What happens when multiple bills are passed about the same topic?

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

With the thousands of bills introduced in the legislature each year, it’s a fair bet that some of those bills propose similar policy solutions. So, what happens when more than one bill addresses the same topic?

Simply put, the bill that passes last – or closest to the end of the legislative session – is the one that changes the state code. We’ll get to how this plays out in practice, but first it’s important to understand a few key elements of how bills are put together:

It’s important to remember that each proposed bill does one of two things to the State Code. Either, it proposes an addition, or it proposes a change to the state code. The specific part of the code that the bill impacts or “opens up,” is always listed with the text of the bill. This is how you’d look up the existing law if you needed to. 

Bills that propose a change to an existing section of code include that section of code along with the proposed changes. The existing part of the code is the part of the bill that is not underlined. It looks like this:  

If a bill changes part of the code, the underlined section will be in the middle of the non-underlined text. If the bill creates a new section of code, the whole thing will be underlined. The changes that a bill would make are underlined and look like this: 

How This Plays Out at the Legislature

As I mentioned before, the last bill that passes is the one that changes the code. That’s true both for underlined and non-underlined sections of the code.

Here’s an example of how that works:

  1. Imagine that right now the state code reads that “pepperoni rolls are considered to be the state food of West Virginia,” but no other language is included. 
  2. Now imagine that there are two bills at the legislature that “open up” the part of the code that deals with our state food. 
    1. Bill A says that pepperoni rolls are considered the state food of WV, provided that they contain pepperoni slices, rather than sticks. And provided that they do not contain any kind of sauce.
    2. Bill B says that pepperoni rolls are considered the state food of WV, provided that they contain pepperoni sticks rather than slices.
  3. If Bill B passes last, pepperoni rolls with sticks are now the state food, but because the original code says nothing about the sauce, the official state food could now be a pepperoni roll which includes both sticks and sauce. (A result we can all agree is simply unacceptable.)

 

These mechanics can impact funding sources for projects if multiple bills suggest using the same funding source in different ways. Similarly, if two bills propose different solutions to the same problem, the order in which these bills are passed becomes incredibly important.

As the end of the legislative session gets closer, citizen lobbyists know that it pays to keep an eye on bills that open up the same part of the code as the bills that they care most about. If many bills come up about the same thing, legislators often work to combine them to ensure that conflicts like the one in the example above don’t happen.

This can be an opportunity to work with legislators to make sure that their desired outcomes are represented in the combined bill, or that a case is made for why their policy solution makes the most sense.

The state code can be a daunting thing to think about. But, even if you’re not someone who cracks the code open regularly, understanding how and when bills change the code can help you make sure that your voice is heard at the legislature. 

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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.