We have hit the much-discussed Crossover Day deadline and only 448 bills remain standing that have passed the House and/or Senate.
Forty of these have completed legislation. And, if we take last year as a guide, we can expect only about half the remaining bills to be passed on to the Governor between now and the end of the Legislative Session next Saturday.
We’ve got the rundown on what bills that matter to us from a community and/or economic development standpoint survived Crossover Day. It’s a total of about 25 bills, and while each of these bills has achieved the significant goal of being passed out of one chamber, there is still much work to do – and many opportunities to get stalled and die in the days ahead.
Bills that have Passed or are Set for a Final Vote this Week
Raw Milk – SB 387
Update: Gov. Tomblin signed SB 387 into law on Friday morning, stating new provisions had eased his concerns about public health.
This Senate bill allowing for cow sharing and raw milk consumption passed out of the Legislature on Friday and was sent to the Governor’s desk.
A bill allowing raw milk was vetoed by Governor Tomblin towards the end of the 2015 session. SB 387 differs from the 2015 bill in allowing for herd-sharing and consumption of raw milk from those herd owners. The bill moved quickly through the Legislature in an effort to give them time to override his veto if it happens again.
Counties Allowed to Hire Outside Attorneys to Collect Delinquent Property Taxes – SB 27
This bill provides authority to counties to seek additional resources in pursuing civil judgment against property owners who fail to pay their property taxes.
The bill passed the Senate in early February and has made it through its House committee assignments (skipping one committee entirely.) It is set to be voted on by the House, with expected passage, on Friday March 1.
Bills that are Up for Committee Consideration This Week
A number of bills we are interested in have been fast-tracked for consideration by committees since Wednesday. Eight bills we’re watching are up for discussion this week.
Cigarette Tax Increase – SB 420
The House Finance Committee spent all Thursday morning and afternoon considering Senate Bill 420, the bill proposing to increase West Virginia’s cigarette tax rate.
Originally written to be a 45 cent increase, the Senate amended it to be a $1 increase before sending it over to the House. A committee substitute was proposed to reduce the tax back to 45 cents and to restrict what tobacco products are taxed.
The substitute failed along a 21-3 committee roll call vote. This vote effectively serves to kill the Tobacco Tax bill and re-energizes the question about how budget holes will be filled now that the Governor’s two proposals, a cigarette tax and a cellphone tax, have both been rejected by the Legislature.
Brunch Bill – SB 298
Unexpectedly, the Brunch Bill was taken up by the House Roads & Transportation Committee on Thursday, without being posted on the committee’s agenda. The bill was amended to allow for counties to individually pass county referendums allowing for the sale of alcohol after 10 a.m. on Sundays. The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee before it can be voted and passed by the House.
The Pickle Bill – SB 434
The bill allowing for the sale of pickles and other home-based micro-processed foods to be sold at farmers markets made it through the Senate after multiple hours of discussion in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
After this discussion and some amendments, which significantly limited the bill, it was passed unanimously by the Senate. It was up for discussion by the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday but was not passed.
Time is running out for this bill, with the need for it to get through both the Agriculture and Health and Human Resources Committee in the next week.
Samples Allowed at Places that Growler Sale Locations – SB 478
The House Health and Human Resources Committee considered SB 478 on Thursday afternoon, which allows for growler sale locations to provide beer samples of the beers for growler purchasers. The bill passed out of Health and Human Resources but is also double-referenced and must be taken up and passed by the House Judiciary Committee to make it to the House floor for a final vote.
Upper Kanawha Valley Resiliency and Revitalization Program – SB 656
Passed by the Senate the day before Crossover Day, this bill would create a program to identify and prioritize existing resources (including technical assistance support, services, and resources) that can be directed to support economic development and community revitalization efforts in the Upper Kanawha Valley communities of Pratt, Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge.
The bill is up for discussion in the House Government Organization Committee on Friday morning and will go straight to the House floor if passed by that committee.
Small Business Capital Act – HB 2615
Known commonly as the “crowdfunding bill”, this bill allows for the creation of crowdfunding businesses in West Virginia. It is up for discussion in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday morning. It is single referenced and will go to the Senate floor for a vote if it passes out of that committee.
Relating to the WV Institute of Technology – HB 4310
A bill that inspired some hours of debate – and a number of passionate speeches – on the House floor, this bill would revise the West Virginia State Code to allow WV Tech to move from Montgomery to Beckley.
The bill is single referenced to the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to be up for a final vote on the Senate floor early next week. Expect more impassioned speeches by Senators from Fayette, Kanawha and Raleigh County at that time.
Expanding Learn & Earn Program – HB 4322
This bill expands the state’s Learn & Earn Program to try to encourage more participation in the workforce development program. The bill was requested by the Governor and was taken up by its single committee reference in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday afternoon, but did not pass out of the Committee that day.
Bills Still Waiting to be Put on Committee Agendas
Both broadband bills that passed out of the Senate have not yet been placed on the agendas of the committee where they are referenced. SB 16 (the broadband tax credit) is single reference to House Finance and SB 315 (the amended middle mile bill) is double-referenced to House Roads and Transportation and House Judiciary.
Neighborhood Investment Program Act – SB 293
The Neighborhood Investment Program Act, which we’ve discussed multiple times during this session, has been single referenced to the House Finance Committee. It is expected to be taken up next week but it not yet assigned to the committee’s public agenda.
Tax Credits for Donations of Fresh Produce to Food Banks – SB 399
A bill being championed by the WV Food and Farm Coalition, SB 399 was passed by the Senate on Monday and was single-referenced to the House Finance Committee. It has not yet been taken up by that committee.
Second Chance Employment Bill – SB 411
A bill allowing for the expungement of non-violent felons records after a period of time passed the Senate over the weekend. A similar bill was introduced in the House earlier in the session but never got traction.
There is now concern that SB 411 has stalled in the House and will not be taken up by its first committee reference. It has to get through both the House Industry and Labor Committee and the Judiciary Committee.