Gun bill will stay in Senate committee for now

Charleston mayor says gun bill goes too far CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislation to nullify all city and county firearms ordinances (HB2760) is now in the Senate Government Organization Committee - where the chairman said Tuesday it will stay for the foreseeable future."We're not taking up any House bills for now," said Chairman Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, who said the committee plans to complete work on all Senate bills before taking up HB2760 or any other bills passed by the House.Snyder said the delay will also give the committee the opportunity to see if Congress proceeds with legislation tightening federal gun laws."We're looking at the national level, to see what the federal government is going to do to make any changes in gun legislation," he said.Regardless of what happens with the House bill, Snyder said gun owners in West Virginia can rest assured their rights will be protected."West Virginia will be the last place where anyone has their guns taken away," he said.Also in the Legislature Tuesday: 
  • House Judiciary Committee members advanced a bill to make failure to wear a seatbelt a primary traffic offense (HB2108) on a 13-11 vote.
  •  Currently, the violation is a secondary offense, meaning it can be cited only when a driver is stopped for another traffic violation.Governor's Highway Safety Program director Bob Tipton told the committee he believes  projections that a primary offense law will increase seatbelt usage by 7 percent and save 14 lives a year are low.Under the bill, fines for failing to wear a seatbelt remain low at a maximum of $25, but Tipton said the primary offense law is all about perception.
    "It's the perception that you will get a ticket if you don't wear a seatbelt," he said.The bill goes to the House floor, setting a precedent, since past primary offense seatbelt bills have not gotten past the House Roads and Transportation Committee.
  • After a lengthy discussion, House Judiciary members postponed action on the governor's bill to treat the offense of driving under the influence of drugs the same as drunk driving (HB2513).
  •  The issue over expanding implied consent laws to cover drugged driving is that while blood alcohol levels can be measured with a Breathalyzer, testing to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs requires blood or urine tests. Delegates questioned whether that could constitute a violation of Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches or seizures, and also whether individuals taking prescribed dosages of prescription drugs could face drugged driving charges. 
  • Legislation to license tanning facilities, and prohibit children under age 18 from using tanning beds (SB464) is again moving in the Senate.
    The bill, which advanced on a voice vote from the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, would require tanning facilities to be licensed by local health departments, and those operators would be subject to fines and license suspensions or revocations for violations of the proposed law.A similar bill passed the Senate 30-4 last year, but died in the House Judiciary Committee at the end of the session. 
  • A bill to continue to make public campaign financing available to state Supreme Court candidates advanced from House Judiciary (HB2805).
  •  However, the Tomblin administration intends to move $1.5 million out of the public financing account to balance the 2013-14 budget, leaving only $1.5 million available for the 2016 elections - which potentially would not be sufficient funding, should more than one candidate qualify for public financing.Reach Phil Kabler at or 304-348-1220.
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