February 4, 2011 - Volume 31 Issue 7


“The less people know about how sausage and laws are made, the better they'll sleep at night” – Attributed to Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), Prussian prime minister.

By Howard O’Cull

Although the West Virginia Legislature has no Senate/House Joint Rules requiring bills to be reported from committee by the 47th day of the session – that is February 27 this year – long-time House Clerk Greg says for bills to pass the house of origin by the 50th day, they have to be reported out of committee by the 47th day to avoid a rule suspension and an extraordinary vote. 

“That's where the 47th day comes in, but it is not specifically mentioned in the Rule,” he said. Gray is referring to Senate/House Joint Rule 5, which was adopted by the Legislature in 1987.

The rule required the filing of governor's bills with the House and Senate clerks by the 10th day of the regular session. It also established the cutoff date for consideration of bills in their house of origin by the 53rd day, which is March 2 this year.

To date, four bills have been reported from the Senate Education Committee and nine bills have been reported from the House Education Committee – that does not include bills adopted Thursday, which have yet to be reported.

In the 2010 regular session, House Education adopted 26 bills/resolutions; Senate Education reported 31 bills bills/resolutions.

This means the bulk of committee work will occur between now and February 27. While that is no surprise, the rule effectively means legislation having double committee references needs to clear the committee of first reference within the next seven to 10 days.

Application of the rule also means, for all practical purposes, the Legislature has developed a mechanism emphasizing the importance of early introduction of bills – hence introduction of the governor’s bills by the 10th legislative day.

I mention all this because the Legislature’s “heavy-lifting” will occur within the next 24 days in terms of committee work. Indeed, the rule works to discipline the two Houses so that legislation from the house of origin is not intermingled with that from the other body as was the case several years ago.

Thus, the 47th day of the session becomes the critical date for considering legislation.

Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D., is executive director of the West Virginia School Board Association


√First Day - January 12, 2011: First day of session. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)

√Twentieth Day - January 31, 2011: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)

Forty-first Day - February 21, 2011: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate and the House. (Senate Rule 14), (House Rule 91a) Does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills. Does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions

Forty-seventh Day - February 27, 2011: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

Fiftieth Day - March 2, 2011: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5b)

Sixtieth Day - March 12, 2011: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)

Source: West Virginia Legislature


"Remember, Lady Godiva put all she had on a horse and she lost her shirt!" - W. C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield (January 29, 1880 – December 25, 1946), known as W. C. Fields, was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer.)


Senate Bills

House Bills

  • House Bill 2161. Establishes the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs. Bill establishes powers and duties of the office; reportage and other considerations. House Government Organization adopted January 18. Referred to House Finance. Reference: intr.htm&yr=2011&sesstype=RS&i=2161
  • 2164. Relates to public school support computation of Local Share. Relates to Public School Support Program (PSSP) computation of Local Share. Several provisions, including language that removes a county board’s requirement to increase Local Share responsibility for  PSSP purposes when property assessments are not at 54 percent of market value as indicated by a statutory assessment ratio study. The measure also makes legislative findings with respect to the effect of under assessed property values on school funding and the obligations of  county assessors and the state Tax Commissioner. Other provisions. House Education adopted Jan. 24. Referred to House Finance. Reference: intr.htm&yr=2011&sesstype=RS&i=2164

Note: Listing is not exhaustive. Bill reference(s) may not align with latest version(s) of the bill(s) or proposed legislation.