Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

Senate passes booze, gun, parole bills

CHARLESTON — The state Senate churned through some booze and bullet bills Thursday and sent them to the House of Delegates.  Senators also approved one of the criminal justice reform bills aimed at getting nonviolent offenders back into the job force.

SB 482 updates a piece of code dealing with guns on school campuses to conform with other Constitutional carry code.

Under current law, anyone 21 or older “who has a valid concealed handgun permit may possess a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle or other areas of vehicular ingress or egress to a public school.”

Constitutional carry allows anyone who may lawfully possess a gun to carry without a permit.

So the bill changes one phrase, to say anyone 21 or older “who may lawfully possess a firearm, may possess a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle or other areas of vehicular ingress or egress to a public school.”

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, objected to the bill in Senate Judiciary and opposed it on the floor. It allows people without handgun training to bring guns onto campuses, he said.

“While hopefully nothing bad will ever come of this, I think it’s the wrong direction to go.”

Judiciary chair Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said that the Legislature previously approved Constitutional carry and made exceptions for those convicted of various violent or weapons-related crimes.

SB 625 would allow nonprofit charities to team with private clubs to offer one-day, one-time, once-a-year fundraising auctions of rare, antique and vintage liquor.

The event would be held on the club’s premises. The buyer would have to pay for and take home the liquor that day; delivery would be prohibited. At least 80% of the proceeds would have to go directly to the charity before accounting for expenses.

The bill came from the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration and as it came out of Judiciary, ABCA would charge a $500 fee for the event license.

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, offered an amendment in committee to lower the fee from $500 to $300, saying these are charitable events. But other senators defeated the amendment, siding with ABCA General Counsel Anoop Bhasin, who told them the fee would help cover some of ABCA’s regulatory costs and that ABCA charges higher fees for other licenses and events.

So Rucker tried again Thursday, this time lowering the fee to $100. No one objected and the amendment was adopted. The bill passed 34-0.

SB 629 sets out various categories for wine – fortified wine (with brandy or other alcohol added); nonfortified dessert wines; table wine – and the alcohol by volume content for each. It also eliminates a bonding requirement for wine sellers that’s never been enforced. It also passed 34-0.

SB 620 is the criminal justice bill. It authorizes the commissioner of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish a nonviolent offense parole program for qualifying inmates without action of the Parole Board.

The inmate must be eligible for parole and not be serving a sentence for a crime of violence against the person, or felony for a controlled substance offense which involves actual or threatened violence to a person, a felony involving the use of a firearm, or a felony offense where the victim was a minor child. The inmate must have successfully completed an individualized rehabilitation treatment program.

It also passed 34-0.

TWITTER @dbeardtdp Email David Beard at