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

February 13, 2023


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Tax Reform


State government leaders weigh proposals


The Governor and House and Senate leaders all still say they want to cut taxes, and they are assessing each other’s plans. 

Senators introduced a tax proposal last week, advocating changes in several sections of the code. The Governor on Monday hosted a roundtable discussion with nationally known advocates for cutting taxes.


The House of Delegates, which overwhelmingly passed Justice’s income tax cut proposal a few weeks ago, is taking a look at the details of the Senate’s plan.


“Between the two houses and the Governor, you’ve got to come to some kind of compromise if you want to get something done, and I think there’s a great opportunity here with what the Senate’s laid out,” House Finance Chairman Vernon Criss of Wood County said on WVMetroNews’ “Talkline.”


“We’ll have that as a starting point. We will probably start negotiating this week in some form or fashion on all points that they have provided along with our 50 percent tax cut that we have put in the mix.”


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.


House Judiciary


Committee OKs bill affecting e-bicycle use


The House of Delegates Committee on the Judiciary on Monday considered and passed House Bill 2062, which updates laws governing electricity-powered bicycles (e-bikes) to more closely align with federal laws. 

Counsel told the Committee that Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes can go everywhere traditional bikes are permitted but nothing more.


Delegate Brandon Steele of Raleigh County amended the committee substitute to allow people under 16 years of age to ride faster than 28 mph on a Class 3 bike.


The bill adds the definition of throttle and regulates where e-bikes may be used. Under the legislation, local authorities may allow Class 3 e-bikes on trails.


The committee substitute now moves to the full House for consideration.


Bill increases parents’ role in youths’ cases


The House of Delegates Committee on the Judiciary recommended passage on Monday of House Bill 2150. 

The bill makes current law related to juveniles adjudicated as status offenders more robust. It explicitly requires the participation of parents or guardians in programs designed for out-of-home placement.


If a juvenile or his or her parent, guardian, or custodian fails to comply, the Department of Health and Human Resources may petition the circuit court for a valid court order to enforce compliance with a service plan or to restrain actions that interfere with or defeat a service plan. The order could include a mandate that parents or guardians participate in programs for the juvenile who is in an out-of-home placement.


The bill includes extensive legislative findings.




Bill opens door for non-school athletes


The House of Delegates Education Committee passed three bills on Monday. Here is a rundown: 

House Bill 2820 allows HOPE Scholarship Program recipients and microschool and learning-pod students to participate in public school athletics.


West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Executive Director Bernie Dolan told House of Delegates Education Committee members Monday that his agency considers microschools and learning pods as home schools that, under 2019 legislation, have been permitted to participate in public school sports if a student demonstrates “satisfactory evidence of academic progress for one year in compliance (and) the student’s average test results are within or above the fourth stanine in all subject areas.”


The Committee adopted an amendment that prohibits students enrolled in private schools from enrolling in public schools to participate in sports programs offered by the private school they attend as HOPE Scholarship recipients.


Delegates expressed concern that HOPE Scholarship students could effectively “shop” for public schools to attend while using tax dollars to attend private schools.


Other Delegates see the measure as creating “competition” and using athletics for “character development” despite a student’s enrollment status — a point made by Delegate Jonathan Pinson of Mason County.


Delegate Sean Hornbuckle of Cabell County expressed concern that HB2820 leads to blending of private and public school athletics, which Delegate Dana Farrell of Kanawha County referred to as “collateral damage.”


The HOPE Scholarship program allows parents to receive public funds to enroll students in alternate education settings, including nonpublic schools.


House Bill 3273 establishes the State Tech Transfer Commission within the Higher Education Policy Commission to promote commercializing intellectual property that is held by higher education. It calls for a reasonable amount of monetary satisfaction for the institution while abiding by reasonable terms.


A 12-member board, five of whose members are appointed by the Governor, would oversee the Commission, which would have an executive director and staff. The Commission would be responsible for determining rules and procedures for commercial use of intellectual properties.

Members rejected an amendment that would have required the Commission to draw staff from HEPC.

The bill has a second reference to the House Judiciary Committee.


House Bill 3293 establishes requirements for the state educational agency and local educational agencies (county boards) to support public school students who exhibit indicators of risk for or are diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia.


Dyslexia is defined as a “pattern of learning difficulties characterized by problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor decoding, and poor spelling abilities.”


Dyscalculia is defined as a “pattern of learning difficulties characterized by problems processing numerical information, learning arithmetic facts, and performing accurate or fluent calculations.”


Instruction must conform to IDEA and the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR).


HB3293 requires the state Department of Education to develop screening tools, diagnostic assessment components, evidence-based instruction and intervention strategies, appropriate accommodations, and multi-tiered systems of support for students who are “at risk for academic difficulty in reading and/or mathematics, including dyslexia and/or other specific learning disabilities.”


Bill calls for suicide-prevention notices


The House of Delegates Education Committee approved three bills on Friday, February 10. A rundown follows. 

House Bill 3218 requires suicide prevention resources to be printed on student identification cards at any school that issues identification cards for students in grades six to 12 in public schools and for students in a public or private institution of higher education.


The cards provide information for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.


House Bill 3271 mandates placement of audio-recording devices in restrooms of each self-contained classroom that is a part of a school. In addition, a notice is to state: “Pursuant to state law, this restroom is equipped with an audio-recording device for the protection of the students.”


The Committee adopted an amendment that allows parents the option of requesting that students use other available restrooms. A spokesperson for the state Department of Education said costs of the measure were hard to calculate but estimated $500 per restroom primarily for audio-recording equipment, although county boards would incur additional costs for parents who want their students to use an alternate restroom.


Another cost, according to Committee discussions, relates to ensuring that audio recording occurs when the restroom is occupied.


Senate Bill 275 adds state Fire Marshal deputies along with law enforcement and first responders to receive information about school safety requirements.


The Committee voted to postpone House Bill 3259, which would have prohibited school buses from paying “toll road fees in the course of their regular use within a school system. Regular use is defined as transporting students to and from a school, transporting students to school-related events — such as field trips, after-school events, and sporting events — and when the driver drives the bus for maintenance.”


In a fiscal note, the Parkway Authority, citing state constitutional, statutory, and bonding considerations, said it opposed the bill.


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 

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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