said his proposal would lead to “the biggest tax cut in the history of this state.”


Justice suggested the reduction could be 30% the first year and then 10% each of the following two years.


“I hope and pray we will move and move quickly,” the Governor said.


Click here to read coverage from WVMetronews.



Speaker said he sees merit in tax proposal


Following the State-of-the-State Address Wednesday evening, key state leaders weighed in with their thoughts about Governor Jim Justice’s proposed 50% personal income tax cut.

Governor Justice is calling for a 30% reduction in the first year followed by a 10% cut each of the following two years. The overall cut would be close to $1.2 billion in revenue the state currently receives.

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw of Clay County said, going into the speech, the state need not “nibble around the edges” on tax reform.

Calling the Governor’s plan consistent with the House’s thinking, Speaker Hanshaw said, “If we’re going to do a tax cut, we want it to be bold enough to make an impact.”

Senator Glen Jeffries of Putnam County, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Governor’s plan would get a serious look.

“I think it’s something we need to look at based on his plan to do it over a three-year period — it may be workable then,” Senator Jeffries said.

Click here to read WVMetroNews coverage.



Budget includes pay raises for state workers


Governor Jim Justice is calling for a “relatively flat” $4.884 billion budget that includes pay raises for most state employees and some increased financial support for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

“I want to mind the store,” Governor Justice said Wednesday during his State-of-the-State Address.

The budget proposal compares to the current fiscal year’s $4.636 billion budget.

“The governor instructed us to build an essentially flat budget,” Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said, adding the 5.35% increase over last year is well below the rate of inflation.

Click here to read WVMetroNews coverage.



Senate Action



Body suspends rules, advances legislation


The West Virginia Senate suspended rules and passed several bills Wednesday, including legislation related to critical race theory, the Department of Health and Human Resources, and the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

After the expected housekeeping measures during the first day of the 86th West Virginia Legislature, the Senate jumped into a list of bills that failed to gain passage last year. Amid a frenzy of action, senators advanced bills on two highly discussed issues — dividing the DHHR (see below) and addressing PEIA reimbursement rates.

The House of Delegates has 59 days to consider the bills.

Click here to read more from the West Virginia Press Association.



Health & Human Resources



Bill would split DHHR into 3 departments


The West Virginia Senate passed a bill Wednesday to split the state Department of Health and Human Resources into three separate entities.

Senate Bill 126 was among a batch of more than 400 pieces of legislation introduced in the Senate during the first floor session of the 2023 regular session of the Legislature.

The bill would split the DHHR into the Department of Health, the Department of Health Facilities, and the Department of Human Services, according to Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo of Kanawha County.

Click here to read more from WVNews.



Committee reviews assorted legislation


Confidential Child Care Records

The House Health & Human Resources Committee on Thursday took up and passed its first bill of the session with no discussion.

House Bill 2016, relating to confidential childcare records, is second referenced to the Judiciary Committee. The purpose of the bill is to disclose certain information to child-placing agencies and child care facilities to facilitate placement or services to a child.

The legislation was part of a foster care bill that passed the House last year 99-1 but died in the Senate.

Service of Process in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases

The House Health & Human Resources Committee passed a second bill, House Bill 2017, which also was part of last year’s foster care bill that did not pass. Currently, Kanawha and Marion counties require their Child Protective Service workers to serve child-abuse and neglect-case documents; all other counties use the Sheriff for service of process.

The bill would require the Sheriff to serve child-abuse and neglect petitions without additional compensation.

Managed Care Case Coordinator Part of Team

Committee Substitute for House Bill 2018 quickly passed the House Health & Human Resources Committee. It would permit the managed-care case coordinator to attend the Department of Health and Human Resources multidisciplinary team meeting to assist with the treatment process for status offenders or delinquents.

The Committee also recommended the bill be effective from passage.

Creation of All-Payor Claims Database Repealed

House Bill 2029 passed House Health & Human Resources with no discussion. It repeals the establishment of an all-payor claims database that would have been a large system with claims from most health care providers under DHHR.

