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.

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

 

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Marshall University | West Virginia University

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.

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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.

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.

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