Omega Covid 19 2020 1120x140 1

The 2020 Regular Legislative Session proved to be extraordinarily busy in that a record 355 bills were sent to Governor Justice’s desk for a signature.

Below is a summary of the high points.

March 7th, The House concurred with the Senate amendments to Senate Bill 150, the Budget Bill, and completed legislation on it.

The Budget Bill allocates $108 million to fully eliminate the wait list for the I/DD Waiver. This was a priority for this session by both bodies of the legislature and Governor Jim Justice. The budget allocates $16.8 million for the foster care system within the state under House Bill 4092. The budget also provides $3.3 million to fund a second location for the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, which is a program that trains and mentors at-risk youths from the ages of 16-18 in a 22-week program.

The House concurred with the Senate amendment and provided an additional amendment to House Bill 4092. House Bill 4092 provides major structural change to the state’s struggling foster care system and seeks to address many issues. One of the most important parts of the bill is a per diem rate increase for foster and kinship families.

Senate Bill 597 provides a five percent pay raise for Supreme Court Justices, circuit court judges and magistrates. The last time there was a judicial pay raise was in 2011. Originally, the amount of the raise in Senate Bill 597 was higher, but the House Finance Committee amended this amount to mirror the five percent pay raise that state employees received the previous year. This raise will be implemented July 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 275, establishing an Intermediate Court of Appeals, failed to meet the required majority vote necessary for passage in the House on Friday. This has been an important and widely discussed bill during the legislative session.

SB 111 Relating generally to tobacco usage and e-cigarette restrictions
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the penalty for using tobacco and tobacco-derived products on school property. It defines e-cigarette and prohibits e-cigarettes on certain public school property by persons under the age of 18 at certain times; and provides a penalty for e-cigarette offenses on public school property.

SB 208 Protecting consumers from unfair pricing practices during state of emergency
Completed legislative action

SB 209 Relating to annexation by minor boundary adjustment
Signed by the Governor
Amending code related to minor boundary adjustments.

SB 227 Creating Local Government Labor and Consumer Marketing Regulatory Limitation Act
Failed to be taken up for consideration
The purpose of this bill is to create the Local Government Labor and Consumer Marketing Regulatory Limitation Act. The bill prohibits political subdivisions from enacting any ordinance, regulation, local policy, local resolution or other legal requirements regulating certain areas of the employer-employee relationship and the sale or marketing of consumer merchandise. The bill sets forth prohibited areas of regulation. The identifies exceptions. The bill sets forth a purpose, defines terms and provides for private causes of action.

SB 268 Relating to certain waivers for SNAP benefits
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to seek a waiver within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to allow that benefits issued under the Supplemental Nutrition Program be limited to purchases with the same of similar nutritional value as under the Women’s, Infant and Children Program (WIC). The bill requires that secretary to coordinate with appropriate state agencies involved in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program toward seeking the waiver and to report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability in December 2020 concerning its progress.

SB 526 Requiring DHHR seek waiver within SNAP seeking exclusion of sweetened beverages and energy drinks from program
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to request a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture to conduct a pilot program to evaluate whether restricting access to sweetened beverages and energy drinks raises levels of nutrition among recipients.

SB 538 Repealing excise tax on soft drinks
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to repeal the article imposing excise tax on soft drinks.

SB 619 Relating to motor fuel excise tax
Failed to be taken up for consideration
The purpose of this bill is to create an annual adjustment to the motor fuel excise tax and provide for a mechanism for calculating the adjustment.

SB 735 Relating to excise tax on tobacco products
Failed to be taken up for consideration
The purpose of this bill is to increase the excise tax on cigarettes to $2.00 on each 20 cigarettes or in like ratio on any part thereof; and to increase the excise tax on sales of e-cigarette liquid at the rate of $1.00 per milliliter or fraction thereof, or if not sold, then at the same rate upon the use by the wholesaler or dealer.

SB 837 Providing exemptions from ad valorem taxes on certain kinds of personal property
Passed the Senate. Failed to be taken up for consideration in the House.
The purpose of the bill is to remove the tax on manufacturing equipment and inventory and automobile personal property tax. Would also raise the sales tax and the excise tax on tobacco and vape products.

