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Legislative roundup

Apr. 04, 2013 @ 11:44 PM

Wednesday was the last day for bills in the West Virginia Legislature to pass out of their house of origin. Bills that did not pass out of their house of origin are dead. The last day of the Legislature's 60-day session is April 13. Here's a look at some bills that missed the cross-over deadline:

BUCKS FOR BRAINS: Three bills were introduced, two in the House and one in the Senate, which would have added millions more in funding and extended the Bucks for Brains program through the West Virginia Research Trust Fund.

All three bills died in their respective committees.

Two of the bills would have added $20 million for Marshall and West Virginia universities to try and match, after both institutions successfully matched all the qualifying funds in the past 14 months.

Another bill in the House, supported by Delegate Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell, among others, would have added $25 million and allowed the other public institutions of higher education to be able to match up to 10 percent.

CIGARETTE TAX: SB593 would have raised the existing 55 cent tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack. The measure died in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. Similar legislation was proposed in the House but also failed to gain traction.

COLLEGE TUITION: SB508 would have created a three-year pilot project at six two- and four-year institutions. It would have given those six colleges and universities the ability to charge per-credit-hour tuition for credits beyond the minimum fulltime load of 12.

Marshall's chief of staff, Matt Turner, said the MU administration had many concerns about the bill and its impact on enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

FOIA: HB2884 would have made significant changes to the state's Freedom of Information Act, which gives the public and the media access to government records. The current law prevents the release of internal letters or documents. The bill would have made those internal documents available unless they fell under another exemption in the Freedom of Information Act. The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee.

SUNDAY LIQUOR SALES: HB2946 would have repealed the prohibition of retail liquor sales on Sundays. It also would have moved up the time retailers, restaurants and bars can start selling alcohol on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m. Repealing the law, which dates back to West Virginia's founding, was up for a vote on the House floor Wednesday but was removed from the active calendar.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: HB2961 would have legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons. It also would have established a drug abuse prevention fund with sales tax revenue from medical marijuana. The bill died in the House Health and Human Resources Committee.

TAX CREDITS: SB520 would have provided tax incentives for businesses that focus on emerging technologies. It would have authorized the governor to establish up to 10 geographic areas as "economic development launchpads."

Business activities targeted for those designated areas included biotechnology, nanotechnology, clean coal and natural gas technology. The bill died in the Senate Finance Committee.