BY TAYLOR BENNETT, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
The 2019 session was a record breaking one, with 155 Senate bills and 139 House bills passed – the most in recent history. Of these bills, though, only a few of the ones we thought would impact WV communities the most made it through.
Taking a look back at what sort of bills moved and which ones didn’t provides valuable insight into where legislators directed most of their attention this year and where citizen lobbyists might need to be more involved next time around.
SB 1 – Increasing access to career education and workforce training
- This is the free community and technical college bill. The bill passed with provisions only for community and technical colleges and includes a stipulation that participants be drug tested.
SB 317 – Authorizing three or more adjacent counties to form a trail network authority
- We’ve talked about this bill and others similar to it a lot this session. This bill allows counties to create a trail network authority to help promote and manage regional trail networks in WV.
SB 622 – Relating to financing of elections
- This is the first time we’re discussing this bill. It increases the amount of money that political candidates are able to receive from donors for their campaigns.
SB 29 – Creating a 10 year tax credit on post coal mine sites
- This bill would have given businesses an incentive for choosing to locate on post coal mine sites through a 10 year tax credit.
- It was passed through the Senate, but never made it through the Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Committee in the House.
SB 117 – Incentives for consolidation of local governments
- This bill would have given local governments which consolidate a number of benefits related to infrastructure and municipal/ county revenue.
- It passed through the Senate but was never put on the agenda for the House Government Organization Committee.
SB 118 – Creating an independent redistricting committee
- Currently, there are several pieces of legislation that call for the redistricting of the WV House of Delegates and the Senate. This bill would have created an independent redistricting committee to draw those district lines.
- Since this bill didn’t pass, district lines will be determined by a committee selected by whomever is in leadership in the House and Senate when it comes time to get to work.
SB 383 – Creating the WV Healthy Food Crop Block Grant Program
- This bill would have created grants for farmers who grow healthy crops for community nutrition programs. It was passed through the Senate but never made it out of the House Finance Committee.
HB 3024 – Business Ready Sites Program
- This bill provides funding to run infrastructure like electricity and water/sewer to potential sites for large businesses. Legislative actions were completed on the last day of session.
HB 2309 – Allowing municipalities to cancel elections when only one person is running
- We’ve talked about this bill before and how it could have helped smaller municipalities save money by not having to hold elections when there is only one person on the ballot for each office.
- This bill never made it out of the House.
HB 2484 – Establishing the Mountaineer Trail Network Authority
- While this bill didn’t pass, SB 317 did, allowing the Mountaineer Trail Network to create an authority anyway.
- Each of these bills would have provided varying degrees of tax credits for new and/or existing small businesses.
- All of them failed to pass through both chambers of the Legislature.
HB 2769 – Citizen and State Accountability Act
- This bill would have required all municipalities and state agencies who apply for a major grant to submit their proposal to the Governor for review.
- This bill died in the House Political Subdivisions Committee.
HB 2871 – Increasing the State minimum wage
- This bill would have increase WV’s minimum wage to $12.00 per hour in increments over the next 3 years.
- The bill died in the House Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Committee.