SJR 9 Motor vehicle and other personal property tax reduction amendment Failed to pass the Senate
Constitutional amendment to remove the requirement for equipment and inventory tax

HB 2477 Establishing different rates of taxation for tobacco products for certain

The purpose of this bill is to provide different tobacco products tax rates in certain counties of the state.

HB 2478 Modifying the Fair Trade Practices Act
Completed legislative action
The purpose of this bill is to modify the Fair Trade Practices Act with regard to costs and damages.

HB 4035 Relating to posting of the alcoholic content of gasoline
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to require warning labels on gas pumps when the ethanol content of its gasoline exceeds 10 percent.

HB 4113 Relating to motor fuel excise taxes
Completed legislative action
The purpose of this bill is to provide exemption for fuel used in power take off unit of a fuel delivery truck and allow refunds of all motor fuel taxes if fuel lost through casualty.

HB 4467 Relating to the posting of information regarding the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline
Failed to be taken up for consideration
The purpose of this bill is to require the tobacco quit line to be posted at certain locations.

HB 4493 Relating to age verification requirements for delivery sales of tobacco
Passed out of the House Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse Committee, failed to advance further.
The purpose of this bill is to mandate that mail carriers check photo identification when delivering tobacco, tobacco related products, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products.

HB 4565 Prohibiting the use of polystyrene containers
Failed to be taken up for consideration
The purpose of this bill is to prohibit the use of polystyrene containers.

HB 4611 Relating to fireworks
Completed legislative action
The purpose of this bill is to reduce fees for retail fireworks sales locations and to allow a fireworks retailer to combine and pay applicable fees in a single payment.

HB 4650 Lowering the excise tax on cigarettes
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to lower the excise tax rate on the sale of cigarettes.

HB 4652 Relating to tobacco usage restrictions
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the age for the purchase of tobacco products, tobacco- derived products, and alternative nicotine products from 18 to 21. This bill also changes the way businesses are fined for the underage sale of tobacco products, tobacco-derived products, or alternative nicotine products. This bill further eliminates tobacco use in schools.

HB 4741 Reducing the motor fuel excise tax
Failed to be taken up for consideration
The purpose of this bill is to reduce the tax on motor fuel.

HB 4751 Providing a tax credit for dues paid to trade associations
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to provide a tax credit for dues paid to trade associations.

HB 4764 Raising the excise tax on e-cigarettes
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the excise tax on E-cigarettes equal to the tax on 20

HB 4770 Changing the beginning time for beer and wine sales on Sunday from one p.m. to 10 a.m.
Failed to be taken up for consideration.
The purpose of this bill is to allow the sale of beer and wine beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays.

Action on other legislation of interest to the business community in the final days of the session:

HB 2646Wage & Hour Safe Harbor
Completed legislative action
Providing a safe harbor for employers to correct underpayment or nonpayment of wages and benefits due to separated employees.

HB 4001Establishing the Mountaineer Impact Fund
Completed legislative action
One of House Speaker Roger Hanshaw’s top priorities is establishing a capital investment fund that would let the state partner with companies or the sovereign funds of other nations.

HB 4090Abandoned Gas & Oil Well Plugging Fund
Completed legislative action
Creating the Oil and Gas Abandoned Well Plugging Fund.

HB 4615 – West Virginia Critical Infrastructure Protection Act
Completed legislative action
This bill would protect critical infrastructure in West Virginia by adding a new criminal penalty for anyone who knowingly damages, destroys, vandalizes, defaces or tampers with equipment at a critical infrastructure project.

HB 4619 – Electric Utility Middle-Mile Broadband
Completed legislative action
Approving plans proposed by electric utilities to install middle-mile broadband fiber.

SB 138 - Incentives for consolidating local governments.
Failed to complete legislative action
Senate Bill 138 provides incentives to local governments that consolidate. The bill does not force or require consolidation in any way; it only provides incentives for local governments to do so.

HB 2088 - Relating to admissibility of evidence regarding seat-belt use
Failed to complete legislative action
HB 2088 would allow evidence as to whether an individual was wearing a seat belt in a vehicle crash to be admissible in court.

If you have any questions contact Government Affairs Director Daniel Hall at daniel@omegawv.com.

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