The West Virginia Legislative Third Special Session of 2021 has come to an end.
Those in both the West Virginia House of Delegates and the West Virginia Senate were able to accomplish a lot since the session was called by Gov. Jim Justice on Oct. 8, but it was no easy task.
Fierce debates were held throughout the session. Some of those debates were held in front of the public eye—like those that occurred after a Confederate flag was displayed on the House floor in protest of redrawing delegate districts around the National Alliance headquarters in Pocahontas County and when Senate President Craig Blair likened the Coronavirus vaccine mandates to the politics of Nazi Germany.
However, many debates happened behind closed doors, like those that occurred in the Senate as they discussed which map out of 19 would reapportion residents fairly in the state’s 17 senatorial districts and those that occurred as delegates were faced with creating 100 single-member delegate districts to meet the requirements of a 2018 state law.
All told, Justice signed 40 bills into law, including the controversial medical and religious exemptions allowance against employer mandated Coronavirus immunizations. The following is a brief description of those bills:
-House Bill 301, Reapportioning House of Delegates Districts, effective on Oct. 18, 2021. This bill divided the state into 100 single-member delegate districts;
-House Bill 335, Relating to COVID-19 immunizations requirements for employment in the public and private sectors, effective on Jan. 18, 2022. This bill allows employees to have medical and religious exemptions for employer mandated Coronavirus vaccinations;
-Senate Bill 3033, Relating to composition of congressional districts, effective on Oct. 12, 2021. This bill divided congressional districts into a north/south pattern. Prior to this bill, the state had three congressional districts, but, due to population loss, a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was eliminated;
-Senate Bill 3034, Dividing state into senatorial districts, effective on Oct. 20, 2021.This bill reapportioned the state’s 17 Senate districts following the 2020 Census;
-House Bill 339, Creating the Broadband Development Fund, effective Oct. 20, 2021;
-Senate Bill 3026, Relating to review, approval, disapproval, or amendment of local boards of health rules by county commission or county board of education, effective Oct. 15, 2021. This bill clarifies the authority of local health departments to adopt department rules, requires that rules not acted upon by a county commission within 30 days become void, clarifies language that a health department rule in response to an imminent public health emergency have immediate force and clarifies other rules set forth by health departments;
-Senate Bill 3025, Relating generally to WV ABLE Act, effective Oct. 15, 2021. This bill clarifies language in the West Virginia ABLE Act—a savings program for individuals with a disability and their families;
-Senate Bill 3027, Establishing Medal of Valor for emergency medical service personnel, firefighters, and law-enforcement officers, effective Oct. 12, 2021;
-Senate Bill 3032, Relating to application fees for license to carry concealed deadly weapon, effective Oct. 14, 2021. This bill raises the fee to $50 for those who apply for a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon;
-Senate Bill 3031, Exempting sale of certain aircraft from consumers sales and service tax, effective Oct. 14, 2021; and
-Senate Bill 3030, Updating provisions establishing Intermediate Court of Appeals, effective Jan. 13, 2022.
Additionally, Twenty-eight Senate and House bills relating to supplementing appropriations to various state departments, bureaus, commissions and divisions were signed into law.
More information on each bill can be found on the West Virginia Legislature’s website at wvlegislature.gov.