84th Legislature Scorecard

The West Virginia Chamber is pleased to present its Scorecard for the 84th West Virginia Legislature. Over 25 bills that have an impact on economic development, job creation and education outcomes were used to create this bi-annual scorecard. Members of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce participated in a thorough vetting of these issues, and helped provide guidance on the "weight" each vote should have on a legislator's final score.

To read a description of each bill that is "scored," please click the dropdown for that item. To view the scorecard, please click the button below.

 

 

Education Bills

 

SB 303 requires the West Virginia Board of Education, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education to provide career-path information to students in public K-12 education. Information that will be provided to students includes the most in-demand occupations in West Virginia and their entry wages and education requirements, the average cost of two- and four-year institutions across the state, available financial assistance programs, the average monthly student loan payments based on potential choices, internship opportunities, and other important pieces of information. The West Virginia Chamber supported SB 303.


SB 839 creates an advisory council to provide leadership, strategic direction and evaluation of the state’s investments and progress in implementing career and technical education programs that improve the career readiness of the state’s workforce. The West Virginia Chamber supported SB 839.


SB 1 provides “last dollar in” funding for career and technical education in West Virginia. Under the bill, applicants must first apply for any available grants and scholarships, but the State of West Virginia will pick up any leftover expenses for these students. The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce strongly supported the passage of SB 1, and this bill was "double weighted" in the scorecard.


SB 451 was a comprehensive education reform advanced by the West Virginia Senate in 2019. The bill significantly increased funding to public education in West Virginia and would have allowed for the creation of a limited number of public charter schools in the state. The bill died on a procedural motion in the House of Delegates, so this vote only affects members of the Senate. The West Virginia Chamber strongly supported the passage of SB 451, and this bill was "triple weighted" in the scorecard.


The motion to postpone indefinitely was a successful procedural motion made by the minority caucus in the House of Delegates to permanently kill the comprehensive education reform bill. Since this motion was in the House, this vote only affects members of the House of Delegates. The West Virginia Chamber opposed the motion to postpone SB 451 indefinitely, and this vote was "double weighted" in the scorecard.


HB 206 was a bill considered during a special session of the West Virginia Legislature to improve public education in West Virginia. The bill was more limited in scale than SB 451, and only allows for the creation of three (3) public charter schools every three (3) years. The West Virginia Chamber strongly supported the passage of HB 206, and this bill was "triple weighted" in the scorecard.


HB 2519 would have brought “campus carry” to West Virginia. The bill was opposed by numerous stakeholders including the public universities in the state. HB 2519 passed the House of Delegates but was not taken up for a vote in the full Senate, therefore this vote only affects members of the House of Delegates. The West Virginia Chamber opposed HB 2519.


 

Tourism & Economic Development Bills

 

SB 583 allows electric utility companies in West Virginia to operate a limited amount of solar power in the state. This bill came at the request of the West Virginia Department of Commerce due to potential investors in West Virginia generally requiring some electrical generation to come from renewable energy. The West Virginia Chamber supported SB 583.


SJR 9 and SB 837 were companion pieces of legislation that were designed to phase out various Tangible Personal Property Taxes in the state. SJR 9 was an amendment to the West Virginia Constitution that would have given the power of this taxation to the Legislature. Because it was an amendment to the Constitution, it required a 2/3 majority in both the West Virginia Senate and the West Virginia House of Delegates, and approval of the voters. SB 837 would only have taken effect if SJR 9 was approved, but would have implemented a six-year phase out of the Tangible Personal Property Tax on Manufacturing Machinery, Equipment and Inventory; retail inventory; and automobiles. SB 837 passed the Senate with a 17-16 majority, but SJR 9 was rejected by the Senate after failing to obtain a 2/3 majority. 18 Republicans voted FOR the resolution, but all 14 Democrats and Republican Senators voted AGAINST it. 23 Senators in total were needed to vote for it. These two votes only affect members of the Senate. The West Virginia Chamber strongly supported both measures and both were "double weighted" in the scorecard.


HB 4001 establishes the Mountaineer Impact Fund, which will provide a vehicle for the State of West Virginia to partner with potential major investors to boost economic development and job creation in the Mountain State. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4001.


A number of counties and municipalities in West Virginia are considered “dry” and do not permit the sale of wine and liquor for off-premises consumption. HB 4524 makes the whole state “wet,” but would allow county commissions and town councils in currently “dry” areas to vote to remain “dry.” These governmental bodies also have the option of placing this issue on the ballot in the upcoming General Election. This legislation is important to the tourism industry, and a fiscal note from the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration indicates that they expect increased tourism and tax revenues by permitting these sales. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4524.


 

Energy & Public Utility Bills

 

SB 551 is designed to help facilitate the sale of small, municipally-owned water and wastewater systems that require updates. This will help ensure good health and water quality in West Virginia. The West Virginia Chamber supported SB 551.


