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Legislature considered and passed fewer bills than in 2016


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A member of the West Virginia Legislature must know that a bill he or she introduces has a small chance of ever becoming law. This year, that chance was about one in seven.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, right, reviews legislation during the extended session of the Legislature.
(WV Legislative photo)

According to numbers compiled on the Legislature’s website, 262 of the 1,802 bills introduced during the 2017 regular session were passed by both houses. As of April 12, a small percentage of those had been acted on by Gov. Jim Justice. Only 11.7 percent of bills introduced in the House of Delegates made it that far. That compares with 17.4 percent in the Senate, for a combined 13.9 percent success rate.

All together, the 100 members of the House introduced 1,108 bills. The 34 members of the Senate introduced 694, bringing the total number of bills up for consideration to 1,802.

By far most bills — 970 in the House and 569 in the Senate — died in committee. The remainder suffered other fates in the process and never passed.

The 100 members of the House of Delegates introduced 11 bills per person on average, while the 34 members of the Senate introduced between 20 and 21 bills on average.

This year’s production of legislation was down from last year, but House Clerk Steve Harrison said this year’s number was still higher than the 20-year average.

“We looked at the average over the past 20 years or so, and the average is in the 240s,” Harrison said.

The 2016 regular session saw 1,896 bills introduced. Of those, 246 passed both houses and were signed by then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Four passed, but were not signed by the governor. Tomblin vetoed 21 bills passed by the Legislature. And 1,604 died in committee, while seven were tabled.

Even after a bill is approved by both chambers of the Legislature, there is still work to be done before it goes to the governor, said Jared Hunt, communications director for the House of Delegates. Once a bill is passed, it still needs to be reviewed and proofread to allow for correction of any errors or omissions, and to ensure that all amendments were properly included and that everything reflects the bill as it was intended to be passed by the Legislature, Hunt said.

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