The Legislature Today

M-F at 6 p.m. on TV, Radio & Digital. Re-airs at 7 p.m. on The WV Channel

The Legislature Today is West Virginia's source for daily legislative news and information.  The only live television program covering the West Virginia Legislature, the broadcast features reports from the Senate, House and committee meetings with in-depth interviews and analysis of the legislative process in West Virginia.

The Legislature Today airs weeknights at these times and locations:

The Legislature Today can also be heard at 6 p.m. weeknights on WVPB's statewide radio network.

 

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The Senate passes a bill that would make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. Committees in the state legislature's upper house also took up bill pertaining to the budget and drug testing of coal mine employees who work in safety-related positions. Members of the House consider legislation allowing businesses to reduce the number of hours an employee works to avoid layoffs. Also, state Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares talks with Ashton Marra about a teacher hiring bill passed in the House, another bill that would limit the timeline for the state to take control of a county school system, and how schools are ensuring the safety of students after the Jan. 9 spill into the Elk River.

Daniel Walker

House Bill 4409 creates the Valued Employee Retention Program with the goal of giving employers incentive to reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off.

It requires employers to enter an agreement to submit a plan explaining how instead of laying off their employees they would reduce their hours. In exchange, the employee could get unemployment benefits proportional to the amount of hours that they’ve been reduced.

Ashton Marra

Senators took up Senate Bill 420 Monday to amend the state P-20W Longitudinal Data System.

The system collects statistics from K-12, colleges, universities and community colleges tracking student achievement.

The bill adds child care and workforce data to the system giving a broader view of a student’s success. It also requires the information be brought to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability to ensure transparency.

Senators vote on seven bills, reject one, and also down amendments to the prescription-only pseudoephedrine bill. The House of Delegates passes a bill to expand the hours of alcohol sales at some businesses to include Sunday brunch. Senators Mike Green and Daniel Hall talk about Wyoming County's own water issues and what they're hoping to do to solve the problem.

'Brunch Bill' for Alcohol Sales Passes W.Va. House

Feb 17, 2014
Daniel Walker

The bill that incited the most debate during Monday’s floor session was one that would allow private licensees to begin alcohol sales at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays instead of 1:00 p.m. as dictated by current code. Aaron Payne reports.

House Bill 4454 would allow restaurants and tourism destinations such as a bed and breakfast to serve alcoholic beverages as part of Sunday brunch.

Supporters of the bill said that it could boost profits from tourism in the state.

The House of Delegates approves a bill that would provide benefits for businesses working with technologies not currently in West Virginia if they locate or expand in launch pads areas in the state. The Division of Corrections is honored through a resolution in the Senate, and  Jonathan Mattise of the Associated Press & Mandi Cardosi of The State Journal speak with Friday host Ashton Marra about the latest on the status of the chemical spill bill in the House, as well as the Attorney General's actions after reports of price gouging during the water crisis.

House Approves W. Va. Launch Pad Act

Feb 14, 2014
Daniel Walker

House Bill 4343 provides economic benefits for businesses working with technologies not currently in West Virginia if they locate or expand in launch pads areas in the state.

These benefits would begin on January 1, 2015 and last until December 30, 2030 and include state and local tax relief and assistance in moving a business here.

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Division of Corrections was honored in the Senate Friday with a resolution declaring February 14, 2014, Corrections day at the legislature.

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein was joined by his Cabinet Secretary Joe Thornton and other members of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety to receive the honor.

“On this day, it is important for this Legislature to remember that the starting annual salary for an entry level correctional professional in West Virginian is $22,584,” said Sen. Bill Laird.

The West Virginia Senate Education Committee is proposing a sweeping $1,000 pay raise for teachers.
 
The bill originally proposed a 2 percent raise.
Committee Chair Bob Plymale says they hope the raise will begin to attract highly qualified teachers.
 
He says many teachers across the state are nearing retirement and the committee wants to compete for new teachers nationally.
 
While the committee doesn't feel an across-the-board raise of $1,000 is competitive enough, Plymale says it's a start.

The House of Delegates passes a bill to make the sale e-cigarettes illegal to minors and addresses the issue of sexual abuse of minors. The
Senate deals with two issues--state purchasing and pseudoephedrine--that have been in mind since interims. Representatives of the Our Children, Our Future campaign to end child poverty discuss their legislative priorities with Beth Vorhees.

Daniel Walker

In Thursday’s House session, one bill on third reading and two bills mentioned in a speech dealt with the health and well-being of West Virginia’s children.

H.B. 4237 would protect the health of children from new products alternative to the traditional sources of tobacco.

These new products include electronic cigarettes and cigars and dissolving products such as toothpicks, gum and lozenges.

Ashton Marra

Senators unanimously passed a bill requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine through committee and will soon vote as a whole on a bill reforming state purchasing procedures. Both issues were studies during the previous interim session.

