Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy announced last week that state agencies are facing approximately $100 million in anticipated budget cuts as the state’s severance tax collections have slowed in recent months.  Current revenue collections are $29.8 million below estimates for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, 2019.

The announced budget cuts highlight the “boom and bust” cycles often associated with West Virginia’s severance tax collections, as the state just three months prior experienced a revenue surplus built in large part on economic rebounds in the energy ...

Posted in Tourism

This past week highlighted the importance of tourism on West Virginia’s economy, as more than 200 people representing restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and the tourism industry in general made their way up the mountain to Snowshoe Resort for the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

The 2019 Conference kicked off on September 23 with Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby highlighting the impact of the tourism industry on West Virginia.  According to the latest data from the West Virginia Tourism Office, the industry had an economic impact of $4.3 million in direct ...

The years-long legal challenge of West Virginia’s “Right to Work” law, officially dubbed the West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, W.Va. Code § 21-5G-1 et seq., could soon be coming to an end, as the case appears ready for a decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals sometime this fall.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey formally appealed Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey’s order vacating portions of the Act on June 19, 2019.  The Respondent unions filed a response to Attorney General Morrisey’s appeal on July 31, arguing that Judge Bailey’s ruling ...

State agencies have filed more than 140 agency approved rules with the Legislative Rule Making Review Committee (LRMRC) as part of the ongoing legislative rule-making process.

West Virginia is unique from almost all other states, and the federal government, in that it requires legislative approval of most rules and regulations proposed by state agencies, boards and commissions.  The so-called rule making review process is essentially a year-round endeavor, with rules being subjected to drafting, public comment, final agency approval and consideration and modification by the ...

The last several months have been busy ones for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on the oil and natural gas front, as the Court has issued three significant opinions impacting the industry.   The three cases recently decided by the state Supreme Court uniquely affect unconventional drilling operations in West Virginia’s developing oil and gas industry.

First, in EQT Production Company v. Crowder, et al., the Court held that a mineral owners’ implied surface use rights are limited to those uses that are reasonably necessary to develop minerals underlying the surface ...

As the summer heats up, so too does the activity under and around the Capitol dome in Charleston.  While the July 4th holiday usually offers a nice break from state and national politics, there’s been no shortage of activity over the last two weeks.  This week’s State of Affairs looks at some of the headlines and recent developments:

  • While lawmakers finally completed action on a comprehensive education reform package (HB 206), the debate rages on over charter schools in West Virginia. One of the state’s two major teachers unions – the West Virginia Education Association – has ...

Members of the House of Delegates returned to town this week to begin consideration of potential education reform proposals as part of the continuing special session on education “betterment.” 

Lawmakers reconvened nearly two weeks after the State Senate advanced two separate proposals:

  • SB 1039 – Dubbed the “Student Success Act,” SB 1039 is an omnibus education reform package that includes, but is not limed to, the following:
    • Education expense tax credits for teachers and other school personnel;
    • Expansion of the Mountaineer Challenge Academy;
    • Establishing a Mountain ...

June 7th marked 90 days from the conclusion of the 2019 Legislative Session, and with that all of the bills previously enacted by the West Virginia Legislature are now officially law.  One of those bills now in effect is SB 622, relating generally to the regulation and control of financing elections. 

SB 622 brings substantial changes to the state’s campaign finance laws for candidates and political organizations alike.  Those involved in elections in West Virginia will have to navigate these changes in the lead up to the 2020 elections.  As such, this blog post looks at some of the key ...

Posted in Legislation

In conjunction with previously scheduled interim committee meetings, the West Virginia Legislature met briefly this week to reconsider bills that had been vetoed by Governor Jim Justice during the regular legislative session. In all, state lawmakers passed 18 pieces of legislation, including several supplemental appropriations shifting spending for the existing budget year.  Highlights of the one-day special session include the following:

  • HB 119, SB 1016 & SB 1019 – Supplemental Appropriations to the Department of Transportation and Division of Highways: With the passage ...

While there’s been much discussion of medical cannabis in West Virginia over the last several years, far less attention has been given to the industry that is slowly and steadily building around marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin – hemp.

Derived from the cannabis family of plants, hemp is distinguishable in large part because of its very low levels of THC – the chemical that produces the psychological effects of marijuana.  The lack of intoxicating properties associated with hemp has made development of the product more palatable to policymakers, and the regulatory ...