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 day after the House of Delegates’ public hearing on last month’s chemical leak and the safety of the water supply, lawmakers began the process of incorporating suggestions to strengthen Senate Bill 373.

While some speakers at the hearing felt that there were too many empty chairs at the hearing, Del. Don Perdue said the turnout from his fellow delegates was satisfactory.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources was the first to take action on Senate Bill 6 Tuesday, regulating the sale of drug products used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Senate Bill 6:

Before sending Senate Bill 373 through its Health and Human Resources, Judiciary and Finance Committees, the House of Delegates allowed citizens directly affected by the chemical leak to voice their concerns and offer suggestions to the bill in a public hearing in the chamber

While the stories and testimonies were different, the overall message was a call to action for lawmakers.

Some of the highlights of the points speakers made were:

The House of Delegates' Health, Judiciary, and Finance Committees held a joint public hearing Monday evening about the Elk River chemical spill.

On this special extended edition of The Legislature Today,  citizens tell lawmakers how they’ve been affected by the chemical contamination of their drinking water. 

Ashton Marra

The upper chamber passed four bills Monday. They include:

Senate Bill 267

The bill ensure that state courts have jurisdiction over prosecuting unauthorized or fraudulent uses of state purchasing cards when used out of state. Penalties include 1-5 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

The House of Delegates responds to accusations that the triple committee reference of the Senate's chemical spill bill means certain demise. The Senate plans to get children exercising, rehabilitation programs to quell prison overcrowding, and a bill to create a future fund for mineral severance taxes. Former Charleston Daily Mail business editor and current West Virginia Press Association writer George Hohmann talks Senator John Unger's 'Move to Improve' initiative and minimum wage. Eric Eyre of The Charleston Gazette discusses prescription-only pseudoephedrine legislation aimed at stifling meth production.

Ashton Marra

Senate President Jeff Kessler introduced his Future Fund legislation into the Senate Friday. The proposal this year, however, is slightly different from years past.

Senate Bill 461 creates the statutory framework for the fund:

-Provides 25 percent of any revenues collected from oil and gas severance taxes over and above $175 million be automatically placed in Future Fund, up from $70 million baseline proposed last year

Daniel Walker

It took 12 days from its introduction for the Senate to pass Bill 373.

It has been several days since its introduction to the House and the bill has yet to be seen by its first committee.

WV Legislature

With the Success of the Feed to Achieve Act last year, Senate Majority Leader John Unger is now looking to take on childhood obesity with new legislation. He introduced the Move to Improve Act into the Senate Thursday.

“Move to Improve goes into our middle schools and our elementary schools and really tries to instill in our students the importance of good nutrition and physical activity,” Unger said.

The Senate focuses on the health of children around West Virginia, Senator John Unger talks issues regarding children and poverty, improving education,  as well as movement on the bill to protect water resources from another chemical spill. Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox discusses poor road conditions and funding with the House Finance Committee.

Aaron Payne

Committee members heard from various offices that make up the department of transportation - the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Highways, the State Rail Authority, the Division of Public Transit, the Public Port Authority, the Aeronautics Commission and the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Like in many other budget hearings, officials from each office laid out how they will handle their finances to deal with the upcoming tight fiscal years.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Marshall University Professor and Vice-Chair of the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board Dr. Scott Simonton presented testimony to the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources Wednesday.

In his testimony, Dr. Simonton said he had found formaldehyde in the water supply of the Charleston restaurant Vandalia Grille. He also said he "can guarantee" people are breathing in the chemical while showering.

Legislators, state public health officials, and West Virginia American Water react to reports of formaldehyde found in the water of a Charleston business, the House rejects a resolution that would have allowed those absent while serving in the military to vote in the legislature, and Anne Barth og TechConnect and  Marjorie Darrah of eTouchSciences discuss how the legislature can help spur economic innovation.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

Aaron Payne

The House currently has one member that cannot participate in voting or House activities due to military service. Delegate Joshua Nelson has been absent for the second session of the 81st Legislature while on active duty.

House Resolution 6 would allow participation for Nelson and future members not physically present while serving in the military in House proceedings and voting by electronic teleconferencing.

After well over an hour of discussion the Senate passes SB 373, which seeks to protect water resources from chemical spills by establishing regulations for above-ground storage facilities,  the House of Delegates debates constitutionality of a bill from the governor dealing with appropriations of funds for Volunteer Fire Departments and Public Services accounts, and Gaylene Miller and Angela Vance of the West Virginia AARP outline their legislative agenda.

Aaron Payne

Three bills were voted on and passed by the House of Delegates Tuesday.

H.B. 2387

The bill relates to reasonable accommodations under the West Virginia Fair Housing Act for persons with disabilities who need assistive animals. The bill would not only include seeing-eye dogs, but also support animals that one might not think of such as therapy dogs for returning veterans with PTSD.

