Education, Energy, West Virginia Legislature

House votes down Democratic amendments to campus carry, gas well inspector bills; both up for passage on Tuesday

MORGANTOWN – The state Senate’s Campus Self Defense Act is up for passage in the House of Delegates on Tuesday, and on Monday the majority party voted down two proposed Democratic amendments.

SB 10, commonly called the campus carry bill, sets the parameters for people with concealed handgun permits to carry on public college and university campuses and includes exceptions where the schools may still prohibit weapons.

Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, proposed to allow schools to establish residence halls where deadly weapons are prohibited to accommodate students who don’t want to live in dorms where guns are allowed.

Judiciary chair Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, said schools can already do that as long as they comply with security measures in state code. And the amendment is so broad it would allow schools to make every dorm a gun-free zone.

Hornbuckle defended it, saying it would make the state more marketable – appealing to those who feel OK with firearms in residence halls and to those who don’t. “We do not have to live there. … It’s about the students.”

The amendments fell in a voice vote.

Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, offered on to strike the portion of the bill allowing those with provisional permits – ages 18-20 – to carry concealed under the provisions of the bill.

The Second Amendment is not absolute, he said, as reflected in the 12 exceptions in the bill. “We have duty to think about where those boundaries are and what makes the most sense” for students and the universities.

He cited some numbers: West Virginia has the fourth-highest rate of gun suicide attempts in the U.S. and the sixth-highest rate of gun suicide deaths.

Delegate Bill Ridenour, R-Jefferson, said he served in the Marines with people of that age group and trusted his life to them. “I had tremendous trust and confidence in those kids.” It disparages them to suggest they’re not mature enough to handle weapons.

That amendment also was rejected in a voice vote.

Other bill action

HB 3110 proposes three means of raising money for the chronically underfunded Office of Oil and Gas to pay for more inspectors. Hansen offered an amendment to this bill regarding one of the means: a tiered annual oversight fee based on well production.

Large producing wells — a typical horizontal well — would be charged $350 per well; a producer would be charged for up to 400 wells. Mid-size wells would be charged $75 per well for up to 400 wells. Marginal wells would be charged $25 per well for up to 4,000 wells.

Hansen proposed to lift the cap on the number of wells charged in each category, saying the limit was a carve-out for the four largest producers, and lifting it could generate another $400,000 per year to pay for even more inspectors. The per-well fee is small and they can afford it.

Finance chair Vernon Criss, R-Wood, said Hansen’s amendment would alter the agreement made with the producers to get this bill in motion, and adopting it could kill the bill.

The amendment was rejected in a voice vote. It is on third reading for passage on Tuesday. The Senate sister bill, SB 448, is sitting in Senate Finance.

SB 89 came to the House as a bill to require hospitals to have a trained sexual assault forensic examiner on staff to perform exams. House Health chair Amy Summers, R-Taylor, said her committee amended the bill because only 17% of hospitals across the state have them.

The House version requires the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Commission to update its rules to require that hospitals have examiners available – including by telehealth – or have transfer agreements in place to get patients to a site with an examiner.

The amended bill passed 94-0 and returns to the Senate.

In committee action, House Government Organization adopted HCR 19, a resolution recognizing the pepperoni roll as the official state food. They adopted it with an amendment striking two passages crediting former Sen. Jay Rockefeller with saving the industry in 1987 when new U.S. Department of Agriculture restrictions threatened to close down all the pepperoni roll bakeries in the state.

HCR 19 now heads to House Rules where it could be scheduled for floor action.

Tweet David Beard @dbeardtdp Email