It was business as usual for lawmakers at the state capitol last week as the House passed its first bill of the session and committee meetings got under way. Although it was a busy week, my fellow legislators and I took time out to honor one of the nation's most celebrated figures. Last Monday, representatives of both the House and Senate joined with the rest of the nation in celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
One of the other highlights from last week was the passage of the first bill in the House. House Bill 4016 would strengthen the current Ethics Act financial disclosure filing requirements.
The bill would require financial disclosures to be posted by members of the Legislature, candidates for legislative offices, members and candidates of the Board of Public Works and candidates of the Supreme Court of Appeals. Also, this bill prohibits certain public employees from registering as lobbyists until one year after they vacate their state position.
One bill that I am proud to be sponsoring is House Bill 4019. If passed, this bill would increase the maximum cash award the Employee Suggestion Award Board (ESAB) may make.
The ESAB awards state employees for having an idea or suggestion that will save the state money. If an agency proposes an award for an employee, the funds for that award come from that agency's budget.
Currently, the ESAB awards employees 20 percent of the first year savings or $10,000, whichever is smaller. HB 4019 would increase the $10,000 award, in place since 1990, to $16,000 to account for inflation.
Also last week, House Bill 4040 was introduced and sent to the House Education Committee for review.
If passed this bill would require county Boards of Education to adopt an icy conditions and emergency plan designed to guarantee 180 separate days of instruction for students. It would also allow county boards of education to select the beginning and ending date of the instructional term of the school calendar.
This would greatly assist the schools in making up for cancellations.
I am deeply interested in hearing from my constituents regarding school calendar adjustments.
Additionally, as a member of the House Education Committee I am especially interested in hearing from my constituents regarding several other issues. The first is increasing compulsory school attendance from age 16 to 17 or 18, changing school personnel hires back to the old notification system, and the hiring and evaluation process of school personnel.
If you would like to follow the progress of any of the bills this session and the daily action of the Legislature, visit the 79th Legislature on the Web at www.legis.state.wv.us/.
Additionally, streaming audio of all committee meetings and floor sessions can be heard by following the links on the Legislature's homepage.
As always, I open my door to questions, comments and concerns from the people in the 46th District. You can reach me at 304-340-3146, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at my office address at Room 204E, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, W.Va. 25305.