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

Countdown: 23 days to go


February 16, 2023


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Senate Judiciary


Bill requires Sheriffs to serve abuse petitions


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a committee substitute for Senate Bill 621, which would require the sheriff to serve child-abuse and neglect petitions without additional compensation. Any obligation of service ends after the notice of the first hearing. 

Counsel said 53 of the 55 counties are serving the notice of preliminary hearing, but Kanawha and Marion counties are not; it is left up to child protective services (CPS) workers.


Senator Mike Caputo of Marion County asked whether there was any information from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office about why it was not fulfilling that function.


Cammie Chapman, Department of Health and Human Resources Deputy Secretary for Child and Adult Services, said, “In 53 counties, this is a process that works.”


She said the petitions are filed after children have been removed from a home, and that task is not safe for CPS workers. Ms. Chapman did not know why Marion or Kanawha counties were not providing the service.


Frank Hartman, representing the West Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, told the committee that Sheriffs agreed with the bill.


“Marion County is fine with this,” he said, indicating he had spoken with the Sheriff. “The Sheriffs’ Association as a whole has no issues with this bill,” Mr. Hartman concluded.


Kanawha County Senator Mark Hunt asked Committee Chair Ryan Weld of Brooke County, acting in Senator Charles Trump’s absence, to listen to any compelling reason that Kanawha County might have.


“Kanawha County beats to the beat of a different drummer,” Senator Hunt said.


Deadly weapons list changed

The Senate Judiciary Committee quickly passed Senate Bill 608 to correct the partial list of items that are considered deadly weapons. An error was made in stating the number of weapons as eight when 15 are listed.


Bill designed to protect social service workers

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a committee substitute for Senate Bill 630, which creates an offense when a person knowingly and willfully obstructs a social service worker or home confinement supervisors when those government personnel are acting in their official capacities.


Indecent exposure clarified in bill

Senate Judiciary Committee passed Sente Bill 635, which clarifies what constitutes indecent exposure and adds a new offense. Penalties are specified.


The new offense is for indecent exposure for sexual gratification purposes to a person under 16 years of age.


Senator Mark Hunt of Kanawha County wanted to preserve language that had been stricken from the bill.. He proposed an amendment that was adopted to add “or the person engages in an overt act of sexual gratification toward another.”


Seniors, Children, Families


Bill spells out preservation of abuse records


The House of Delegates Seniors, Children, and Families Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 3287, providing the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) records of sustained and non-sustained allegations of child abuse or neglect are preserved. It was second-referenced to House Judiciary. 

The bill sets severity levels and a time frame for Child Protective Services (CPS) for cases that are not adjudicated. The severity levels are labeled severe harm with 18 years of record-keeping required; moderate harm requiring seven years, and minimal harm requiring three years of records.


Delegate Danielle Walker of Monongalia County asked whether those levels currently exist


Cammie Chapman, DHHR Deputy Secretary for Child and Adult Services, responded, “We would have to develop those definitions.”


She said that would be accomplished by the Policy Division of the Bureau of Social Services within the 90 days before the bill would become effective.


Delegate Laura Kimble of Harrison County asked Ms. Chapman about the meaning of the terms “real” or “threatened” as used in the bill.


“I’m particularly concerned about the threatened,” Delegate Kimble said.


Ms. Chapman responded that she thinks it would mean that the child is in imminent danger


Law Enforcement


Bill changes correction officers’ status


The House of Delegates Jails and Prisons Committee on Thursday advanced House Bill 3363, which supporters said corrects an oversight in the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA). 

LEOSA was passed in 2005. The measure allows trained law enforcement officers nationwide to carry a concealed firearm off duty anywhere in the United States. However, the original language did not extend to corrections officers in West Virginia.


“It was intended to recognize law enforcement officers across the country in an interstate optic to carry a firearm,” said Delegate Mike Honaker of Greenbrier County.


Because corrections officers go through the corrections academy and not the police academy in West Virginia, they technically are not considered law enforcement officers. HB3363 would change the status and put them into the fold.


Click here to read more from WVMetroNews.


Senate Finance


Bill revises allocation of CPS workers


Senate Finance Subcommittee A voted on Thursday to recommend Senate Bill 273 to the Senate Finance Commitee. 

That bill revises requirements regarding the allocation of child protective services (CPS) workers in counties based on the population of the county.


SB273 creates a special merit-based system for critical, high-need positions the Bureau for Social Services has difficulty filing. The system establishes pay disparity among regions in the state based on job demand and market rates.


While those provisions relate to new hires, more senior CPS workers can opt into the merit-based system. The bill disallows grievances to be filed regarding pay disparity.


The bill requires $1.3 million in legislative supplemental appropriations.


SB273 also provides for data reporting on statistics from the time centralized intake is contacted. A chief concern expressed by Senators Michael Maroney of Marshall County and Rollan Roberts of Raleigh County was Division of Personnel rules and procedures they say hamper flexibility in deploying CPS workers, as well as classification specifications they say hinder CPS workers in executing their duties.


Senator Eric Nelson of Kanawha County noted a July 1 internal timeline for bill provisions to be effective. He was assured DHHR, which apparently will be split into three distinct divisions, will attempt to meet the timeline.


Senate Education


Bill outlines care for diabetic students


The Senate Education Committee on Thursday approved several bills. Here is a rundown: 

Senate Bill 195 permits a licensed health care provider to prescribe the diabetes medicarion glucagon in the name of a school district or school based on a standing order approved by a school nurse.


