From the Well





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 18, 2023



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Tax Reform



House passes bill; key Senator says ‘no’


The House of Delegates passed an income tax cut bill 95-2 Wednesday and sent it to the Senate, whose Finance Committee Chairman said the legislation has no chance of survival.


House Finance Chairman Vernon Criss of Wood County said the dominant passage vote in that chamber should send a message.


The personal income tax reduction is structured as 30% the first year and then 10%t each of the following two years. The same percentage reductions would be applied to all current tax brackets.


Members of the Republican majority in the Senate have questioned Governor Jim Justice’s administration and the promises it has made about future financial stability.


Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr of Putnam County said the proposal has no chance to pass in the Senate. He said Senators don’t trust the numbers coming from the Justice administration.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.



Emergency Services



Amusement tax considered for funding


The state Senate is considering allowing small counties to support emergency medical services (EMS) and other responders through an amusement tax.


The Government Organization approved Senate Bill 105 on Tuesday. The committee also approved a bill urging State Police to allot troopers by county population.


The tax bill would allow a county to impose a tax of up to 2% of the admission price on any amusement or entertainment offered within a county for the purpose of private profit or gain. Committee Counsel gave the example of ski resorts.


The bill echoes code in place since 1937 that allows municipalities to impose an amusement tax, Counsel said, and prohibits counties from double dipping by imposing a tax inside municipalities that charge one. He gave Morgantown as an example of a city with its own amusement tax.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.



Local Government



House committee OKs ordinance recall bill


The House of Delegates Political Subdivisions Committee held its first meeting of the session Wednesday and passed House Bill 2244 with amendments after a lengthy discussion. The bill would provide a process by which a city may hold an election to recall an ordinance.


The bill, second-referenced to House Judiciary Committee, would allow 15% of voters in the last election to sign a petition calling for a referendum.


Delegate Evan Hansen of Monongalia County pointed out the Mayor of Star City in Monongalia County (who ran unopposed) won with 98 votes, and the proposed bill would allow 15 voters to recall an ordinance.


“That’s just a couple of families,” he said.


The bill was amended to take precedence over city charters that already allow for referendums and to require that referendums be put on the ballots of the next primary or general election rather than on special-election ballots.


According to committee Counsel, the bill would apply to all types of ordinances, and the bill has no time frame or limitation for when those ordinances were passed.


Some expressed concern about bond ordinances, and there was some confusion about whether a referendum could reverse a bond obligation. The bill passed without clarification of that question.


The bill has no limit on how many times the same petition for referendum could be submitted to the municipality to be placed on the ballot should the original initiative fail to receive enough votes.



Senate Judiciary



Bill to expand parole board advances


Meeting Wednesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary approved Senate Bill 172, which would increase the membership of the West Virginia Board of Parole from nine to 13 members.


Members appointed to the board must have at least an undergraduate degree and five or more years of experience in the fields of medicine, psychiatry, psychology, education, the practice of law, social work, mental health, or corrections.


Senator Mike Caputo of Marion County offered an amendment that requested that the Governor recruit mental health professionals when appointing new members. The amendment was adopted.


The Committee recommended a committee substitute to the full Senate for passage, but first the bill must be considered by the Senate Committee on Finance.



Gun Legislation



Senate panel OKs Campus Self-Defense Act


The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday authorizing persons with a current and valid concealed carry permit to carry a concealed pistol on the campus and buildings of a state institution of higher education.


However, Senate Bill 10 allows colleges and universities to regulate persons with concealed carry permits at specific locations on campus, such as a stadium or arena with a capacity of more than 1,000 spectators, a daycare facility on the property of a state institution, and on-campus residence halls except common areas such as lounges, dining areas, and study areas.


Colleges and universities must provide either a secure location for storage in at least one of the institution’s on-campus residence halls or make available an appropriate safe that may be installed in a resident’s room in any of the institution’s on-campus residence halls. An institution may charge a reasonable fee for using secure storage or a safe.


The legislation would be effective July 1, 2024.



Government Organization



Bill seeks to clarify emergency authority


The House Government Organization Committee passed an amended strike-and-insert amendment for Senate Bill 128, which is intended to clarify the authority of the Governor and Legislature to proclaim or declare states of emergency and preparedness.


Counsel said existing law doesn’t define or distinguish between the authority of the Governor and the Legislature


A state of preparedness includes a potential attack on the United States or a potential major emergency and is limited to 30 days. The Governor has the authority to call the Legislature into special session during state of preparedness.


A state of emergency may be declared by the Legislature or the Governor and may last no longer than 60 days unless extended by the Legislature. The Legislature may modify, extend, or end a state of emergency.


The Governor’s powers during a state of emergency are to procure materials and facilities, compel evacuation, and control ingress and egress.


The bill originally suspended or limited sales of alcoholic beverages, explosives, and combustibles during a state of emergency. The Committee approved an amendment from Delegate Kayla Young of Kanawha County to strike the reference to alcoholic beverages.


Delegate Chris Pritt of Kanawha County spoke in support of the bill, saying it “protects the freedom and liberty of all West Virginians.”


Opioid Settlement



Walgreens settles opioid case for $83 million


West Virginia has settled for $83 million with Walgreens for the pharmacy store chain’s role in perpetuating the opioid crisis in the state with the most per-capita overdose deaths, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday.


That brings the total West Virginia dollars brought in from opioid litigation to more than $950 million, according to the Attorney General’s office. The state now has one remaining opioid case to close. A trial with Kroger is set for June.


“We’re all down, one to go,” Morrisey said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”


The settlement resolves a lawsuit that alleged the pharmacy chain failed to maintain effective controls to prevent an oversupply of opioids in the state.


In response, Walgreens officials said the chain has increased patient education on safe opioid use, made the opioid overdose reversal medication Naloxone available in its 9,000 Walgreens pharmacies nationwide, and other measures to abate the drug crisis.


Click here to read more of the Associated Press report from The Wheeling Intelligencer.




Footnote for Readers



Access to some of the stories in From the Well may require a subscription to news outlets. Hartman Cosco Government Relations has no control over the terms and conditions that news outlets set to access 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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