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

State Capitol

February 28, 2024


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In This Edition


HOUSE QUICK REFERENCE: The West Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation, sending numerous bills to the Senate.

SWATTING BILL: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to increase the penalties for false reporting of an emergency incident — an act known as “swatting.”

WINERY LEGISLATION: The Senate Judiciary Committee made substantial changes to legislation that affects wineries.

CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to broaden protections for critical infrastructure and properties.


House of Delegates


Legislative Quick Reference


The West Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Wednesday, sending the following bills to the Senate for consideration.

·     HB4010 (Relating to providing notification of utility service disruption to its customers) passed 93-0-7 with no debate

·     HB4343 (Remove homeschool testing and portfolio requirements) passed 83-14-3 with minor debate and questions

·     HB4956 (Creating the Oral Health and Cancer Rights Act) passed without debate 96-1-3

·     HB4975 (Relating to establishing a foster parent information system) passed 100-0 without debate

·     Committee Substitute HB5297 (Relating to prohibiting pubertal modulation and hormonal therapy when provided to assist in a gender transition) Two amendments by Pushkin defeated by voice vote. Passed 88-11-Com.Sub.

·     HB5340 (Relating to requiring insurance coverage for a nonopioid drug for the treatment of pain for patients with substance use disorder) passed without debate 94-6

·     Committee Substitute HB5349 (West Virginia Truth in Food Labeling Act) passed 86-11-3

·     Committee Substitute HB5379 (Relating to financial assistance available for a prescription drug) passed 97-0-3

·     Committee Substitute HB5510 (Clarify law regarding the crime of witness tampering) passed 96-0-4

·     HB5551 (Relating to continuing education concerning domestic violence) passed after clean-up amendment 90-1-9

·     Committee Substitute HB5604 (Relating to procurement by state spending units) passed 84-14-2 after debate

·     Committee Substitute HB5609 (Relating to confidentiality of child care records and the Foster Care Ombudsman) 95-0-5 without debate

·     Committee Substitute HB5623 (Relating to absentee voting) 95-0-5 without debate

·     Committee Substitute HB5639 (Prompt Payment Act of 2024) No Debate 95-1

·     Committee Substitute HB5668 (Creating the Responsible Gaming and Research Act) 84-12-4 without debate

·     Committee Substitute HB5685 (Relating to Medicaid Cost Containment) Third reading with right to amend; Delegate Rohrbaugh strike and insert passed; Delegate Williams withdrew No. 1; No. 2 was defeated; bill passed 84-11-6 after extensive discussion and questions

·     HB5698 (Relating to the Consumer Data Protection Act) passed 86-7-7 after extensive debate

Additional legislation

·     SB240 (Increasing fees charged by sheriff) was advanced to third reading without amendment

·     SB164 (Relating generally to trespassing), SB451 (Directing Prosecuting Attorneys Institute to make training available to certain new prosecuting attorneys), SB539 (Creating cold case database) were advanced from first reading to second reading


Law Enforcement



To prohibit swatting


The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a strike-and-insert amendment for Committee Substitute for House Bill 4845 to increase the penalties for false reporting of an emergency incident and clarifying and expanding the section.

False emergency reporting is often called “swatting,” which is making a false claim that prompts an emergency response from law enforcement, emergency responders, or others.

Current law already contains a misdemeanor penalty for the action, but the bill adds two new offenses. A second and subsequent offense of causing injury as a result of going to an emergency call are felonies.

Lead sponsor Delegate Rick Hillenbrand, who presents Hampshire and Mineral counties, was asked why this bill was drafted. He said a constituent has been swatted eight times.

Senator Charles Trump of Morgan County, serving as Vice Chair, told Delegate Hillenbrand, “When you go back over to the east end of the building, you’ll find a ginormous pile of Senate bills over there,” and he asked him to get to work on them.





Revising state law regulating farm wineries


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a strike-and-insert amendment for Committee Substitute for House Bill 5294 that made substantial changes to the bill, which came from the House of Delegates and related only to wineries.

Counsel went through several of the additions made in the amendment, which includes distilled spirits and craft beer tastings and samples as well as wine. The lead sponsor, Delegate Wayne Clark of Jefferson County, told the Committee that farm wineries are struggling with confusion about rules and regulations. He said he is aware that four of 17 wineries could close.

Asked whether the additions to his bill were okay, he said, “I’m fine with that.”

The bill removes the requirement that freshly prepared food must be offered on site at tasting events and allows for pre-packaged food. Selling samples as well as complimentary samples are allowed. Close proximity is redefined as 300 feet for structures and serving areas.

The General Counsel for the West Virginia Beverage Control Administration told the Committee that the agency tried to get the alcohol content of sample sizes consistent. He noted that the establishment must still pay tax on free samples so providing samples is somewhat self-regulating.

Senator Charles Trump of Morgan County concluded the discussion on a humorous note, asking, “Could you give me a list of the bars where they give it out for free?”





West Virginia Critical Infrastructure Protection Act


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a strike-and-insert amendment for Committee Substitute for House Bill 5091 to broaden protections for critical infrastructure and properties. Counsel said trespassing is a misdemeanor and damage is a felony under current law.

The bill increases penalties and adds other types of critical infrastructure, clarifying that the hardware and software of certain facilities are protected, and cyber attacks or digital interference on critical infrastructure are covered under this act.

The requirement that areas of critical infrastructure be enclosed or have a barrier is removed. The example of critical infrastructure that does not have a barrier or is enclosed was power lines.


Looking Ahead


Key dates:

50th Day: February 28, 2024 — Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin; does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills

60th Day: March 9, 2024 — Adjournment at midnight


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.




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


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