OPINION

FROM YOUR DELEGATE: 2021 session is now complete

Del. Gary Howell
Special to the News Tribune
Del. Gary Howell

The legislature has now completed is regular session of 2021. All the bills not passed by both Houses died at midnight on Saturday.

No new bills can be introduced until the 2022 session; however, the Governor can call us into special session if he believes there needs to be a change in state law. As the census data will be released at the end of September, we expect to have a Special Session shortly after that for the purpose of redistricting the state House, Senate and US Congressional seats.

Here are some highlights of the final week:

    A bill to inform landowners when fencing that may contain livestock is damaged due to accident passed. SB 359 was introduced by Senator Sypolt who represents a portion of Mineral County. During debate in the House, it was noticed that only landowners would be notified, but in some cases people lease land to hold their livestock so an amendment was offered and passed that changed the requirement to notify the landowner or lessee of the land.     Committee Substitute for S. B. 626, titled “Updating regulation for purchase of automobile catalytic converters,” is a bill that is supposed to curb the theft of catalytic converters in the state, but it will not. Catalytic converter thefts are primarily not from in-state thieves but traveling thieves. Recently a group from New Jersey was arrested in Ohio for steeling converters in Indiana.  Yes, there are some local thieves, but they will simply cross the state lines with their stolen product. The bill looks good on paper, but in reality will do nothing but inconvenience honest scrap dealers.

    SB 674 was a hard bill to understand the rational behind. The short title was, “Clarifying that unpaid restitution does not preclude person from obtaining driver's license.” Basically, if you had unpaid restitution stemming from a court case, then you could not renew your driver’s license. On the surface that seems like a good way to collect what is owed, but it turned out the people owing the restitution would lose their job due to not having a drivers license.  The restitution then went unpaid. This bill will allow them to keep their driver’s license and by default keep their job  and continue to pay their restitution.

    West Virginia is doing great things and people are taking notice. West Virginia truly is the best place to live, work or raise a family. If you have any ideas to make our great state even more attractive or just need help with a state agency, please contact me.  My office number is 304-340-3191 or you can e@mail me at Gary.Howell@WVHouse.gov