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WV House gets down to nuts and bolts as session starts winding down


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following hours of heated debate over budget and revenue bills that stretched into the night on Wednesday, April 5, the West Virginia House of Delegates took a more sedate approach Thursday, passing routine bills with little fanfare.

As the 60-day legislative session begins winding down, members of the House of Delegates are mostly considering bills that originated in the Senate, while senators are considering legislation that originated in the House. The House passed more that a dozen Senate bills on Thursday, while moving dozens more through the pipeline for passage.

Among legislation passed by the House on Thursday was Senate Bill 240, which would criminalize distributing sexually explicit material without the consent of one of the parties involved. The bill is intended to address “revenge porn,” which typically occurs when a romantic couple breaks up and one party shares sexually explicit pictures or videos of the other on the internet or through social media.

Under the provisions of the bill, a first offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or fines of $1,000 to $5,000. A second offense would be a felony punishable by one to three years in prison and/or fines of $2,500 to $10,000.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee added language to the bill referring to the intent of an alleged violator of the proposed code, so the bill has to go back to the Senate for consideration.

Also Thursday, the House passed Senate Bill 441, which would extend home rule provisions to every municipality in the state. Under home rule, cities would be able to pass their own sales tax provisions and make other decisions independent of the state.

The House also passed Senate Bill 606, which would exempt seasonal workers from minimum wage and maximum work hour provisions. Many House Democrats were opposed to the legislation, because it would exempt employees who work less than seven months in a year. The bill passed 55-43.

House members also moved a road construction resolution requested by Gov. Jim Justice a step closer to passage. Justice has asked for a constitutional amendment to allow the state to sell $1.6 billion in construction bonds.

Senate Joint Resolution 6, the Roads to Prosperity Amendment, would set down the rules by which the amendment would be put to a statewide vote. Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, vice-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the committee added an amendment to the resolution requiring the Legislature to come up with fees or other revenue measures to pay for the road bonds if the amendment were to pass.

The resolution will be up for a final vote on Friday.

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