Senator Greg Tucker sponsored the prescription only bill which makes pseudoephedrine a controlled substance, requiring a prescription for its purchase. The bill made it through Senate Judiciary after three hours of debate.

A 2012 study finds that many of the state’s veterans report suffering from symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and 20% reported giving serious thought to suicide. The Senate discusses firefighters who respond to well site fires and explosions. Marshall University president Dr. Stephen Kopp talks finances, the privatizing of public education and more.

Aaron Payne

In the governor’s State of the State address, Tomblin said that one of his goals for the legislative session is to provide a pay raise for groups such as teachers and state workers. The House of Delegates voted on a bill that would do the same for a different group in West Virginia; minimum wage workers.

KDKA-TV

News broke Tuesday of a gas well explosion and fire in Greene County, Pennsylvania, injuring one worker while a second is still missing.

The well was just miles from the West Virginia border, close to the first Senatorial District from which Senator Jack Yost hails, a district that’s full of well sites of its own.

Gov. Tomblin announces plans for in-home water testing, an abortion-restricting bill is rejected with a tie vote, the Senate looks to increase the sin tax to remedy a budget crunch, and The West Virginia Women's Commission outlines their legislative agenda.

Abortion-Restricting Bill Rejected With Tie Vote

Feb 11, 2014
Daniel Walker

A vote resulting in a tie is a rarity in the legislature but one occurred Tuesday in the House of Delegates.

There were no bills up for passage but, with it being “Pro-Life Day” at the Capitol, there was an attempt made to discharge House Bill 2364 from committee to be put to a vote on the floor.

WV Legislative Photography

Senate Bill 534 was introduced in the Senate Tuesday to increase the excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The proposal would mean a $1 increase in taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $1.55 total. On all other tobacco products, the tax increases from 7 percent of the wholesale price to 50 percent.

“From a polling standpoint, people say they don’t have a problem with increasing cigarette taxes,” said Senator Bob Plymale, the bill’s lead sponsor.

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a field hearing on the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River, the House of Delegates considers a bill that would increase the minimum wage, and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling talks about her agency's response to the water crisis.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

Ashton Marra

The two hour field hearing by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure began Monday with opening remarks where witnesses, recounted their company’s or agency’s response immediately following the discovery of the leak.

Lawmakers, however, were focused on the fact the Freedom Industries’ President Gary Southern, invited to testify, didn't attend.

Aaron Payne

Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

The House Finance Committee amended H.B. 4283 to increase minimum wage by 75 cents to $8.00 per hour by January of 2015 and then add another 75 cents by January of 2016 to total $8.75. The amendment delayed those changes from July 2014 and 2015 respectively so that businesses could have time to budget for the increase.

Members of the West Virginia Senate and Jimmy Gianato of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management respond to Wednesday's news conference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency and  the House of Delegates passes bills to make land record electronic, adds requirement to consumer transactions. Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail and Pam Pritt of Beckley's The Register-Herald talk about the water crisis and other issues making their way through the statehouse.

Ashton Marra

Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianato testified before the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Water Resources Friday, answering questions about the state testing water quality in homes.

Daniel Walker

After a brief delay, the House convened for its final floor session of the week.

House Bill 4010 creates the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act. It was approved and recommend for enactment in all 50 states by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws.

Delegate Mark Hunt explained exactly what the Act would entail before it was voted on.

The House Finance Committee considers a bill that would prohibit candidates from using email to solicit public employees, Sen. Ron Stollings wants Congress to change SNAP benefits to exclude junk food, and Kent Spellman and Stephanie Tyree of the West Virginia Community Development Hub discuss blueprint communities and HUB Cap.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

Senator Ron Stollings decided against continuing his legislation relating to the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is opting for a resolution instead, calling on Congress to change the benefits nationwide.

Stollings’ bill directed the state Department of Health and Human Resources to apply for a waiver with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The waiver would prohibit the purchase of soda and junk foods with SNAP benefits, or food stamps.

Daniel Walker

With the primary election coming in May and the general election in November, the House Judiciary Committee took a look at current code that prohibits elected officials and candidates from soliciting public employees, discussing H.B. 4414, relating to the solicitation of public employees by an elected officer of the state.

The House passes a bill known as the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act--but not without fierce debate over an amendment that sought to include "fetus" in the bill's language, The Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources hears from Kanawha-Charleston Health Depart chief Dr. Rahul Gupta and the state Bureau for Public Health's Dr. Letitia Tierney. Also, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin provides an update on the chemical spill and water crisis with officials from the CDC and EPA.

On Wednesday the House passed bill 4284, also known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The bill’s purpose would be to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace.

The following would be considered an unlawful employment practice:

The Senate moves a bill to make pseudoephedrine prescription-only, the House of Delegates weighs public comments in regards to the Senate's water protection and above-ground storage tank regulation bill, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey talks about a his office's investigation on the chemical spill, price gouging, and the need for more legislative audits.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

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