2016 Legislature

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislature

In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re doing something a bit different. We’re taking a temperature check on how people are feeling about politics as we head into what is sure to be a critical election year. While most people have the presidential race on their minds, there are many local races here that will have lasting impacts as well.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s been a little more than three months since the state Legislature’s Regular Session came to a close, but there’s one bill that passed that’s still on a lot of people’s minds. That bill is best known as – the Brunch Bill. It calls on county commissions to decide whether to allow the start of alcohol sales at restaurants, wineries, distilleries, and private clubs on Sundays before 1 p.m.

If a commission votes yes by the end of July, then residents in that county get to vote on the issue in November. But there are some towns and cities in the state that don’t want to wait, and they’re finding ways around the legislation.

...like Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Bottle Rockets
Surachit / wikimedia commons

West Virginians will have access to a greater variety of fireworks under a law that debuts this week.

The law that goes into effect Wednesday allows for the use of some aerial fireworks. Those can be sold by businesses licensed by the state fire marshal and include rockets and artillery shells. Customers must be 18 and have a valid state identification.

Prison Bars
Schavda / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia officials have warned 55 prison educators of possible layoffs amid the ongoing budget stalemate.

Sarah Stewart of the state Department of Education says a letter was sent Thursday to the teachers and principals at adult prison facilities.

9 mm handgun
Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia now lets people 21 years old and up carry hidden guns without permits or training.

The law passed by the Republican-led Legislature took effect Tuesday.

Raw Milk Law Takes Effect Today

May 23, 2016

  West Virginians are now allowed to drink raw milk through animal-sharing agreements.

The law that was passed by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin went into effect Monday.

Kristi George / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new report released by the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy shows the state’s cuts to Higher Education are among the worst in the country.

The report shows that funding for Higher Education in West Virginia has been cut considerably since the 2007-2008 school year.

Jim Justice
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

In disgust over the West Virginia Legislature's delays to implement a budget, Democratic nominee for governor Jim Justice has asked the state to remove its $1.75 million sponsorship of the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic.

The billionaire owner of The Greenbrier resort made the comments Monday in a statement released by his campaign.

West Virginia State Capitol
davidwilson1949 / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia lawmakers have returned to negotiate a long-delayed 2017 budget hampered by the coal industry's downfall and low natural gas prices.

The Republican-led Legislature reconvened Monday, per Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's call.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia has eliminated its prevailing wage for new public construction projects.

The repeal passed this winter by the Republican-led Legislature took effect Thursday. Lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, which required a simple majority of the Legislature.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is hitting a deadline to sign or veto bills from this year's legislative session.

Friday is the last day that Tomblin can act on the few bills still in limbo after this year's 60-day legislative session.

Dollar Photo Club

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill this week giving the more than 1,700 nurse practitioners in West Virginia the ability to diagnose and treat patients without physician oversight.

Nurse practitioners in West Virginia are required to work under the guidance of a physician. But in the past, advanced practice nurses couldn’t always find physicians to sign off on their work, sometimes leaving patients without care.  House Bill 4334 attempts to address that problem.

West Virginia health officials won't penalize a state lawmaker who illegally handed out raw milk at the Capitol.

A letter from the Bureau for Public Health last week says Del. Scott Cadle clearly violated state law by offering raw milk to the public on March 3. But the bureau recognized it was a first-time offense.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved increased penalties for passing stopped school buses.

Tomblin signed the bill Thursday.

Swimmerguy269 / wikimedia Commons

A judge has ruled that West Virginia University must make available seven previously redacted emails about a report about right-to-work legislation that a business professor prepared for the legislature.

Monongalia County Circuit Judge Phillip Gaujot ruled against the university's Board of Governors on Tuesday, finding that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is entitled to see the emails.

9 mm handgun
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed a bill that would prohibit county parks from banning guns.

The Democrat's veto message Tuesday says counties are in a better position than the legislature to decide whether gun bans at parks are appropriate.

Uber, Lyft
Cstockwe / wikimedia commons

Companies like Uber will be able to start offering rides in West Virginia under a new law approved by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

On Tuesday, the Democrat signed the bill letting ride-booking companies operate in the state. The Republican-led Legislature passed it with only a handful of 'no' votes.

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

With coal and natural gas tax money dwindling, West Virginia lawmakers are finishing a budget session without a spending plan.

In a news release Tuesday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said he'll send lawmakers home and bring them back later this spring. The new budget year starts July 1.

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

West Virginia lawmakers are back at the Capitol to hash out a budget, though they're unlikely to bridge the gap between the House plan to tap reserves and a Senate version raising taxes.

The Republican-led Legislature returned Monday to negotiate a 2017 budget with a $466 million gap. Lawmakers wrapped their 60-day session Saturday. The budget session ends Tuesday.

Telling West Virginia's (Legislative) Story

Mar 13, 2016

This has been a wild and historic session of the West Virginia Legislature. And every step of the way, West Virginia Public Broadcasting has provided in-depth and comprehensive coverage.

For the first time, West Virginians could see in real time exactly how their laws are made on The West Virginia Channel.

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

Long reliant on coal and natural gas taxes, West Virginia faces a budget quandary as its natural resource industries struggle and hardline legislative Republicans oppose higher taxes.

On Thursday, a House budget committee killed Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's plan to bring in $78 million annually by raising taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Even Democrats opposed the final version, saying it didn't go far enough.

Safe Streets Morgantown / https://www.facebook.com/SafeStreetsMorgantown

West Virginia senators have cleared a bill aimed at fixing roads by raising the state sales tax, DMV fees and the gas tax in certain instances.

The GOP-led Senate voted 25-9 on Wednesday to send the bill to the Republican-led House, which has been more reluctant to raise taxes.

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

A coal tax break and higher fees to fix roads are among the West Virginia bills facing a deadline to stay alive.

Wednesday is the last day in the legislative session for a bill to pass in either the House or the Senate. Bills that haven't passed at least one will likely be dead.

Cigarette, tobacco
nikkytok / Dollar Photo Club

The Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform released results Tuesday from a study analyzing potential changes to tobacco tax policy in West Virginia.

The study was put together by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The report analyzes various changes to the tax rate on cigarettes, as well as potential purchasing declines as a result of an increased tax.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved tax breaks for West Virginia's coal and natural gas industries.

The Democrat signed a bill Monday dropping additional severance taxes of 56 cents per ton of coal and 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas.

pipeline construction
Emmuzka / wikimedia commons

 

The state Senate has voted down a bill that would have allowed natural gas company surveyors onto private property without a landowner's permission.

Senators voted down the bill 23 to 11 Monday. 

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

West Virginia is looking to drop surtaxes on coal mining and natural gas drilling.

The House voted 96-3 Thursday to approve dropping the additional severance tax of 56 cents per ton of coal and 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The Senate previously passed the bill, and still would need to vote on House amendments.

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

West Virginia state business would have to be done in English under a bill that's headed to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Senators voted 27-6 Thursday, sending Tomblin the bill for his approval or disapproval.

Legislature
Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

To regain ground in West Virginia's Legislature, Democrats acknowledge they'll need buyer's remorse from unions at the polls.

West Virginians in union households only favored Democrat Natalie Tennant by 3 percentage points in her losing U.S. Senate bid against Republican Shelley Moore Capito in 2014, according to an exit poll for the AP and TV networks. The GOP also snagged legislative majorities for the first time in more than eight decades.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia senators have cleared a bill to limit nuisance lawsuits by residents, including cases against oil and natural drillers for increased traffic, kicked-up dust, noise and bright lights.

Senators favored the measure in a 20-12 vote Tuesday. It heads to the House.

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