It was another busy week in the legislature as this was the final week for committees to do their work on House bills. Crossover day is the 27th, when all bills must be out of their house of origin or they are dead until next year.

By Del. Gary Howell
It was another busy week in the legislature as this was the final week for committees to do their work on House bills. Crossover day is the 27th, when all bills must be out of their house of origin or they are dead until next year.  
Last week I told you about HB 2542, which is a bill I introduced to help provide a secondary system to call emergency services when lands lines go down as they frequently do in the state. That has now passed the full House and heads to the Senate. My hope is that it will lead to the future saving of lives.
For years the people of our area and other areas of the state have complained about the lack of a Division of Motor Vehicles office in their area.  After to doing much research on the subject, I introduced HB 2886. It sets forth requirements for a DMV office or DMV Now kiosk to be present in a county. If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor, then Mineral County will likely get a DMV office. Smaller counties will also get a DMV Now kiosk.
Currently, Marlinton in Pocahontas County is over 40 miles from the nearest DMV facility of any kind, making a trip to the DMV a daylong event. This bill should improve DMV customer service.
House Concurrent Resolution 13 also passed the House this week.  It will name WV Route 46 from the western Keyser city limits to Mineral Street in front of the Keyser Fire Station the Chief Robert Edward Dorsey Memorial Highway. Born in 1920, Chief Dorsey was a WWII veteran and a life member and the oldest active member of the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department. It is now up to the Senate to pass the resolution.
I was really disappointed that the full House never got to vote on the actual education bill, SB 451. In a procedural motion, the bill was tabled before its completion. This was probably one of the most researched bills in my career in the legislature, so I knew what good things to fight for.  
I had many people from the 56th District either meet with me in person or contact me. I made sure I was available, even coming home for an in-person weekend meeting with a county school board member, who subsequently never attended the scheduled meeting.
County superintendant Shawn Dilly came to my office in Charleston and we had a good discussion on the bill. The main part of the discussion was how the information that many were getting from the internet was completely wrong, including what he had been told.
In discussions with others, many people did not realize the bill had changed from its introduced form and we were quite happy with the House amendments. There were over 50 different amendments offered to the bill, which changed it significantly, that is why when the bill left the House it had strong bi-partisan support.
The House was going to hold fast to defend its position on the bill as it left the House. A lot of good reforms to improve West Virginia’s education outcomes where lost as a result of the bill being tabled through misinformation.
The Committee on Government Organization, which I chair, had a very busy week passing the equivalent of over 50 bills during very long meetings. One bill, HB 3044, will require the Commissioner of Highways to develop a formula for allocating road funds for core maintenance, which includes pot hole repair, snow removal, ditching and mowing. Improving the conditions of West Virginia’s roads has been a theme of this year’s legislature and is one of the reasons
I sponsored HB 2011. HB 2011 will allow the Division of Highways where state highway crews are unable to complete all of their core maintenance during the course of the fiscal year that ends on June 30, then any remaining funds can be use to contract with private contractors to complete more core maintenance.
The homelessness of our veterans has been a concern of many of us. HB 2926 passed out of the committee and it will require the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to study the housing needs of veterans. The study goes beyond just the homeless issue; the Secretary will study the need for additional veterans nursing homes.  The report is due to be complete on November 1st of this year, so that the legislature may act quickly on any issue that is found.
After Wednesday of this coming week we will only be working on Senate bills.  If you have a question, a suggestion on making West Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family or need help with a state agency, then you can always call me at 304-340-3192 or if you prefer e@mail me at Gary.Howell@WVHouse.gov.  Make sure you leave your full name, address and phone number so I can contact you if you leave a message.