How a WV bill becomes a law

BY DWAYNE BARTLEY, ABANDONED PROPERTIES COALITION AND POLICY VISTA, THE HUB

Bills undergo a pretty complicated process in order to become West Virginia law. But don’t worry, we’re here to clear up some of some of the confusion with this quick primer.

Getting Started

Once citizens, lobbyists, or legislators identify the issue they want to address, they prepare the text of the proposed bill or ask a staff attorney at the Capitol to do so. The Office of Legislative Services sets the standards for how the text should be written.

In order for a bill to be introduced into the Legislature, citizens must find a delegate or senator who is willing to sponsor the bill. Without at least one legislative sponsor, the bill isn’t eligible to be introduced into the legislative process.

After a sponsor is found, the proposed bill is introduced into the chamber of the bill’s lead sponsor – the House of Delegates for bills sponsored by delegates, the Senate for bills sponsored by state senators.

Considering Proposed Bills

Once introduced, the bill is referred to the appropriate committee(s) for consideration. The specific committee a bill ends up in is based on the subject matter of the proposed legislation. For example, transportation related bills are assigned to the chamber’s transportation and infrastructure committee.

Some bills are complex enough to warrant being assigned to multiple committees. For example, a bill might be about constructing a new road, however the bill also requires the Legislature to allocate funding to the construction project. Such a bill would likely have what’s called a “double committee reference.”

In the case mentioned above, the bill might be referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where it’s considered first. If a majority of the members of the committee vote yes, the bill is passed and then referred to the subsequent committee – finance, in our example – for further consideration.

If the bill successfully passes all committee assignments, it is delivered to the floor of the full chamber where it must be read three times before being voted on.

The first reading of the bill is meant to give legislators who haven’t seen the bill yet a chance to understand what it’s about. Often the first reading of bills is “dispensed with,” meaning that legislators opt to review the legislation on their own time.

The second reading of the bill is an opportunity for legislators to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the bill and offer any amendments they wish to make. The third reading of the bill gives time for legislators to debate the bill a final time before it’s put to a vote.

After the third reading, the bill is voted upon by the chamber’s membership. If defeated, the bill is permanently set aside. If it passes, the bill is communicated to the other legislative chamber for consideration.

Crossing Over

Once the bill is communicated to the other chamber or “crossed over,” it goes through an identical process of consideration. If it successfully passes committee(s) and a vote of the full chamber, the bill is sent back to the original chamber for “concourance” or agreement with any amendments that have been made. Then it is delivered to the governor for final consideration.

The Governor’s Role

The governor has three options for the pending legislation: sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow the bill to become law without signature. During the legislative session, the governor has only five days in which to sign or veto a pending bill. If the legislature is not in session, the governor has fifteen days to sign or veto a bill, with the exception of the state’s budget, which must be acted on within five days at all times. If no action is taken, the bill becomes law – even without the governor’s signature.

Bills vetoed by the governor can still become the law if a simple majority of both legislative chambers vote to override the veto. Budget bills are the exception and require a two-thirds majority of both houses to override a veto.

This is just a quick overview that can impact a bill’s progress through the legislative process—amendments, bills left off of committee agendas, etc. Hopefully, this overview has provided some insight into the basic process of lawmaking in West Virginia.

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For too long, who and what it means to be a West Virginian has been defined for us. It’s time to redefine the Mountain State in our own words and in the eyes of the world. West Virginia can be anything we want it to be – let’s redefine it together.

Parsons

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

Fifteen years ago, stakeholders building up local communities and economies in West Virginia convened to map a coordinated strategy to systemically grow community economic development activity in the state. From the shared vision and collaborative leadership of dozens of strategic partners across the state, the WV Community Development Hub was born.

Since that time, The Hub has grown into the anchor community development organization serving West Virginia. We have built upon the original vision to create a method for rural, community-led development strategies that is uniquely tailored to the needs and opportunities of our state.

As we have grown and developed a proven model for success, our partnerships with community and economic development practitioners, funders, and committed West Virginia residents have been foundational to every element of our work.

Over the past two years, the team at The Hub has adapted to the unprecedented challenges our communities have faced during the pandemic by leaning into our core strengths to deepen our impact. The Hub remains committed to tackling persistent challenges, and we have focused our attention on the most impactful elements of our work.

We are supporting community leaders to advance their visions for local development, creating new pathways for engagement and leadership growth through our virtual training platform, and leading strategies that lift up voices of community leaders to move forward solutions to long-held challenges to growth.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that nothing about the future is set in stone. While the coming year may present enormous opportunities for advancement in our state, they will also inevitably require significant capacity building, shared strategies that are grounded in trust-based partnerships, and extended efforts to support the leadership development of individuals and organizations who have been asked to do more during a time of extreme stress and strain.

The services that anchor organizations like The Hub provide are even more critical in this time, and we expect our work to scale significantly in the coming years ahead.

We look forward to continuing to do the work of putting into action the vision and the shared strategies envisioned by that core group of community economic development practitioners and funders fifteen years ago.

In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Emma Pepper

Director of Strategic Network Communications

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Systemic Change

2021 became a time period of catalytic potential as we saw years of investment into our core strategies to enact systemic change yield new results. Our strategic focus areas include policy, communications, and supporting the community economic development system in leveraging unique financing opportunities such as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and Opportunity Zones.

In addition, through our strategic policy support role within the Abandoned Properties Coalition, The Hub successfully advanced two key objectives: the creation of a statewide land bank at the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation and extension of the state’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. 

Through the Opportunity Appalachia program, 6 catalytic community projects located in WV-based Opportunity Zones received $250,000 for pre-development technical assistance. Three projects received additional private funding as a result of program participation.

Community Coaching

In 2021, we accompanied 16 communities through our in-depth, professional coaching programs. In addition to leaning into coaching and financing opportunities offered through these programs, participating communities leveraged an additional $2.8 million in funding on their own for community economic development projects. While participating in our entry-level coaching program, Cultivate WV, Montgomery and Smithers realized momentum-building success through access to $40,000 in seed funding for projects like farmers markets, public art, wayfinding, community events, and development of a trail system.

Six communities, Lewis County, Kingwood, Meadow River Valley, Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Parsons, graduated the intermediate planning program Blueprint Communities* with strategic plans in place. We also launched a new round of HubCAP, our flagship community economic development program, in six towns located in the Monongahela National Forest region: Cowen, Franklin, White Sulphur Springs, Elkins, Marlinton, and Petersburg.

Elkins

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Franklin

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Marlinton

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

White Sulphur Springs

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

Charleston

A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Leadership Development

As hundreds of people began to engage in our virtual training activities in 2020, we saw a critical opportunity to scale and deepen our impact. This year, The Hub team developed an accessible, virtual platform with options for self-guided and group learning activities as well as professional coaching.

Kickstart Communities is now the crux of our efforts to bring new people into the work and grow their leadership. These activities now form the foundational stages of a Community Leadership Development Pipeline to move motivated residents from seeing the challenges in their communities to proactively collaborating to resolve them.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.