Posts in Legislative Session.
COVID-19 Impacting West Virginia’s Primary Election Landscape    

Count West Virginia’s 2020 Primary Election among the many aspects of our lives that have been impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis.  After days of questions regarding whether an election can be effectively administered in the midst of social distancing and stay at home orders, Governor Jim Justice announced on Wednesday that the primary election will now take place on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.    

West Virginia is one of many states to see its primary election impacted by the coronavirus.  While some states have conducted elections in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, the National ...

Businesses Get Creative in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic   

While the coronavirus has disrupted nearly every aspect of our daily lives, it has also provided moments for many to shine.  Individuals and businesses alike have come together – metaphorically – in the midst of social distancing and mandatory stay at home orders to do what they can to help those in need. For example...

While hotels have been hit hard in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many owners have rallied to provide services for those still in need. In recent days, the American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched its “Hotels for Hope” initiative, which aims to boost ...

Governor Issues “Stay at Home Order” for all West Virginians

In the latest efforts by state officials to combat the spread of the coronavirus in West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced on Monday his issuance of a “Stay at Home Order” for the entire State of West Virginia.  The Stay at Home order goes into effect at 8:00 pm on Tuesday, March 24th and is in place until rescinded by subsequent Executive Order. 

As part of the order, the Governor has directed all West Virginia residents to stay home and limit their movement outside of the home only to those needs which are deemed “essential.”  The Governor’s Office lists the following ...

Posted in COVID-19
Congress Responds to Coronavirus Outbreak with Several Legislative Relief Packages

In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, federal and state officials alike have been scrambling to protect the public health of our citizens while simultaneously dealing with the economic fallout associated with efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus through quarantine measures. 

While West Virginia has seen the forced closure of schools, restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, health clubs and other recreational facilities, the United States Congress has been considering several legislative packages aimed at providing relief to the nation. 

To date, Congress has focused on three ...

W.Va. Legislature Completes 2020 Regular Session

The West Virginia Legislature concluded its regular legislative session this past Saturday, March 8th. The House of Delegates and State Senate both adjourned sine die at midnight, concluding the annual 60-day regular session that started January 8, 2020.

In sum, the Legislature passed 356 bills during the 60-day time frame, including 188 House bills and 168 Senate bills. That total is the highest number of bills to number complete legislative action over the past 20 years. Lawmakers and the public will now turn their eyes to the Governor as he is tasked with approving or vetoing ...

WV Legislature Kicks Off Sixty-Day Regular Session

Wednesday, November 8, 2020 marks the first day of the 60-day West Virginia legislative session. The House of Delegates and State Senate will gavel in and start business at noon on Wednesday. Lawmakers will organize during the day and then attend Governor Justice’s fourth State of the State Address starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.  At that time, the Governor is expected to lay out his legislative priorities and give a general update on what is happening throughout the state under his administration before the joint session of the Legislature.

Legislators will have 60 days to ...

Posted in Legislation
Legislators Tackle Interim Meetings and Impromptu Special Session

Members of the West Virginia Legislature made their way to Charleston this week not only for their regularly scheduled interim meetings, but also for a newly declared special session. Governor Justice called the Legislature into its second extraordinary session of the year by issuing a proclamation on November 14, 2019.

The Governor’s proclamation called for the Legislature to convene starting at noon on Monday, November 18, 2019, which coincided with the already scheduled November interim meetings.

Just three pieces of legislation were up for consideration by the State ...

State Budget Cuts Looming for West Virginia

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
Tourism Conference Highlights Key Driver of West Virginia’s Economy

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 ...

WV Supreme Court Primed to Decide Right to Work Challenge

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 ...

Agency Approved Rules Filed for Consideration

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 ...

State Supreme Court Issues Important Natural Gas Decisions

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 ...
Changes to State Campaign Finance Law Go Into Effect

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 ...
Industrial Hemp – Poised for Growth in West Virginia?

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 ...

As Legislative Interims Approach, Focus Shifts to Special Session on "Educational Betterment"

The 2019 Interim Committee dates have been formally announced, and legislators will return to Charleston in April (29-30), May (20-21), June (17-18), July (22-23), September (23-24), November (18-19) and December (16-17). 

This year, legislative leadership has chosen to move away from the somewhat traditional format of Sunday through Tuesday meetings in favor of a more focused schedule, similar to interim meetings implemented during Senate President Bill Cole’s tenure. 

As usual, the April Interim Meetings will be more condensed than the other monthly meetings, as the Joint ...

Governor's Veto Puts Medical Cannabis Program in Flux (Again)

Just when it looked like the state was prepared to move forward with the previously stalled West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act (the “Act”), another roadblock has again seemingly delayed implementation of the state’s previously enacted medical cannabis program.   

With the passage of SB 386 during the 2017 Legislative Session, state lawmakers established an initial two-year framework for implementing West Virginia’s medical cannabis program.  Now, a little less than three months from the July 1, 2019 launch date, the program hardly seems any closer to operation.   

While ...

2019 Legislative Session Postscript – What Did and Didn’t Go into Law

This past Wednesday, March 27, marked the constitutional deadline for West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to sign or veto any remaining legislation that had not been acted on since the Legislature adjourned Sine Die on March 9, 2019. 

Pursuant to Article 7, Section 14 of the West Virginia Constitution:

Any bill which shall not be returned by the governor within five days, Sundays excepted, after it shall have been presented to him shall be a law, in the same manner as if he had signed it, unless the Legislature shall, by adjournment sine die, prevent its return, in which case it shall be filed ...

Posted in Broadband
Broadband Expansion Efforts Continue in West Virginia

While much of the state’s infrastructure discussion this year has focused on the conditions of West Virginia’s secondary roads, policymakers quietly continue to make significant strides in another critical area of state infrastructure – broadband enhancement and development.

For years, West Virginia has lagged behind the rest of the nation with respect to the development of high-speed internet and other wireless technologies.  The lack of sufficient broadband infrastructure is often cited as a deterrent to jobs, with many parts of the state being underserved or even ...