Sunday, June 16, 2024
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Senate Takes Action on 3 Bills Monday Night

The Senate took action on three bills over the course of three brief floor sessions Monday evening.

The body concurred in the House amendment to complete action on Senate Bill 1015. The bill requires deposits into the Rainy Day Fund up to 20 percent of the average of the base appropriations made in annual budget bills for the three prior fiscal years. The approved House amendment to the legislation removes the Department of Revenue’s discretion to deposit more than 20 percent, setting a hard cap.

The Senate amended the House amendment to Senate Bill 1001, which would return cut funding to the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Human Services (DoHS). The legislation would restore more than $5 million for DoH and more than $183 million for DoHS. The bill creates reserve funds in both departments for the restored funding.

The legislation as it passed the Senate Sunday evening would allow the secretaries of the departments to transfer money out of a new reserve fund to provide money for other line items, such as Medicaid and the intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) waiver program. However, the bill has no specific directives requiring DoHS to transfer those monies to those programs. The bill would require the secretaries to file monthly reports to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance to explain any transfers. It would also prevent any expenditures from these appropriations after March 30, 2025, returning any remaining funding in those line items back to the general revenue fund.

The House amended the bill Monday to require DoHS to use some of the $183 million for specific line items. The new version of the bill would have required DoHS use $10.3 million to increase provider rates for Title 19 aged and disabled waiver program, $10.7 million to increase provider rates for the IDD waiver program, $6.6 million to increase provider rates for personal care services, and $135,000 to increase provider rates for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) waiver program.

The Senate responded by rejecting the House amendment and amending the bill back to the original form that passed Sunday night, which restores the funding and gives the secretaries the discretion to use it, but provides no specific line items.

Later in the evening the House refused to concur and asked the Senate to recede from their amendment that restores the bill to its original form. Senate Bill 1001 remains the lone bill left to work on in the Special Session.

Finally, the Senate suspended the constitutional rules requiring a bill be read on three separate days to complete action on House Bill 113, which will prohibit payment to residential substance use disorder treatment facilities that do not meet certain requirements. Senator Mike Woelfel (D -Cabell, 05) explained that the legislation requires the facilities to have accreditation as well as licensing, two things he said should help to eliminate exploitative facilities. He shared his belief that with the passage of this bill, West Virginia will lead the country in best practices in this area.

The Senate is adjourned until tomorrow, May 21, at Noon.

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