Trained school personnel could administer undesignated glucagon both on site and during field trips and school-sponsored excursions off site.


After undesignated glucagon is administered, the school is required to call local emergency assistance, notify the school nurse, the student’s parent, guardian, or emergency contact, and health care provider.


In schools with a student having diabetes, SB195 allows school personnel to receive voluntary training in basics of diabetes care, how to identify when a student with diabetes needs immediate or emergency medical attention, and who to contact during an emergency according to a student’s Diabetes Care Plan.


SB195 allows school districts to coordinate the staff training and allow school nurses, where available, or health care providers with expertise in pediatric diabetes to provide technical assistance and/or consultation to school personnel


Bill addresses higher education accreditation

Senate Bill 488 requires the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Community and Technical System of West Virginia and higher education governing boards to issue rules by December 31 to permit institutions to pursue accreditation with accreditors recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.


SB488 is based on a 2019 federal law that allows higher education entities to select from 17 accreditors following the dissolution of the North Central Association in 2014.


Bill grants BSU, WVSU leeway to add degrees

Senate Bill 602 authorizes Bluefield State University and West Virginia State University to offer associate degrees on their campuses without approval of the Higher Education Policy Commission or the Community and Technical System of West Virginia


Neither WVSU nor Bluefield State, however, can initiate an associate degree program that is a duplicate of a program that is currently offered or planned to be offered by a community and technical college that is in the same planning district as the institution.


The bill also provides that a community and technical college can only demonstrate that it plans to offer a program by showing that it has notified its accreditor of its plans to offer the program or that it has received funding to offer the program.


Legislation expands WV Invests Grant Program eligibility

House Bill 2757 expands eligibility for the WV Invests Grant Program to include two additional types of not-for-profit institutions, namely not-for-profit private baccalaureate institutions and not-for-profit hospital-based allied health programs.


Only not-for-profit private baccalaureate institutions satisfying the requirements of participating in Advanced Career Education (ACE) programs are included in the expanded definition.


The goal of ACE, as outlined in statute, is to prepare secondary students for success in post-secondary education and the work force through more opportunities to earn post-secondary college credits, certifications, and associate degrees.


Technology and Infrastructure


Committee hears about derailment’s effects


The House of Delegates Infrastructure and Technology Committee on Thursday received a briefing regarding the February 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and how it may affect West Virginia. 

Representatives from West Virginia/American Water Co. and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the probable effects on water supplies from the Ohio River appeared to be “nothing of consequence.” Within a short time, they said, the “plume” from the chemicals should pose “no level of concern.”


The threshold of concern from the plume, according to EPA, is 560 parts per million (ppm). The highest calculated level in the Ohio River near West Virginia was 12 ppm and is under 3 ppm or. A representative of DEP likened the amount to “a drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”


The chemicals involved, according to Committee discussions, included vinyl chloride and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, some of which were released in the air.


According to state EPA officials, measured air qualities in West Virginia, which is “roughly” 40 “shore miles” from the site of the derailment, don’t appear to be affected. Additionally, Thursday’s precipitation will aid in further dilution of any pollutants having occurred from the derailment after they enter the Ohio River.


By closing various intakes on the Ohio River, as well as use of water from the Guyandotte River for Huntington-area customers, residents shouldn’t have to worry, they said.


The Committee passed four bills.


Bill addresses broadband grant acquisition

House Bill 3397 allows political subdivisions to form entities that would seek to provide or assist in attaining broadband service. The bill was amended so political subdivisions couldn’t create entities having greater grant-securing abilities than the political subdivision itself.


The amendment emanated from some committee members’ concern that the entities could create undue competition with private companies that wish to upgrade broadband services, meaning “over-building” that could further hamper securing broadband services.


Proposed legislation alters Broadband Development Fund

The Committee adopted House Bill 3412which revises the state’s Broadband Development Fund, including regulating the disposal of grant-funded assets and regulating telecommunications carriers.


While Public Service Commission Chairman Charlotte Lane objected to a bill provision that allowed the state Attorney General to have general enforcement of the measure, Committee members said the objection could be considered if the House Judiciary Committee takes up the bill.


Chairman Lane said the PSC had that capability, although, in response to a Delegate’s question about staffing, she said the PSC would have greater staffing capacity if all PSC “vacancies already funded” were filled.


Bill creates Consumer Data Protection Act

House Bill 3498 makes West Virginia one of four states establishing a Consumer Data Protection Act, according to representatives of Microsoft Corporation who joined the meeting virtually.


The bill establishes a framework for controlling and processing personal data in the state. HB3498 applies to businesses in the state that either control or process personal data of at least 100,000 consumers or derive more than 50% of gross revenue from the sale of personal data and control or process the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers.


HB3498 states consumers have rights to access, correct, delete, obtain a copy of personal data, and to opt out of the processing of personal data for the purposes of targeted advertising. The bill provides that the Attorney General has exclusive authority to enforce the law.


Action deferred on distressed utility legislation

The Committee deferred action on House Bill 2865, which clarifies the PSC may enter an order requiring corrective measures up to and including an acquisition of a distressed or failing utility.


Delegate Clay Riley of Harrison County sought to amend the measure so utilities deemed as failing would be able to consult with entities that could provide the utilities assistance to avoid being shuttered.


Footnote for Readers


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2023 Legislative Session 

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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