Legislative Action by the Numbers:
1140 bills introduced in the House of Delegates
632 bills introduced in the State Senate
176 bills have passed the House of Delegates
229 bills have passed the State Senate
20 bills have been signed into law by the Governor
7 bills are pending the Governor's review and signature
My View from the Capitol:
After the first statewide strike in nearly 30 years, Governor Justice and leaders from the American Federation of Teachers - WV, WV Education Association, and the WV School Service Personnel Association reached an agreement Tuesday evening regarding a five percent pay raise for teachers and a three percent pay raise for all other public employees.
Governor Justice stated this was possible after revenue estimates for Fiscal Year 2019 were increased by $58 million. The Governor cited federal tax reform, a growing national economy, and projected revenue from state road projects as the reason for the increased revenue estimates.
The Governor also announced the creation of a task force to explore solutions to rising PEIA (Public Employees Insurance Agency) costs. The creation of this task force does not affect the previously announced "freeze" of PEIA benefits and premiums for the next 18 months.
Teachers have continued to return to the State Capitol with continued protests, saying they are unhappy with the deal and are demanding an immediate and permanent solution to PEIA. In line with that sentiment, the West Virginia Senate pumped the brakes on a bill that would give teachers, school service personnel, and state troopers a five percent raise.
Instead, Senate President Mitch Carmichael sent the legislation to the Senate Finance Committee to change it and create a long-term revenue source for PEIA health insurance coverage. With only eight Legislative days remaining, this will absolutely be the issue that, until addressed, could potentially derail a majority of pending legislation.
The Co-Tenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act (HB 4268) is close to becoming law. The bill would allow development of a mineral property if 75 percent of the owners consent, as opposed to current law which requires 100 percent of owners to consent. The bill allows for compensation of dissenting owners and establishes a fund to hold payments for mineral owners who cannot be found. The bill passed the House, has completed the committee process in the Senate, and is on second reading today on the Senate floor.
Legislative Calendar - Important Days to Remember
First Day - January 10
20th Day - January 28 - Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review Bills due
35th Day - February 13 - Last day to introduce bills in the House
41st Day - February 19 - Last day to introduce bills in the Senate
47th Day - February 25 - Bills due out of committee in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings
50th Day - February 28 - Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin. Does not apply to the budget bill or supplemental appropriation bills.
60th Day - March 10 - Adjournment at midnight
News From Around the State
Pay Raise Bill Being Assigned To Senate Finance; Crowds Gather Again