XGR-SENATE BUDGET BILL
W.Va. Senate passes budget that dips into reserve
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Senate has passed a budget bill that dips into the state's reserve funds by $125 million to balance the 2015 budget.
Finance Chair Roman Prezioso said a House lottery bill still under consideration would cut the amount needed from the Rainy Day fund by $40 million. House Bill 4333 redistributes lottery proceeds that currently go to greyhound breeders.
Prezioso said $220 million is the amount that can be spent from the nearly $1 billion reserve fund without jeopardizing bond ratings.
He said if tax revenues aren't increased during the next legislative session, he expects a significant portion of the fund will be needed to balance the 2016 budget.
The House is scheduled to pass a budget measure Friday and a compromise reached during next week's extended session.
Attorney general ethics bill likely dead in Senate
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A bill imposing stricter conflict-of-interest standards on West Virginia's attorney general is fizzling in the Senate.
Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Corey Palumbo says there's little interest in his committee to hear the bill, which targets Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. It would prohibit the attorney general from overseeing cases against companies that pay or have paid the attorney general or his family in the past five years.
The bill prohibits the attorney general from taking legal stances conflicting with state entities or officials. It passed the House Feb. 24.
The proposal stems from Morrisey's ties to two pharmaceutical companies his office was suing. A former attorney general initiated the suit over prescription pill profits the companies made in West Virginia. Morrisey recused himself. Other state agencies are now overseeing the case.
W.Va. Senate Judiciary moves forward abortion bill
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A bill to prohibit abortions performed after 20 weeks post-conception has moved forward in the West Virginia Judiciary Committee and will be heard on the Senate floor later this week.
The bill states that abortions after 20 weeks may only be performed if a doctor deems a patient's life is at risk or she is at risk of serious physical impairment.
The committee amended the bill Thursday to allow termination if a fetus isn't medically viable, but doctors must provide the best opportunity for fetuses to survive after 20 week post-fertilization.
Doctors, who could be fined up to $4,000 if they violate the law, told the committee the law may cause delay in a woman's care.
Most physicians consider fetuses 24 weeks after a woman's last period to be viable.
Morgantown hotel being sold to Colorado firm
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - A Colorado management company is buying Morgantown's Waterfront Place Hotel.
Media outlets report Englewood, Colo.-based Stonebridge Cos. is expected to complete the purchase next week. The hotel is currently owned by Petroplus & Associates of Morgantown.
Stonebridge President and CEO Navin Dimond declined to disclose the purchase price. The company does business in the state as Minsyr-Oxbridge LLC.
The hotel is a former Radisson that opened in 2003.
US 35 UPGRADE
Rep. Capito wants US 35 upgrade finished in W.Va.
WINFIELD, W.Va. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito wants to see a widening project finished on U.S. Route 35 in Mason and Putnam counties.
The Division of Highways had planned to expand a 14.6-mile section of the highway to four lanes, funding the $187 million project with revenue from tolls.
But the DOH last year began seeking alternative funding following a backlash against the tolls.
Capito plans to address the issue Friday at the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield.
In May, Capito is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Jay Rockefeller.
Morgantown police plan seat belt crackdown
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - If you're driving through Morgantown in the next couple of weeks, you'd better buckle up.
The Morgantown Police Department is conducting what it calls a "seat belt enforcement wave" Friday through March 23. The department says officers will conduct intensive patrols to enforce seat belt and child safety restraint laws during that period.
The state's seat belt law became a primary offense in July 2013. That means officers can stop motorists and issue tickets if they simply observe seat belt violations.
XGR-DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS ACT
W.Va. Senate moves forward on exotic animals ban
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Senate has approved legislation to prohibit the sale and ownership of wild and dangerous animals like bears, large cats, constricting snakes and alligators.
Sen. Ronald Miller said the Wild Dangerous Animal Act allows the commission of Agriculture to establish permits and fees to register wild animals currently living in captivity. It also exempts zoos and veterinary hospitals.
Violators could expect up to $2,000 in fines for each animal.
Miller said West Virginia is one of only six states without a similar law.
Sen. Dave Sypolt questioned whether West Virginia needs the law if federal law already prevents ownership of such animals.
Sypolt said only eight incidents involving dangerous wild animals have occurred in the state in 16 years.
The House must now approve changes to the bill.
XGR-SEX ASSAULT NURSE NETWORK
W.Va. Senate passes rape evidence collection bill
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Legislation to regulate and improve the training of nurses who collect forensic evidence in sexual assault cases has passed in both the West Virginia Senate and House.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday to create a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission to regulate these specially trained registered nurses at the county and state levels.
Sen. Corey Palumbo said the bill aims to address inadequacies in the collection of evidence in sexual assault cases. He said not every health facility currently has a trained sexual assault nurse, which can impede or prevent evidence collection.
The bill's sponsor, Del. Barbara Fleischauer, has said the State Forensics Lab estimates up to 75 percent of rape kits have collection or documentation errors.
The House must now approve changes made to the bill.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.