The West Virginia legislative session wrapped up on April 9, and we were wondering what happened to those proposals introduced that pertain to community development.
And below is all the pertinent info about the other community development-related proposals that were in the mix.
HB 2453- Expanding Industrial Hemp
House Bill 2453 passed the Senate and House unanimously this session. The bill, sponsored by Delegates Eldridge, Butler, and Summers, alters the 2014 Industrial Hemp Development Act to allow the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture to expand licensing of more qualified individuals and state institutions of higher learning to grow or cultivate industrial hemp in West Virginia.
Americans already safely purchase $580 million worth of hemp-based products imported each year. Now West Virginia is a step closer to tapping into that market. Interested in learning more? Here’s our deep dive into the Industrial Hemp proposal.
HB 2724- Creating a Public Health Pilot Program
House Bill 2724 was introduced by Minority Leader Tim Miley and Speaker Tim Armstead at the request of Governor Justice, and passed both chambers to become law this session.
The legislation will result in the creation of a community-based pilot program to address poverty, substance abuse, and other determinants of health. The pilot project aims to develop a comprehensive model which be utilized to promote public health in communities throughout the Mountain State.
HB 3093- Establishing Broadband Expansion and Enhancement Policies (BEEP)
House Bill 3093 passed both the House and Senate, however, the proposal has yet to receive the Governor’s seal of approval. Given that West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation in broadband access, the Hub believes this bill is crucial to pass this session.
The revenue-neutral proposal aims to increase access to broadband across the state by allowing municipalities and counties to form nonprofit broadband cooperatives, expand the role of the state Broadband Council to collect a range of meaningful data, identify innovative solutions, and posit policy recommendations.
The bill would also aim to eliminate barriers to broadband installation by ensuring ready-pole access and the use of micro-trenching techniques, while safeguarding consumers by prohibiting internet providers from advertising or contracting for “up to” speeds.
If you’re interested in advocating for this proposal, here’s how you can tell Governor Jim Justice to sign it into law.
SB 341- Establishing WV Business Growth in Low-income Communities Tax Credit
Sponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators, Senate Bill 341 unanimously passed a vote by the full Senate and was sent to the House, where it passed the House Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development, and was sent to House Finance. It was never placed on the House Finance agenda and died in committee.
If passed, SB 341 would have established a tax credit program available in West Virginia’s low-income communities, aimed at spurring economic growth and business activities.
SB 27- Permitting sale of Home-based, Micro-processed Foods at Farmers Markets
Following unanimous passage in the Senate, Senate Bill 27 was ordered to the House on March 21 and sent to the Health and Human Resources Committee, where it was amended and sent to the floor.
The House passed the bill and sent it back to the Senate, where it was amended once again. The Senate then requested the House concur with their amendments, however, the chamber failed to respond and the proposal died.
SB 27 would have permitted farmers market vendors to apply for a microprocessor permit to allow for the sale of certain micro-processed foods like jams, jellies, honey, pickles and sauces at West Virginia farmers markets.
SB 294- Community Sustainability Investment Pilot Program
Senate Bill 294 passed the Senate unanimously on Crossover Day. Subsequently, the proposal was ordered to the House on Wednesday, March 29. In the House, the bill received a single reference to House Finance, where it failed to prevail in a very competitive process to be placed on the Finance agenda.
The proposal would have created a matching community development grant fund designed to “foster the implementation of innovative planning strategies to develop and expand communities that can maximize emerging economic opportunities and environmental challenges and thrive in the Twenty-First Century.”
Funding could have been used to provide tech advances, develop community centers, arts, cultural and recreational facilities, aesthetic improvements to existing community entities and infrastructure, diversity programming, as well as the development of renewable or alternative sources of energy.