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 tackle a whole host of issues and challenges facing our state. Expect the Legislature to focus on economic development, foster care issues, criminal justice reform, substance abuse, and the state’s budget.
Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay County) plans to introduce a bill to encourage investment in West Virginia. The Speaker is hopeful that new legislation could spark capital investment throughout the state and possibly encourage progress on the China Energy MOU that was previously announced by the Justice administration.
Members of the Joint Committee on Health got a jumpstart on the session by discussing the state’s foster care system earlier this week during interims. Members of the committee heard presentations on draft legislation relating to the adoption process in the state, updating foster care laws, providing authority to a foster care ombudsman and assisting child protective service workers. Look for multiple bills regarding these issues to be introduced and taken up in the first few weeks of the 2020 Legislative Session.
During the 2019 legislative interim committee meetings, lawmakers heard a lot about the overcrowding of the state’s prison system and how criminal justice reforms can help alleviate those problems. It is anticipated that lawmakers will draft and introduce several pieces of legislation with the goals of helping those currently in the prison system get reacclimated and into the workforce while also relieving the burden of overpopulation in our state prison system.
Wednesday, January 8 may be the first day of the regular session, but keep these important dates in mind as well:
- Twentieth Day –January 27, 2020: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)
- Thirty-fifth Day – February 11, 2020: Last day to introduce bills in the House. House Rule 91a does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.
- Forty-first Day – February 17, 2020: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Senate Rule 14 does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.
- Forty-seventh Day – February 23, 2020: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.
- Fiftieth Day – February 26, 2020: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5, paragraph b)
- Sixtieth Day – March 7, 2020: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)
Many important new measures will be considered by the Legislature in the coming weeks and months. The Bowles Rice Government Relations team is heavily involved in the legislative process and stands ready and willing to assist clients with any questions they may have as different pieces of legislation work their way through the Legislature. For more updates, be sure to follow the Bowles Rive Government Relations team on Twitter @GovtRelationsWV.