The Senate amends the most widely discussed bill of the session thus far, Senate Bill 373--that seeks to protect water resources, the House passes a bill that would increase penalties for the possession of child pornography, and Health & Human Resources Committee Chairs Senator Ron Stollings and Delegate Don Perdue talk a wide range of issues related to medicine and public health--from the health effects of the  chemical spill to moves to make pseudoepedrine available by prescription only.

Aaron Payne

H.B. 4006 adds those who access with intent to view as those who can be convicted of possession of child pornography. The bill would also add enhanced penalties for such offenses with aggravating circumstances. If the material contains more than 500 images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the offense is a felony punishable by a sentence of 18 months to five years and a fine of 10,000 dollars.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislature

Senators offered amendments Monday to Senate Bill 373, relating to water resources protection.

Senate Judiciary Chair Corey Palumbo offered new exclusions as well as substantive amendments:

The Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources continues to hear testimony about the ongoing investigation into the January 9 chemical  spill. The House of Delegates wonders how proposed legislation would affect the Department of Environmental Protection financially and statehouse reporters Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail and Jonathan Mattise of The Associated Press discuss the latest on Freedom Industries' bankruptcy filing and the remediation of the Elk River spill site. 

Aaron Payne

Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia DEP Randy Huffman presented the proposed budget to the committee, relating how the organization would deal with the governor’s 7.5 percent cut.

Huffman assured there would be no loss in personnel. However, paying the personnel a fair and competitive wage was a challenge.

Delegate Ron Walters asked how proposed water protection legislation would affect the DEP financially.

“We’re doing an inventory, right now,” Huffman said.

“We’re going to try in the next few days to get an estimate.”

Ashton Marra

The Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources held its third hearing related to the Kanawha Valley chemical leak Friday, receiving testimony for the first time from those conducting the on-site investigation.

Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board Rafael Moure-Eraso explained his team of four investigators is in the preliminary phases in an investigation that could take up to a year to complete.

West Virginia Legislature

Senate Bill 373, the bill regulating above ground storage tanks, advanced through the committee process quickly this week causing concern for some members of the upper chamber.

In a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, many expressed more time was necessary with the bill. Despite the discontent with the process, the bill was passed by the committee unanimously Thursday.

“It has moved more quickly than a lot of bills do in the Legislature,” said Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Corey Palumbo Friday, “but I think the public wants to see us act.”

The House of Delegates passes a bill known as "Felicity's Law", which would allow for the euthanization of an animal that causes harm to a person. Senator Herb Snyder introduces a bill meant to repeal a section of code giving discounts to gasoline wholesalers and the Senate Finance Committee hears a budget presentation from the Division of Corrections. Also, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant talks about the looming deadline for the candidate filing period for the 2014 election, as well as the bill which would provide emergency funding to small businesses in the event of a disaster.

Daniel Walker

Felicity was a two-year-old-girl from Grant County who wandered away alone from a birthday party and was viciously attacked by two dogs. It took repeated surgeries for her to recover from her injuries. Because there was no criminal negligence on the part of the dogs’ owners, no legal action could be taken by her parents in a criminal or private case under current law according to the W. Va. Supreme Court of Appeals.

Janet Kunicki

A bill introduced in the Senate is meant to repeal a section of code giving discounts to gasoline wholesalers.

Senator Herb Snyder is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 421. He said in researching areas of state code dealing with gasoline prices, he found a section that essentially gives a rebate to oil and gas companies who own wholesale terminals, only one of which is located in West Virginia.

The Senate proposes many questions to the House Bill that would allow for funding for small businesses following an emergency, the House of Delegates focuses on emergency preparedness in the event of future disasters,  and Angela Rosser of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition outlines her organization's policy recommendations following the chemical spill.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the legislature continues to work on how to deal with the effects of the chemical spill, the House of Delegates looked at proposed legislation dealing with future disasters in terms of preparedness and flood insurance.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security discussed House Bill 4147. The bill deals with what can be done in a State of Preparedness.

Ashton Marra

House Bill 4175, The West Virginia Emergency Small Business Act, has two basic provisions.

The first gives the governor authority to direct the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to write emergency rules. Those rules would allow the state to provide some form of monetary assistance to small businesses during a declared State of Emergency.

The House Judiciary Committee holds an informational meeting to hear more about the chemical spill and hears recommendations from Downstream Strategies President Evan Hansen, the Governor's legislative agenda pushes through the Senate, the House passes a bill to create a West Virginia Day of Prayer, and Judiciary Chairs Sen. Corey Palumbo and Del. Tim Manchin respond to arguments that West Virginia is "anti-regulation."

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

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