Friday was the 38th day of the 60-day legislative session, which ends March 7.

Time is running short, and that’s good and bad. It’s good in that the clock might run out on bills detrimental to the union, such as House Bill 4605  and Senate Bill 616. HB 4605 allows the DHHR to “transfer state hospitals to “comprehensive regional mental health centers,” while SB 616 is an attack on the public employees’ grievance system.

As it is, HB 4605 cleared the House Health and Human Resources Committee on Thursday, and SB 616 has cleared on committee and resides in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It is bad in that many bills that would help our members and retirees may not even be taken up by their assigned committees. The clock is ticking — on February 23, bills are due out of committee in their house of origin, and must have cleared the house of origin by February 26.

HB 4581 moved past 2nd Reading on Friday in the House. That will include West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources employees in the West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry and Employment Screening process. The bill will be up for 3rd Reading and passage on Monday.

We are watching those bills, and hoping the following will make a committee agenda. If you could contact committee members about them, that would be great!

  • HB 4624 and HB 2350, allowing collective bargaining for state workers. (Both in House Industry and Labor Committee)
  • HB 2132, raising the amount of annual and incremental salary increases for eligible employees from $60 to $100; and changing eligibility from three years of service to one. (House Government Organization)
  • HB 2491providing regional field employees of the DOH increases in annual pay.  (House Finance)
  • HB 2575freezing PEIA employee premiums for three years. (House Committee on Banking and Insurance)
  • HB 2130, 2650 and 4598, establishing seniority rights for public employees. (House Government Organization)
  • HB 4768, which would provide a $1,000 pay increase for full-time adult protective service workers.

Bills that would affect retirees:

  • SB 31, opens an enrollment period of 11 months in which certain members of the Public Employees Retirement System can purchase previously forfeited service credit. (Passed Senate Committee on Pensions on January 16, still in Finance Committee)
  • SB 757, providing an annual cost-of-living adjustment for public employee and teacher retirees.
  • HB 2053, providing that state retirees’ insurance benefits be restored to 2015 levels. (Pensions and Retirement)
  • SB 673, increasing by $2 the monthly retirement annuity to retired public workers and teachers with more than 20 years of service. s.
  • HB 4627, similar to SB 673.
  • HB 2104, increasing benefit to state retirees by 5% for the next 3 years. (House Pensions and Retirement)
  • HB 23722580 and 2748, continuing and/or increasing the exclusion of pension income from state income tax. (House Pensions and Retirement)
  • HB 2776, providing a one-time, 3% supplement to PERS and teacher retirees when they reach the age of 70. (House Pensions and Retirement)
  • HB 3030, pertaining to the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement Act. In summary, the bill’s purpose is to allow purchase of retroactive service credit, for periods of employment in which contributions were not deducted from the employee’s pay, in installments rather than in a lump sum under the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement Act. (House Pensions and Retirement)
  • SB 178, similar to SB 31.
  • SB 117, providing $1,000 cost-of-living adjustment to certain Public Employees Retirement System recipients and teacher retirees. (Pensions)
  • SB 146, establishing minimum monthly retirement annuity for retirees with 20 or more years of credited service. (Pensions)
  • HB 4682, requiring the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to increase by 1 percent the monthly annuity payment for each retiree under a retirement system it administers (including Public Employee Retirement System members who have been receiving an annuity payment for at least 10 years.

Bills (beneficial or otherwise) that have passed the Senate, and reside in the House:

  • SB 217: Requires the DHHR to collaborate with Workforce Development Board and Division of Personnel for job placement. It passed the Senate on January 21 with a 33-0 vote, and went to the House’s Health and Human Resources Committee.
  • SB 339: Relating to DHHR rules. (House Judiciary) Includes material from SB 352, relating to qualifications for provisional license to practice as social worker within DHHR. It passed the Senate on January 30 with a 33-0 vote, and went to the House Judiciary Committee.

Other bills that have cleared one committee:

  • SB 291 was reworked and reported out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources last week. The bill would require the PEIA and other health insurance providers provide mental health parity between behavioral health, mental health, substance use disorders and medical and surgical procedures. It has passed the Health and Human Resources Committee and goes to the Senate Finance Committee.
  • HB 4291, similar to SB 339. It has passed the Health and Human Resources committee, and was sent to House Judiciary.

Among other bills that have not been taken up by committee:

  • HB 4044, that simply says, “No state, county, or municipal government entity, or state agency may process payroll deductions from any employee’s paycheck that is directed to an organization that is engaged in electioneering.” Needless to say, this is “opposed legislation.”
  • Senate Joint Resolution 8, House Joint Resolution 12 and HJR 17, would amend the West Virginia Constitution, phasing out the inventory tax on tangible manufacturing inventory, machinery, and equipment personal property. The amendment does provide for an unspecified “item of appropriation for replacement revenue, rising to $100 million by fiscal year 2025-26. This is also “opposed legislation.” (Senate Committee on the Judiciary)
  • HB 2577, authorizing insurance to married workers without children at reduced rates under the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Act. (Banking and Insurance)
  • HB 4128, modernize the job classification of child protective caseworkers. Similar to SB 312. (Health and Human Resources)
  • HB 2308, Katherine Johnson Fair Pay Act of 2019;  the bill makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to make a condition of employment, or to prohibit an employee from disclosing information about his or her wages, benefits, or other compensation, or sharing information regarding any other employee’s wages, benefits, or other compensation. The bill also limits employers’ inquiry into a job applicant’s wage and salary history.
  • HB 4740, Designating social workers in the DHHR to help improve or maintain school attendance and performance, health and well-being. (House Education)
  • SB 713, allowing a modification of the allocation of premiums for employers and employees in the PEIA. (Senate Banking and Insurance)
  • HB 2207, requiring that a state employee with a commercial driver’s license have a current medical evaluation certification. (Technology and Infrastructure)
  • HB 2347, providing long-term care and substance abuse treatment. (House Health and Human Services)
  • HB 2381, Exempting certain contracts between the DHHR and West Virginia University, Marshall University or the School for Osteopathic Medicine from state purchasing requirements. (Education)
  • HB 2463, increasing the state minimum wage based upon increases in the Consumer Price Index. (House Industry and Labor)
  • HB 2871, increasing the state minimum wage gradually to $12 by 2023. (House Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development)
  • HB 4068, increasing the state minimum wage gradually to $15 by 2025. (House Industry and Labor)
  • SB 37, providing long-term care and substance abuse treatment. (Human Health and Resources)
  • SB 238, making state’s whistleblower law applicable to private employment sector. (Workforce Committee)
  • SB 312, relating to child protective caseworkers. (Children and Families)
  • SB 559, authorizing small private employers buy in to PEIA. (Banking and Insurance)

Our big victory so far was the failure of HB 4043 in the a tie committee vote. That would prevent state, county and municipal agencies from covering any portions of Public Employee Insurance Act premiums for an employee’s spouse, if that spouse was offered coverage by a different plan by his/her separate employer. Beware of any revival of that “opposed legislation.”

We included the Senate and House committee designations, in case you want to lobby specific members. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@uelocal170.org, or one of your local union officials.