Legislature Coming To the Friendly City

The West Virginia Legislature will meet in Wheeling in June as part of the state’s 150th birthday celebration.

House Concurrent Resolution 50 – introduced by Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio – was passed by the state Senate by voice vote Friday. It was among a number of measures approved on the 59th day of the 60-day regular session of the Legislature.

Lawmakers adjourn at midnight today.

HCR 50 requests the Legislature’s June interim session take place in Wheeling the week of June 20 to coincide with West Virginia’s sesquicentennial. A total of 180 hotel rooms in local hotels have been secured for House and Senate members and their staffs for the third week of June, according to Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I’m glad they will be coming,” Storch said.

Other bills introduced by local lawmakers also completed legislative action and now await the signature of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2548, proposed by Delegate Mike Ferro, D-Marshall. The measure increases the criminal penalties for assaults and batteries against athletic officials. It defines an athletic official as a person who enforces the rules of a sporting event, or someone supervising the participants – such as a coach.

Existing law terms it a misdemeanor to assault someone acting as an athletic official and stipulates a fine of $50-$100. Jail time can range from 1-30 days. Ferro’s bill would increase the amount of mandated jail time to a term of five days to six months.

The charge of battery on a sports official – still a misdemeanor – is defined as striking the official more than once. The offender presently can be fined $100-$500. He or she can be jailed for 1-30 days. HB 2548 increases the mandated jail time for battery on an athletic official to a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of one year.

The House, meanwhile, passed two bills introduced by Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall.

Senate Bill 331 would permit the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority to issue bonds. SB 604 would expand the definition of “electioneering communication” to political advertising through billboards, mass mailings and phone banks.

Also passed in the House were these measures that await Senate concurrence:

  • SB 202 – (Kessler) Creating WV Spay Neuter Assistance Program and Fund
  • SB 355 – (Kessler) Relating to final wage payment to discharged employees
  • SB 523 – (Kessler) Making supplementary appropriation of unappropriated money to various accounts
  • SB 525 – (Kessler) Making supplementary appropriation of federal funds to various accounts
  • SB 596 – (Kessler) Determining grant awards for Chesapeake Bay and Greenbrier River watershed compliance projects

And HB 2716, introduced by Delegate Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, is scheduled for third reading today in the Senate. The measure relates to the West Virginia Fairness in Competitive Bidding Act.