Providing Support for Families

The only bill to generate discussion during the first meeting of the House Health & Human Resources Committee was House Bill 2002. The bill passed with an amendment and creates a new article related to providing support for families. It is second referenced to the Finance Committee.

The bill would increase the adoption tax credit from $4,000 to $5,000 per qualified child. It provides a new exemption for an unborn child and applies to all adopted children for receiving services regardless of family income. The bill also establishes the Mothers and Babies Pregnancy Support Program.

Delegate Mike Pushkin of Kanawha County asked Counsel whether the bill sets up a public fund that could go to unlicensed and unregulated facilities. Counsel responded affirmatively.

Delegate Danielle Walker of Monongalia County asked for a representative from DHHR, but no one was present to answer questions. She then asked for a representative from a pregnancy health organization. The Director of the West Virginia Pregnancy Center Coalition responded to her questions, saying the state has 33 centers, although only six offer medical services. She also assured Delegate Walker that background checks are required for their volunteers, and they abide by HIPAA laws.

At the meeting’s conclusion. Vice Chair Heather Tully of Nicholas County announced that House Bill 2006, the DHHR reorganization bill, would be taken up on Tuesday. Because of its length, she advised members to review it before the meeting.



Public Safety



2 firefighter-related bills advance


The Senate Government Organization Committee on Thursday took up a proposed committee substitute for Senate Bill 65, which grants fire marshals the authority to assist law-enforcement officers in the execution of their official duties as long as the fire marshal acts under the officer’s request and supervision.

According to Counsel, the proposed change affects only “a conflicting article in a part of the bill that is not really affected by the bill itself.” Overall, the bill affects Saint Albans, Morgantown, Charleston, and Wheeling, all of which have fire marshals.

No questions, amendments, or motions arose. The Vice Chair moved to agree with the committee substitute, and it was reported to the full Senate with a recommendation that it be passed.

The Committee then moved on to a proposed committee substitute for Senate Bill 79, which relates to compensable diseases of certain firefighters covered by workers’ compensation.

Counsel explained the bill as amending an original statute, §23-4-1, which “provides a rebuttable presumption to professional firefighters that develop leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma over the course of their employment, given that three elements are present.”

These elements are (1) that the firefighter was actually employed as a firefighter for two years prior to the onset of the injury, (2) the injury occurred within six months of participating in the act of firefighting, and (3) the person has been actively employed by a fire department for five years in West Virginia, has not used tobacco products in 10 years, and is not over the age of 65.

SB79 adds three conditions to the original list of cancers. They are bladder cancer, mesothelioma, and testicular cancer. Additionally, counsel explained that the amendment to add conditions to SB79 would expire on July 1, 2027, unless approved otherwise by the Legislature.

Senator Chandler Swope of Mercer County asked whether there is scientific evidence that those categories of cancer were more prominent in firefighters than in others. Counsel did not know. However, the rebuttable presumption can be challenged if evidence arises that casts doubt on the applicability of the bill.

Senator Bill Hamilton of Upshur County asked whether the five-year requirement can be the combined total of time spent at multiple departments or whether it had to be five years with one fire department. Counsel believed that the time could be split.

Senator Ryan Weld of Brooke County, sponsor of the bill, said the three new forms of cancer were not originally included because the likelihood of them being seen is lower.

The Committee agreed to the language of the committee substitute, and it was reported to the full Senate under the recommendation that it be passed.






Committee advances 2 school-related bills


The Senate Education Committee approved two measures at its meeting Thursday, one involving the state’s ongoing bus-driver shortage.

Senate Bill 41

Senate Bill 41 establishes a minimum net enrollment of 1,200 students for county boards. The bill’s provisions affect boards of education in Calhoun, Gilmer and Wirt counties, according to Senate Education Chair Amy Grady of Mason County.

Current law establishes a 1,400-student enrollment “floor,” determined by dividing the state’s “lowest county student population density by the county’s actual student population density,” adding that amount to the county’s actual enrollment, and increasing the figure 10%.

Senators Vince Deeds of Greenbrier County and Mike Oliverio of Monongalia County asked whether the 1,200 figure replaces the exiting 1,400 enrollment floor.

