CHARLESTON — The Legislative Session continues at the West Virginia State Capitol this week, with both the House and Senate hosting committee hearings and passing bills.
As previously reported, on Tuesday, the House passed H.B. 2012, which relates to public charter schools. According to reporting on the West Virginia Legislature Blog, among provisions, this bill would add virtual public charter schools as an option and would increase the total of number of potential public charter schools. The Bill now heads to the Senate for their consideration.
Voting for this bill in the House were Delegates Jonathan Pinson (R) and Josh Higginbotham (R) of the 13th District and Johnnie Wamsley of the 14th District. The bill passed 66 to 32 total votes.
As reported by the Associated Press in yesterday’s Register, all Democrats voted against the bill which now goes to the Senate. According to AP reporting, the bill would increase the number of charter schools allowed every three years from three to 10. It also would allow for online-only charter schools, among other things.
Educators and Democrats argued that the move to install charters was driven by outside interests that will steer money away from public schools, according to the AP.
“We’re a diverse state. We have different geographic regions that have different needs,” said Delegate Joe Ellington, a Mercer County Republican and the bill’s sponsor to the AP. “This just gives opportunity. If people don’t want to take advantage of that opportunity, they don’t have to. So it’s strictly voluntary.”
The House also passed a separate bill that would establish investment accounts for vocational and trade students similar to college savings accounts. It now moves to the Senate.
On Wednesday, the House also passed H.B. 2019, which seeks to reorganize and redesignate the Development Office as the Department of Economic Development and the Tourism Office as the Department of Tourism to “reflect the importance of economic development and of tourism programs and initiatives in this state,” according to reporting from the legislature blog. Voting for this bill in the House were Delegates Pinson, Higginbotham and Wamsley. The bill passed 86 to 13 total votes.
The Senate this week also passed its first bills of the Regular Session.
Among the bills passed, S.B. 9 continues the Licensed Racetrack Modernization Fund. S.B. 10 modifies the due date of the racetrack table game renewal license fee from July 1 to Oct. 1. This action is in line with many of the Governor’s modifications to fee dates during the pandemic, according to the legislature’s blog.
S.B. 78 corrects erroneous cross-references within the section of code relating to factors considered in awarding spousal support and separate maintenance.
Voting yes for these three bills was State Senator Amy Grady of the Fourth Senatorial District.
Both S.B. 9 and 10 both passed 30 votes to two votes; S.B. 78 was passed with 32 total votes and no votes against the legislation.
Senate bills scheduled to be introduced Wednesday were:
SB 302: Prohibiting gender-based price discrimination;
SB 303: Creating Local Government Labor and Consumer Marketing Regulatory Limitation Act;
SB 304: Requiring Secretary of State maintain online database of religious organizations;
SB 305: Providing exemption from consumers sales and service tax for certain aircraft maintenance;
SB 306: Relating to removal of animals left unattended in motor vehicles;
SB 307: Relating generally to in-state tuition rates for certain persons;
SB 308: Modifying requirement that racetrack participate in WV Thoroughbred Development Fund by certain date;
SB 309: Creating felony offense of aggravated cruelty to animals;
SB 310: Providing for nonpartisan elections of county prosecuting attorneys;
SB 311: Relating to acquisition and disposition of property by urban development authority;
SB 312: Allowing state and federal criminal history record check of each adult living in residence when minor child is placed there due to emergency;
SB 313: Authorizing year-round hunting of coyote;
SB 314: Regulating pawnbrokers;
SB 315: Protecting consumers against businesses using automatic renewals without consent;
SB 316: Eliminating suspension of driver’s license for failure to pay court fines and costs;
SB 317: Providing protection from civil liability for certain individuals rescuing animals locked in unattended vehicles;
SB 318: Relating generally to public notice of unclaimed property held by State Treasurer;
SB 319: Relating to establishing Community Health Equity Initiative Demonstration Project;
SB 320: Allowing workers’ compensation benefits for first responders diagnosed with PTSD;
SB 321: Clarifying and updating language regarding Fairmont State alumni license plates;
SB 322: Relating generally to the payment of salary or wages under the Parental Leave Act;
SB 323: Prohibiting Natural Resources Commission from establishing bag limit for antlered deer;
SB 324: Clarifying municipal B&O taxation where business activity occurs;
SB 325: Repealing article relating to mandatory motor vehicle state inspections.
Information for this story provided by the West Virginia Legislature Blog found at https://blog.wvlegislature.gov/. Additional information provided by Ann Ali, communications director, West Virginia House of Delegates and Jacque Bland, director of communications, West Virginia Senate. Additional reporting from The Associated Press.
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