This bill creates an abandoned oil & gas well plugging fund to cover the costs of plugging abandoned wells with no responsible operator. Funds would continue to roll over each year rather than revert to the General Revenue Fund at the end of the year. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4090.


HB 4615 protects 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. Critical infrastructure projects in this bill include energy facilities, railroads, military facilities, ports, pipelines, dams, water systems, telecommunication facilities and power plants. The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce provided testimony in support of this bill at a public hearing and supported its passage.


Legislation during the 2019 session authorized electric utility companies to install middle-mile broadband to help bring connectivity to more remote areas of the state. This is the bill that approves the plans submitted by the electric utility companies. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4619.


SB 3 authorized internet and cell providers to utilize existing rights-of-way such as utility poles to help expand 5G service throughout West Virginia. The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce supported SB 3.


 

Legal Reform Bills

 

SB 136 seeks to prevent misleading lawsuit ads that may cause some individuals to stop taking certain medication. The bill prohibits the unauthorized usage of official government logos and requires disclosures with these ads that tell people not to stop taking prescribed medication without first consulting their physician. The West Virginia Chamber supported this bill.


SB 275 would have created an intermediate appellate court in West Virginia. Intermediate appellate court bills passed the Senate during the 2018 & 2019 legislative sessions, but were not taken up in the House. 2020's SB 275 placed a focus on providing some relief to the dockets of circuit courts in West Virginia by requiring all appeals from family courts to go straight to the new intermediate appellate court. The Kanawha County Circuit would also have received additional relief, as appeals stemming from the State Administrative Procedures Act were set to go to the new intermediate appellate court. The bill passed the House Judiciary and House Finance Committees and was put on the floor for a vote. Despite the strong support of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The West Virginia Development Office, The Governor’s Office, the West Virginia Senate, the leadership of the West Virginia House of Delegates and numerous other stakeholders, 15 Republicans defected and voted with all Democrats to kill the bill. The West Virginia Chamber strongly supported this piece of legislation, and this bill was "triple weighted" in the scorecard.


HB 2088 would have made evidence of seatbelt use admissible in court when damages were above $50,000. The bill passed the House after a motion to reconsider, but was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee in a way that some of the supporters of the bill dropped their support. The bill was taken off the Senate Calendar by the Rules Committee. Because the bill was not voted on in the Senate, this vote only affects members of the House. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 2088 as it passed the House.


HB 2646 requires a separated employee to notify and employer of any issues regarding payment of their final wages, and provides that employer 7 days to correct those issues before becoming liable. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 2646.


SB 266 was the 2019 bill to create an intermediate appellate court in West Virginia. The West Virginia Chamber has long been an advocate of the creation of such a court. The bill passed the West Virginia Senate but was not taken up in the House of Delegates, so this vote only affects members of the Senate. The West Virginia Chamber supported SB 266.


 

Good Government & Regulatory Bills

 

Under SB 209, if a municipality seeks to annex territory by a “minor boundary adjustment,” a signed affidavit must be provided by all freeholders, businesses and individuals in the area to be annexed that gives their consent. If anyone objects, the county commission must deny the plan. This bill gives much-needed protections to businesses who are located outside municipal limits and find themselves being part of a proposed annexation. This language also preserves “minor boundary adjustment” as an option for municipalities who are working collaboratively with individuals and businesses about potential annexation. The West Virginia Chamber championed this piece of legislation, and this bill was "double weighted" in the scorecard.


SB 597 contains the first pay raise for members of the judiciary in nearly a decade. Pay raises will be implemented over a 2-year period beginning in 2021 for supreme court justices, circuit judges and magistrates. Family court judges will receive a one-time, larger raise that goes into effect on July 1 of this year. The West Virginia Chamber supported SB 597.


This bill creates the West Virginia Sentencing Commission to review all sentencing guidelines in West Virginia and make recommendations on proper sentencing reforms. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4004.


HB 4092 is a comprehensive piece of legislation to assist foster families in West Virginia. Currently, over 7,000 children in the state are in foster care and the numbers continue to increase. HB 4092 provides $16.9 million for additional compensation for foster families, with a tiered system in place. It also enumerates a bill of rights for foster children and foster families. HB 4092 was championed as a bi-partisan bill this session. The only legislator to vote against the bill was Delegate Pat McGeehan (R – Hancock). The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4092.


HB 4494 establishes a Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Task Force that will utilize scientific-backed methods to lower tobacco use in West Virginia, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the highest cigarette-use in the nation. The funding for this initiative will be derived from grants and private donations. The original language of this will would have used 25% of the interest generated from “Rainy Day B,” which contains funds from the tobacco settlement that occurred in the 1990s. This language, however, was stricken over concerns about setting a precedent regarding the use of interest from the Rainy Day funds. The West Virginia Chamber supported HB 4494.


SB 163 was the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Water Rules bundle. This bill provides time for the DEP to adequately assess human health criteria in water quality standards across the state. The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce supported SB 163.


For information or questions about the scorecard, please email Brian Dayton at bdayton@wvchamber.com