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Lawmakers fix bills vetoed over technical errors

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Legislature spent part of its last day in extended session Wednesday fixing technical errors in bills.

The Legislature met Wednesday to approve an amended Fiscal Year 2016 budget, but during its final day also amended and returned multiple vetoed bills.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed 14 bills passed this session, 13 due to issues with how they were written. Those “technical errors” can be as simple as a single incorrect word or as complicated as misrepresenting existing state code.

Assistant Senate Clerk Lee Cassis said vetoes due to technical issues is an annual part of the process.

“This is my 13th session,” he said Wednesday. “I remember them happening during every one.”

Still, some have wondered if the accelerated pace of Republican’s first session in control of both the House and Senate in more than 80 years has contributed to the number of errors.

Fourteen bills vetoed, “that’s probably a little on the high side,” Cassis said. “We have had a lot of new staff with the changeover, a lot of new committee attorneys. That may have been a factor.”

Shayna Varner, press secretary for the governor’s office, said last year the governor vetoed only five bills due to technical errors. The governor’s office also has not received all of the bills passed by the Legislature during the 2015 session.

The regular legislative session ended Saturday at midnight. Wednesday marked the end of the extended session for approving a budget.

“If a bill is vetoed by the governor following the adjournment of the Legislature sine die and the extended budget session, the bill dies,” Varner said.

Varner said at this point there is no plan for the governor to call a special session beyond the extended budget session.

The Senate and House amended a half-dozen bills Wednesday, correcting titles and other issues before returning them to the governor for approval. Among the bills revised Wednesday were:

* Senate Bill 286, relating to compulsory immunizations of students.

* SB 287, providing posthumous high school diplomas

* SB 529, relating to state retirement systems’ benefits and costs.

* House Bill 2648, allowing authorized entities to maintain a stock of epinephrine auto-injectors to be used for emergencies.

* HB 2664, creating “Andrea and Willy’s Law,” which increases certain penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or drugs.

* HB 2880, creating an addiction treatment pilot program.

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