Lawmakers keep steady session pace - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Lawmakers keep steady session pace

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For the first time in recent memory, most members of the West Virginia Legislature are calm and collected with only eight days left in the regular legislative session.

The nature of the session, with deadlines and rules for moving bills, normally causes a bottleneck in legislation.

This year, lawmakers have been dedicated to a steady pace.

"I've met with (Delegate) Brent Boggs every week throughout the session," said Senate Majority leader John Unger, D-Berkeley. "We've tried to stay on the same page with legislation to stop the hectic rush that's traditionally taken place at the end of the session."

Unger said he strongly urged members to stay away from suspending the Constitutional rule that bills be read on three separate days to give the public ample chance to weigh in.

"I'm hoping that we can do the same thing with the House bills," Unger said. "In the Senate, we're spending less time on the floor so we can spend more time in committee."

Legislative rules mandate bills be passed from the houses they originate in by the 50th day of the 60-day session. Lawmakers hit that mark Wednesday, Feb. 29, so senators are now tasked with debating a pile of House bills that have passed the House of Delegates, and delegates must tackle a tall stack of Senate bills that passed the Senate.

The usual bottleneck of bills causes frenetic activity and long hours in the final days of the Legislature, but senators were finished early Friday afternoon with no weekend work on the schedule.

Unger said usually the Senate doesn't start on House bills until the last week, but this year, committee members started debating them this week.

Delegates had 18 bills on the agenda for the Judiciary Committee Friday afternoon, but they had not planned any weekend sessions.

The legislative session ends at midnight March 10.

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