Here’s a quick overview of some of the other big things that happened this past week — things that aren’t covered elsewhere in this update on the second week of the 2023 legislative session.
Major Senate Actions: Zombie Bills on Guns and Unemployment
“Campus carry” legislation, which would allow the concealed carry of handguns on the state’s university campuses, advanced in the Senate despite opposition from the state’s two flagship universities. SB 10 will be up for passage on Tuesday (TODAY). More than one source has noted that a similar bill failed in 2019 when it was voted down in the Senate Judiciary. The fact that it started there this session doesn’t bode well. More here and here. Since the bill cleared the committee, more university presidents have been weighing in to share their concerns, including WV State, Concord, and Shepherd Universities (letter courtesy the Beckley Register-Herald).
The Senate has also revived an attack on workers from prior sessions. “The WV Senate is again considering legislation that would reduce the number of weeks workers can receive unemployment benefits and the means by which they apply for those benefits,” according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The Dominion Post also has a story here via WV MetroNews. The Senate passed SB 59 during its floor session on Monday, Jan. 23, with 27 votes in favor and five against. Three Republicans joined two of the Senate’s three Democrats in opposing the bill.
Major House Actions: Health Committee Moves Bills to Reorganize DHHR, Limit Health Care Options for Transgender Youth
Last Tuesday, the House advanced its version of the DHHR reorganization (HB 2006) that would split the state’s largest agency into three. Recall, the Senate passed its version (SB 126) on Day 1. HB 2006 was approved by the Health Committee and is pending in Finance. As Amelia Ferrell Knisely reports for the Register-Herald, these changes are colliding with ongoing child welfare problems within the DHHR.
The House Health Committee advanced HB 2007, Prohibiting certain medical practices, specifically gender affirming care for minors. The bill would bar medical providers from offering such care. More here from Leah Willingham with the Associated Press. Mountain State Spotlight also wrote about how lawmakers are moving to further limit health care options for transgender youth, even though denying such care is inconsistent with science and the best interest of this already marginalized population. As the AP reported, the bill passed the Health Committee with “little discussion.” Hoppy Kercheval shared his thoughts on why this issue demands more than that, and why we would all benefit from a better understanding of this complicated and unnecessarily controversial issue.