2020 Legislature

 

During the 2020 state legislative session, we asked you what energy and environment issues were on your mind. We got a lot of great responses, but one area in particular stood out —  many of you had questions about West Virginia's renewable energy policies. 

Like Huntington, West Virginia, resident Jennifer Leist. She asked: “What are the obstacles keeping West Virginia from advancing with more renewable energy in our state? What can we do to help with the problem?”

This year, West Virginia lawmakers debated a handful of different bills related to solar energy. One proposal that could exponentially increase the amount of solar installed across the Mountain State passed. 

A bill that would create a utility solar energy program in West Virginia is one step closer to becoming law.

On Thursday, despite vocal opposition from some coalfield lawmakers, the House of Delegates passed an amended version of S.B. 583, 75 to 23 with two members not voting. The bill now heads back to the Senate to address two House amendments.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

The West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed two bills that would provide tax cuts to the natural gas industry in an effort to boost petrochemical and plastics manufacturing.   

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Foster parents may soon get more money for adopting children under a measure passed by the House of Delegates Tuesday aimed at alleviating West Virginia's overburdened foster care system.

Delegates voted 96-1 to approve the bill, with Republican Del. Pat McGeehan as the lone no vote after he was told the measure would cost the state around $17 million.

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky.
Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities.

As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and revenue has also gained traction.

solar panels atop the garage attached to the First State Capitol Building
Glynis Board / WVPB

Lawmakers in the West Virginia Senate have passed a bill that would markedly increase solar generation in the coal-heavy Mountain State. 

West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia educators would have to teach students about suicide prevention under a bill passed Wednesday by the state Senate.

Lawmakers voted 33-0 to approve the bill, which would require that teachers, students and other school officials get training on suicide prevention and awareness.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

After acknowledging that murder is already a crime, the West Virginia Senate on Monday passed a bill to penalize physicians who don't provide medical care to a baby born after an abortion attempt.

West Virginia's Senate approved a bill Monday to create a new intermediate court system.

The bill that passed on an 18-14 vote now goes to the House of Delegates. The Legislature has made numerous attempts in past sessions to approve similar legislation without success.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll talk to some Appalachians who identify as Melungeon.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that would allow homeschool and private school students to participate in public school extracurricular activities under the state’s Secondary School Activities Commission. 

Solar panels arriving in Fayette County.
Colleen Laffey

A legislative proposal that would allow limited solar development by West Virginia’s two electric utilities has ignited intense debate in the energy committees of both the lower and upper houses of the state Legislature.

Steve Helber/ Associated Press

Some state lawmakers in West Virginia are looking at some ways to address our overcrowded prison system and help more previously incarcerated people reenter the workforce. What would criminal justice reform look like in West Virginia? Last year, several groups and non-profits went around the state to gather testimony and stories from over 200 people about their experiences with the criminal justice system. Their stories were collected through interviews, surveys and focus groups. 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a conversation about criminal justice reform and issues facing the state's veterans.

 

 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning: marijuana legislation, residents worried about plastic production, we celebrate some young artists, and we hear a debate about whether the state needs a new tier in the court system.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

In an effort to address overcrowding in regional jails, the West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill to release pretrial inmates that have been charged with certain misdemeanor crimes, on their own recognizance. The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration, where previous bills with a similar mission have failed. 

Natural gas pipeline warning sign
Richard Marx / Adobe Stock

West Virginia lawmakers in the House Energy Committee Tuesday voted to advance a bill that would provide tax credits to companies that store and transport a valuable byproduct of natural gas production. 

Capitol, West Virginia State Capitol
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

 

For The Legislature Today, reporter Brittany Patterson spent a day at West Virginia University’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources speaking with students studying petroleum and natural gas engineering. 

The industry is an economically important one across the state. According to the state tax department, in 2019, the state received $146 million in severance taxes from natural gas.

 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that would roll back certain fire safety regulations. Some lawmakers said this move will increase the risk of electrical home fires, while the bill’s proponents said it would save constituents some money.  

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the House of Delegates passed a bill known as the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. 

The measure calls on doctors to use “reasonable medical judgement” in the event of an unsuccessful abortion. It passed with bi-partisan support.

West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael is against a proposal to explicitly bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Republican said in a statement Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Carmichael had taken a neutral stance on the bill after drawing criticism for meeting with a group of activists about the legislation. He now says the current bill doesn't do enough to protect religious liberties.

Perry Bennet / WV Legislative Photography

A West Virginia delegate had a good excuse for missing the recent start of the legislation session — he was recuperating from surgery after donating a kidney to his sister.

Cabell County Democrat Sean Hornbuckle told The Herald-Dispatch that he planned to return to Charleston this week.

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.

Proponents of increasing renewable energy generation in the Mountain State are once again urging West Virginia lawmakers to legalize a common financing method — power purchase agreements, or PPAs. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice discussed state efforts to improve roads, his opposition to sanctuary cities and his administration’s work to combat addiction at his annual State of the State Address Wednesday evening

One thing Democrats said they didn’t hear?

“West Virginia is hemorrhaging population,” Del. Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, said. 

W.Va. Senate Forms Committee Dedicated To Child Welfare Issues

Jan 8, 2020
State Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, speak during opening day of the state legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va.
Chris Jackson / AP photo

A committee has been formed in the West Virginia Senate to focus on upcoming legislation related to child welfare.

The Senate Select Committee on Children and Families, whose formation was announced Wednesday, will be led by Kanawha County Republican and Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo.

Wikimedia Commons

A group of Democratic West Virginia lawmakers announced plans Monday to introduce legislation to regulate a group of toxic, man-made fluorinated chemicals.