We’re halfway through 2018, and it’s been a busy six months for West Virginian lawmakers. So far, they’ve passed over 240 laws and amendments, with many more still pending. Many of these were passed during the 2018 legislative session. Take a look at a few of the most significant changes so far to see how they may impact you and your loved ones.
Gas and Oil Regulations:
West Virginia passed three important pieces of legislation in hopes of providing grounds for solid futures for mineral owners. Protection to surface and mineral owners will be provided, along with a reasonable development platform for gas and oil operators. A big change will come into place when old leases from the late 1800 and early 1900s, previously held at small flat-rates, will now take into consideration modern horizontal drilling. In the long run, these laws will give West Virginia the opportunity to expand their gas and oil industry in a fair way.
This new law went into effect on June 7. Doctors are only allowed to prescribe a set number of painkillers to patients. They are required to discuss the risks of opioid use with their patients, and patients may be required to sign a contract stating they will only get their medication from that doctor, as well as agreeing to certain pharmacy restrictions. The prescribing limitations do not apply to certain patients, like those with cancer or in palliative care. This change is in response to our state’s ongoing opioid crisis.
Sales Tax Increase:
In January, several local sales and use tax rates changed. Local sales and use tax in Weston and Wayne increased by one percent, making the combined state and local tax seven percent. White Hall increased their sales and local tax by 0.5 percent. In July, similar changes will take place in Athens, Davis, Elizabeth, and Elkins.
In March, West Virginia enacted a sports betting law where they will be able to offer a regulated sports gambling platform to residents. This law followed the Supreme Court’s decision to let all states, not just Nevada, legalize and regulate single-game wagering at their own discretion.
While this change won’t take place until 2019, West Virginia has adopted measures that require voters to show poll workers an accepted form of ID to vote. Accepted forms of ID include any state or federal government issued ID like driver’s licenses, passports, Social Security Cards, concealed carry permits, student IDs, Medicare and Medicaid cards, and hunting and fishing licenses. Certain nongovernment documents like bank or insurance cards are also acceptable. In the event that a person does not have acceptable identification, they may also have a registered voter state under oath that they are who they claim to be.
Beginning October 1, 2018, any able-bodied adult, 18-49, must either volunteer or work for at least 20 hours a week to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. West Virginia will no longer be able to allow the Department of Health and Human Resources to issue waivers that previously allowed them to disregard the federal work requirements. If an individual does not meet the work requirements, they can receive SNAP benefits for up to three months every three years.
To keep up to date on all legislative changes in West Virginia, click here.