04 March 2010

Legislature 2010: Crossing Over (Updated)

The House and Senate exchanged around 317 bills by Wednesday's procedural deadline, out of nearly 2,080 introduced. While seven have already completed their legislative travels, the rest remain in play during the session's final 10 days.

The Associated Press reported earlier that Gov. Joe Manchin's entire agenda beat the deadline (except for the budget bill, which remains pending). That wish list includes a bill to refocus the West Virginia Turnpike's parent agency solely on roadways while also allowing it to operate tolls elsewhere in the state.

AP noted that "the measure advanced after language was removed that would have discounted rates for residents of counties that host toll roads to a dollar per booth. Critics questioned the constitutionality of that provision."

But the lawmaker behind that discount, Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, replaced it with an amendment that would offer 1,000 free transponders for the "EZ Pass" commuter discount system annually. The Charleston Gazette, MetroNews and The Register-Herald of Beckley also report on that bill.

Of other measures crossing over:

  • A Senate-passed measure "takes some autonomy back from Marshall and West Virginia universities but lets the schools maintain control in areas such as tuition and fee hikes," the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington reports.
  • The Register-Herald reports that a with a "lopsided" Senate vote, "West Virginia moved a step closer Wednesday to legalizing louder and more colorful" fireworks.
  • AP and the Herald-Dispatch bring attention to a House bill that targets drivers who fail to halt for stopped school buses. "Lawmakers and family members have pressed for such penalties following the death of 6-year-old Haven Brooke McCarthy," AP reports. "She had just stepped off her Lincoln County school bus in December 2007 when a passing vehicle struck her." Delegates passed a version of the bill last year, also unanimously, but the Senate never took it up.
  • Last year's death of a Charleston police office helped prompt another House-passed bill, this one leveled at criminals who flee or obstruct law enforcement, AP reports.
  • AP reports as well on the unanimous Senate passage of a bill " to require teens between 14 and 18 to get written permission from their parents before using a tanning lamp, booth or bed."
  • The Senate has also proposed removing some archaic laws from the books, AP reports, voting unanimously to repeal statutes that outlaw waving red flags, wearing hats in a theater and engaging in "lewd cohabitation.''
  • (Update) Public Broadcasting observes that the bulk of bills introduced each session never reach a vote, and offers some of the reasons as to why. With audio.

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