Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin tonight praised Senate President Jeff Kessler, Speaker of the House Rick Thompson, and the members of the 81st Legislature for passing several key pieces of legislation during the 2013 Regular Session.
"For the past sixty-days, President Kessler, Speaker Thompson and members of the legislature have worked with my administration to put West Virginia families first," Gov. Tomblin said. "I appreciate their dedication to not only my legislative agenda, but to all of the legislation passed, which make improvements to West Virginia. Together, we've made our education system stronger, our roads safer, and our communities better. I'm very pleased with the progress we've made."
Some of the governor's legislative proposals passed during the session include:
S.B. 359 relating to reforming public education: This bill outlines a comprehensive plan to raise student achievement and improve the state's education system. The legislation addresses all five areas outlined by the governor before the legislative session: 1. All children will read at grade level by the end of third grade; 2. High school graduates will be ready to enter the workforce upon graduation or make a seamless transition into college or vocational school; 3. All students will be taught by great teachers; 4. Students will learn in a variety of ways; and 5. Public education will be delivered locally, not by Charleston.
S.B. 371 relating generally to the prison overcrowding and the criminal justice system: This bill is also known as the Governor's Justice Reinvestment initiative. It strengthens the supervision and accountability of those inmates on probation and parole in order to reduce the number of repeat offenders in our prison system and, in turn, reduce crime in communities throughout our state. This bill will save the state an estimated $140 million over the next five years, committing $25.5 million of these savings for community-based substance abuse treatment programs for persons released on probation or parole.
S.B. 190 relating to the funding of transportation public private partnership projects: This bill will help address the state's transportation needs by enabling public-private partnership projects. It allows for public-private partnership projects to use money from the State Road Fund when the projects are in excess of $20 million, constructed by the Division of Highways and contained in the Division's six-year plan.The legislation also streamlines the approval requirements by the Commissioner of Highways.
S.B. 185 relating to tax credit for alternative fuel motor vehicles: This bill encourages private sector growth related to the state's abundant natural gas industry by offering commercial infrastructure tax credits to companies who make qualified investments, as well as tax credits to consumers who purchase compressed natural gas vehicles.
H.B. 3086 relating to juvenile services and criminal justice institutions: This bill renames the Industrial Home for Youth (IHY) located at Salem, W.Va. as the Salem Correctional Center. In addition to this legislation, the state will transfer juvenile offenders housed at the IHY facility to other state facilities where their needs can be better met.
H.B. 2590 relating to creating Land Stewardship Corporation Act: This bill allows for the formation of a public non-profit corporation to identify, promote, and oversee programs that will remediate former mine site and manufacturing lands--preparing them for new economic development.
H.B. 2505 relating to increasing civil penalties for pipeline safety Violations: This bill brings state statutes into federal compliance and increases the maximum penalty to $200,000 per violation, per day and a maximum penalty of $2 million for a series of related violations. By increasing penalties to meet federal standards, this bill ensures the Public Service Commission of West Virginia's pipeline safety efforts will receive its full allotment of federal money.
H.B. 2513 relating to enforcement of drugged driving offenses: This bill strengthens the intent of Gov. Tomblin's bill which is to make our roads safer. This bill gives our law enforcement the tools they need to identify and remove drug impaired drivers from our roadways.
S.B. 355 relating to amendments to the Wage Payment Collection Act: This bill provides employers more flexibility related to the time in which they are to pay former employees wages due. These individuals may also request payment by mail.
In accordance with the proclamation issued by the governor earlier this week, the legislative session has been extended to allow for consideration of the budget bill.