Today, the House passed completed action on three bills and passed seven others.
Senate Bill 318 requires the Department of Human Services to provide a certificate when parental rights are terminated due to neglect and abuse. These certifications must be included in adoption petitions.
This bill arose as there have been situations where termination of parental rights had been reversed after adoptions have been finalized resulting in lengthy legal battles and distress to children and families.
Senate Bill 428 establishes that appeals from administrative rulings by the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture concerning the Frozen Desserts and Imitation Frozen Desserts Law are to be filed with the Intermediate Court of Appeals.
Senate Bill 543 states that to foster economic development and research, state higher education institutions may enter into agreements and contractual relationships with corporations.
House Bill 4224 requires the West Virginia Division of Highways to develop performance standards and criteria to measure agency performance in all essential operations. The bill also requires the division to employ a management information system that will track the division’s past and current progress toward meeting performance standards. The DOH says they already have a system similar to this in place. This bill would codify what they are doing.
House Bill 4233 requires birth certificates issued in this state to include the sex of the child at birth as male or female. The bill prohibits the use of the term “non-binary” on birth certificates.
House Bill 4758 creates the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the Fusion Center. The bill establishes reporting requirements and clarifies the Fusion Center’s duties and functions, prohibitions, and restrictions when gating information or intelligence. The bill also creates criminal penalties for violations of prohibitions and restrictions applicable to the West Virginia Fusion Center.
House Bill 4845 prohibits swatting, which is the act of falsifying reports to law enforcement and emergency services. These false reports could put others at risk of injury or death. First offense, the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and no more than six months in county jail. For a second or subsequent offense or if the violation causes harm to any person, the offender shall be guilty of a felony and subject to a fine between $5,000 and $10,000 and/or one to five years in a state correction facility.
House Bill 5232 removes the allowance of the owner, lessee, or other persons in charge of a property to inquire about the presence or absence of a firearm locked inside or locked to a motor vehicle in a parking lot of a customer, employee, or invitee. A customer, employee, or invitee may not be removed from the property or be terminated if any employee.
House Bill 5250 works to combat gift card fraud. Senior citizens are often the target of this type of fraud. The bill requires retailers and employees to be trained on gift card fraud. The sale of gift cards must have an interaction with an employee.
House Bill 5251 creates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits solicitors from using auto-dial systems to make calls, artificial or recorded voice for calls, technology to show false numbers, calling during the hours of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., or calling more than three times in the same 24-hour period.
A lengthy debate ensued during the amending of House Bill 5243.
Amendment Young et al #1 would have removed the tax on feminine hygiene products, required feminine hygiene products to female inmates in adult and juvenile correctional facilities and female students for free, created a Dignity in Pregnancy Act, allowed all adults to make and carry out one’s health care decisions, provided eight weeks paid family leave and four weeks of unpaid family leave, created a Fair Pay Act and removed the exception for marital sexual assault from code.
Amendment to the Young et al #1 Amendment – Steele Amendment – struck everything in the Young et al amendment except the removing the marital sexual assault allowance which is in Chapter 61-8B-1 of the code and added back in the original text from House Bill 5243. West Virginia is one of the few states that have this language still in code and it has been used as a defense in sexual assault cases. This amendment to the amendment was adopted, replacing Young et al #1.
Other amendments to the amended amendment were considered.
Amendment Hansen et al attempted to amend the Definitions of Terms section of the bill to add an exception for the Human Rights Act. The amendment was rejected.
Amendment Young et al #2 would have added into the bill that every adult had the right to make and carry out one’s own health care decisions. The amendment was rejected.
Here is how the final amended bill reads. It advances to third reading.
Bills introduced today can be found here.
The House is adjourned until Monday, February 12, 2023 at 11 a.m.
Committee Meetings, today Feb. 9
The Judiciary Committee will meet immediately following the floor session in Room 410.
Committee Meetings, Monday, Feb. 12
The Finance Committee will meet at 1 p.m. in Room 460 for Budget Hearings, a meeting to follow. Feb.
The Committee on Government Organization will meet at 1 p.m. in Room 215E.
The Education Committee will meet at 2 p.m. in Room 434.
The Judiciary Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Room 410.