Welcome to the 2021 Legislative Brief, your one-stop shop for legislative news from a variety of sources throughout West Virginia, and my view of the legislative happenings on the horizon. Today marks the 10th day of the 60-Day Legislative Session.
Legislative Action by the Numbers:
593 bills introduced in the House of Delegates
360 bills introduced in the State Senate
13 bills have passed the House of Delegates
11 bills have passed the State Senate
2 bills have completed legislative action and await the Governor's consideration
My View from the Capitol
Last week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice delivered his State of the State address to the legislature outlining his budget priorities. One overarching goal is to eliminate the state’s personal income tax, which generates about $2.1B in revenue – close to half of the general revenue fund, or base budget. Some of the alternative revenue sources that the Governor mentioned to cover the gap were a wealth tax on the state’s highest earners, an increase in the sales tax by 1.5%, eliminating sales tax exemptions on professional services, a tiered severance tax system for oil, coal and gas, along with increases in the tobacco and beverage taxes. The Governor’s proposal is certainly bold, but many question whether it’s wise to dramatically change our tax structure.
In addition to the above, the State Senate and House of Delegates have been working at an unusually fast pace. The concern being that should a COVID spike occur and the Legislature be forced to adjourn, they would like to have completed some of their top priorities.
An example of this fast pace is the fact the State Senate and House of Delegates met in session last Saturday. One notable difference at the Capitol this year are the limitations on access to not only the Capitol, but access to individual Legislators. The new “norm” requires a screening to enter the State House, as well as a previously scheduled appointment with an individual Legislator or committee staff member. All in all, the new process appears to be working and hopefully COVID numbers will continue to trend in the right direction.
Legislative Calendar - Important Days to Remember
Opening Day - January 13, 2021: Assemble to organize by election of officers and open and publish election returns. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)
First Day - February 10, 2021: First day of session. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)
Twentieth Day - March 1, 2021: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)
Thirty-fifth Day - March 16, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the House. House Rule 91a does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.
Forty-first Day - March 22, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Senate Rule 14 does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.
Forty-seventh Day - March 28, 2021: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.
Fiftieth Day - March 31, 2021: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5, paragraph b)
Sixtieth Day - April 10, 2021: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)
News From Around the State
As Justice Hints at Loosening COVID Restrictions, Bill to Impose Time Limits Nears House Passage
Justice: WV, U.S. Vaccinating Itself Out of Pandemic
House Judiciary Committee Flips on Provision of Bill to Check Governor's Authority
Charter Schools Expansion Bill Passes House Even as Democrats Say It’s Rushed
The Best States to Retire in 2021
Intermediate Court of Appeals Gets a New Chance at Life