Legislature coming to Wheeling

WHEELING – The West Virginia Legislature will meet in Wheeling in June as part of the state’s 150th birthday celebration.

House Concurrent Resolution 50 – introduced by Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio – was passed by the state Senate by voice vote Friday. It was among a number of measures approved on the 59th day of the 60-day regular session of the Legislature.

Lawmakers adjourned at midnight Saturday.

HCR 50 requests the Legislature’s June interim session take place in Wheeling the week of June 20 to coincide with West Virginia’s sesquicentennial. A total of 180 hotel rooms in local hotels have been secured for House and Senate members and their staffs for the third week of June, according to Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I’m glad they will be coming,” Storch said.

Other bills introduced by local lawmakers also completed legislative action and now await the signature of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2548, proposed by Delegate Mike Ferro, D-Marshall. The measure increases the criminal penalties for assaults and batteries against athletic officials. It defines an athletic official as a person who enforces the rules of a sporting event, or someone supervising the participants – such as a coach.

Existing law terms it a misdemeanor to assault someone acting as an athletic official and stipulates a fine of $50-$100. Jail time can range from one to 30 days. Ferro’s bill would increase the amount of mandated jail time to a term of five days to six months.

The charge of battery on a sports official, still a misdemeanor, is defined as striking the official more than once. The offender presently can be fined $100-$500. He or she can be jailed for one to 30 days. HB 2548 increases the mandated jail time for battery on an athletic official to a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of one year.

The House, meanwhile, passed two bills introduced by Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Glen Dale.

Senate Bill 331 would permit the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority to issue bonds. SB 604 would expand the definition of “electioneering communication” to political advertising through billboards, mass mailings and phone banks.