Based on response by Senate counsel and Senator Grady, the 1,400 calculation remains, although the bill stipulates “in no event shall the net enrollment be set below 1,200 (students), beginning with the next school year and subsequent years.”

County boards wouldn’t be penalized by the 1,200-student “threshold” in terms of a related school aid formula provision requiring boards to use state school funding to ensure deployment of a specific number of professional instructional personnel or educators who work directly with students.

Senate Bill 56

Senate Bill 56 defines “area of critical need and shortage for substitute bus operators.” The bill would allow retirees (State Teachers Retirement System Code citation) to be employed as substitute bus operators for an unlimited number of days each fiscal year without affecting their monthly retirement benefit.

“Area of critical need and shortage for substitute bus operators,” as defined by SB56, “means that the number of available qualified substitute bus operators in the county who are not retired and are available and willing to accept substitute bus operator assignments is insufficient to meet the projected need for qualified substitute bus operators.”

A county board is required to adopt a policy the state Board of Education must approve to use the bill’s provisions.

Retired bus operators are considered “day-to-day, temporary, part-time employees. The substitutes are not eligible for additional pension or other benefits paid to regularly employed employees and may not accrue seniority” and could continue in the positions until the position is filled with a regularly employed bus operator “fully qualified for the position.”

Senator Grady said most county boards were affected by bus operator shortages.

Senator Mike Oliverio said a Monongalia County Board study showed student behavior — not pay or CDL requirements — was the main factor cited for bus operator shortages. He said the Monongalia County Board suggests bus operators could be hired to work one shift rather than having to be employed to work both morning and evening shifts.

Senator Grady said student behavior is an issue bus operators cite, although she said students who have bus behavioral issues may not exhibit behavioral issues in school.

Senator Oliverio suggested the Legislature study whether county boards could receive funds to secure bus aides to assist with bus discipline.

The Senate Education Committee approved both bills last year, but they died in Senate Finance.



Legislative Language



Here’s a brief glossary for the session


Chambers: the two areas set aside for meetings of the entire membership of the House and Senate (also referred to as “the floor”). “The bill is on the floor” means it is out of committee and before the entire body of the House or Senate.

Christmas Tree: a bill that has had several amendments added. “We had to kill the bill because it got Christmas treed.”

Committee Substitute: an amended version of an introduced bill as recommended by a committee, generally offered when there are numerous amendments or substantial rewriting of an introduced bill (often referred to as a “com sub”).

Concur: the action of one body in agreeing to or approving a proposal or action of the other body (as in “the Senate concurs with the House amendments”)

Double Referenced: a bills is assigned to two committees instead of just one (a bill also can be triple referenced).

Enrolled Bill: the final version of a bill as passed by both bodies.

House of Origin: the body in which a bill or resolution is introduced.

Journal: the formal written record of floor proceedings printed daily by the clerk of each body; the Journal also contains that day’s agenda for the floor session and is available on the legislative website.

Motion to Lie Over: consider the bill at the next or a subsequent meeting.

Motion to Postpone Indefinitely: delay action, usually forever; “PPI’d” usually indicates a dead bill.

Readings: the three stages a bill must go through on the floor of a chamber; first reading is informational; second reading is amendment stage; third reading is passage stage.

Title: a concise statement of the contents of a bill; it is a constitutional requirement in West Virginia that the title accurately and completely reflect the content of the bill.

Well: the round area at the center of the Capitol between the chambers; it often is used as a meeting place, as in “Meet me at the well.”

SB or HB: Senate Bill or House Bill.

SR or HR: Senate or House Resolution.

SCR or HCR: Senate or House Concurrent Resolution.

SJR or HJR: Senate or House Joint Resolution (Proposed Constitutional Amendments).

Com Sub: Committee Substitute.




Footnote for Readers



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






2023 Legislative Session

20th Day — January 30: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)

35th Day — February 14: Last day to introduce bills in the House. House Rule 91a does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

41st Day — February 20: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Senate Rule 14 does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

47th Day — February 26: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

50th Day — March 1: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills.

60th Day —  March 11: Adjournment at midnight.





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Some information in this update is collected from the WV Legislature’s Daily/Weekly Blogs.



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