Friday, March 31, 2023

House Refuses to Concur with Two Senate Amendments on House Bills

During this morning’s floor session, the House refused to concur on two Senate-amended House Bills, concurred to complete legislative action on eight Senate-amended bills, adopted 14 resolutions, and passed all 18 bills on third reading.

The House refused to concur with Senate amendments on House Bill 3261 and House Bill 3302.

House Bill 3261 allows for an extension for provisional social work licenses to complete requirements to become fully licensed if the individual loses their employment during a force reduction or is unable to work due to medical reasons.

The Senate amended bill adds a new section of code to allow the Bureau of Social Services to employ individuals who are not registered as social workers as CPS workers, youth services workers, case managers, and clerical staff in areas where social work vacancies have reached over 25% of the allocation. The requirements provided are: (1) Must be 18; (2) Must have an associates degree in social work or a related field or be a retired law enforcement officer; (3) have three letters of recommendation; (4) Not be an alcohol or drug abuser; and (5) Satisfy requirements in the WV Clearance for Access Registry and Employment Screening Act.

The House voted to refuse to concur with a voice vote. House Bill 3261 heads back to the Senate.

House Bill 3302 recognizes an embryo or fetus as a distinct unborn victim for the offenses of DUI causing death and DUI causing serious bodily injury.

The Senate amendment removed the recognition of an embryo or fetus as a distinct unborn victim of a crime of DUI causing serious bodily injury. The House Judiciary Committee had amended this into the bill prior to passage. Members felt strongly about having both causing death and causing serious bodily injury in the bill.

The House refused to concur with a vote of 34 to 60. The bill heads back to the Senate.

Senate Bill 559 amends the law relating to spousal privilege. The House amended the bill by adding that the law only extends to valid marriages. The amended version also adds exceptions for (1) offenses committed against the spouse, child, mother, father, sister, or brother; (2) forgery; (3) crimes committed together; (4) crimes against an infant or minor; or (5) crimes against an individual who is mentally incompetent.

Senate Bill 613 removes birthing centers from the list of health services that require a certificate of need to begin operation. The bill also increases the expenditure minimum to $100 million for health facilities. The bill defines “campus” regarding health facilities. The bill allows private office practices to offer lab services and MRIs.

Senate Bill 667 just barely passed the House with a vote of 49 in favor and 43 opposed. The bill requires performance audits of the WVSSAC. The bill requires the Legislative Auditor to examine the revenue, expenditures, and performance of the commission. The initial performance audit shall be completed by December 1, 2023, and provided to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance and the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability.

Opponents of the bill stated that the WVSSAC is a private organization already subject to financial audits from the State Auditor and felt this bill is creating duplicative audits.

The House will hear and amend bills on second reading after the recess.

The House is in recess until 3:30 p.m.

Committee Meetings, Today

The House reconvened this afternoon to finish reading the 54 bills on second reading of the agenda. Senate Bill 187, Senate Bill 220, Senate Bill 258, Senate Bill 361, Senate Bill 523, Senate Bill 534, Senate Bill 548, Senate Bill 573, Senate Bill 735, and Senate Bill 740 advanced to third with the general right to amend. Amendments were offered on several bills, including:

Senate Bill 232 creates a multi disciplinary study group to make recommendations regarding persons with mental illness, developmental disabilities, cognitive disabilities and/or substance abuse problems away from the criminal justice system and into community-based treatment and other settings.

Senate Bill 546 states that unless expressly exempted by law, all delta tetrahydrocannabinols are schedule I. The bill also declares that the provisions of the bill are not applicable to products lawfully manufacture, distributed, or possessed pursuant to the Industrial Hemp Development Act and the Medical Cannabis Act. An amendment was offered and rejected to remove Cannabis products from Schedule I, as drugs listed in Schedule I have no medial purpose. However, with the passage of the Medical Cannabis Act, it’s stated that cannabis does have a medical purpose.

Senate Bill 617 outlines data required for the Intellectual and Development Disabilities Waiver Program workforce study. The bill requires recommendations for hourly pay and an annual review. The Health and Human Resources Committee amendment adds language from a House Bill relating to the regulation of behavioral health centers.

House Bill 2883 transfers money from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund to the Department of Economic Development, the Economic Development Authority, the Reclamation of Abandoned and Dilapidated Property Program Fun, and the Water Development Fund. Two competing amendments were offered on the bill and both were rejected. The first amendment would have allocated the money to PEIA, the Divisions of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Local Economic Development Assistance fund. The second amendment would have allocated more funding to the Water Development Authority and less to the Economic Development Authority.  Th only amendment adopted was to fix a typo in the funding numbers.

The House is adjourned until tomorrow, March 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Committee Meetings, tomorrow, March 10

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