Update on West Virginia Legislature

Only five days remain in the 60-day session, which is scheduled to conclude at midnight, March 9. This past Wednesday marked crossover day, the last day for bills to advance out of their house of origin if they are to be acted upon this session.

Of the 1,818 bills introduced — 1,142 in the House of Delegates and 676 in the Senate — a total of 439 crossed over and, therefore, are still alive. And yet, all of those bills must advance out of their last committee of reference by March 6 to ensure passage by March 9.

In the meantime, a total of 69 bills have completed legislative action, and Governor Jim Justice has signed 29 and vetoed one. The Governor signed Senate Bill 489 — the Pharmacy Audit Integrity Act — regulating pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), sought by WVPA.

The Governor also approved House Bill 2351, a bill requiring healthcare insurance companies to accept electronically transmitted requests for prior authorizations, even though he vetoed a less ambitious bill last years after the legislature adjourned.

The Legislature easily enacted Senate Bill 510 relating to qualifications for any individual submitting a pre-suit screening certificate of merit in a medical malpractice action.

Senate Bill 318, a bill to transfer the Medicaid Fraud Unite from the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Attorney General’s Office, passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House this week. Attorney General Patrick Morrissey has requested this transfer for a couple of years now.

Senate Bill 487 passed the Senate and is pending in the House. It provides that in a medical professional liability action alleging inappropriate staffing or supervision, a provider is accorded a conclusive presumption that the staffing level of a particular unit is appropriate upon proof of compliance with applicable state or federal laws. Conversely, if there is proof the staffing level was less than that required by such law, there is presumption of inadequate supervision and that such was a contributory cause to the injuries alleged in the case.

West Virginia moved closer to implementation of the Medical Cannabis Act with the continuing progress of two bills — House Bill 2538 and House Bill 2079 — relating to the business of medical cannabis. HB 2538 provides for the establishment of banking services fr the medical cannabis industry. It authorizes the Treasurer to seek bids form financial institutions to prove the banking services required to operate the medical cannabis permit and payment systems.

House Bill 2017 is in the Senate, after passing the House, to encourage investment in the medical cannabis infrastructure in West Virginia by increasing the number of permits allowed for growers, processors and dispensaries, while also removing limitations on the vertical integration of those entities.