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Update from Charleston, WV, Legislature

February 1st, 2024 by WCBC Radio

From Delegate Gary Howell:

As we enter the second full week of the 2024 session of the West Virgnia Legislature it is getting busy.  Many stakeholder meetings are being held, in the meetings we work the small details on bills and make compromises to bring a bill to the floor in a form that can pass.  These meetings are important to the process.  As a citizen legislature each with a different background, we are able to bring different views and ideas to bills to make them better.

Monday was an extremely busy day for me as it was Tourism Day at the Capitol, being the Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Tourism, I was in high demand. My day started at about 7AM and ended at 11PM. My day started normal with the daily morning Republican Caucus meeting, then the Monday morning major chairs meeting. 

A group that puts on festival style events stopped at the West Virginia booth at a trade show in November of last year and learned about West Virginia.  They liked what they saw at the trade show, so they made the trek to our Capitol for Tourism Day.  We set up meetings with various venue operators that could meet their needs. The following day they were traveling the state seeing the venues in person.

At 10 we presented a citation to the Secretary of Tourism, Chelsea Ruby on the House floor with well over one hundred people in attendance.  We had meetings with representatives from Snowshoe and Timberline ski resorts.  The ski industry is thriving in the state and is having a phenomenal growth rate.  Timberline failing five years ago was purchased by Perfect Slopes North and with their investment in the facility it is now the top ski resort on the east coast and rivaling those in the west.

After floor session meetings continued.  Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area met to discuss tourism.  Mineral County lies within their area, and they provide many tourism related services including help with grants for things like biking and hiking trails, water trails, signage and more.  Mineral County Commissioner “Dutch” Staggs met with me as he was down at the capitol on tourism day.  We then moved to the Culture Center for a West Virgina Hospitality & Travel Association reception.  The reception featured restaurants from around the state providing their signature dishes to sample.

One of the more notable bills to pass the House this week was HB 4431 which will, if it becomes law, permit the cremation of unidentified remains in state custody.  We were told some of the oldest have been in refrigerated storage since the 1960’s.  DNA samples will be taken, and tissue samples will be preserved for future need.  The bodies are currently stored in refrigerated trailers.

Another bill to pass will help the state attract medical doctors.  HB 4768 increases the number of out-of-state medical students receiving in-state tuition rates who agree to practice for a specific time within West Virginia.  It is believed that the lower cost of tuition will attract those from other states to our state’s medical schools and the requirements to practice in the state will have them stay after their required time is up.

The House Committee on Economic Development and Tourism met and took up a bill entitled HB 4941 sponsored by Delegate Kathie Crouse.  The bill requires the acceptance of cash as a form of payment in any retail mercantile establishment in which food is prepared, sold, or served in this state, or other establishment offering goods or services for sale.  While it is printed directly on our bills “for all debts public and private” some establishments will ignore that.  This bill will put in place a $500 fine for failure to accept cash.

If you have any questions, need help with a state agency, or just have an idea that you think would make the state better, please let me know. My contact is, and my phone is (304) 340-3191.