Update: The campus carry bill was voted down in the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 7-9 vote Tuesday night.
With one week remaining in the legislative session, the campus carry bill is now in the hands of the West Virginia Senate after the House of Delegates advanced the bill late last Wednesday.
“The Campus Self Defense Act” was introduced in the Senate last Friday. But before going to the floor for a full vote, the bill must pass both the Senate Judiciary and Finance committees.
WVU Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said in an interview Thursday that the bill has backing in the Senate and it likely has the votes to pass it.
“I think there’s a lot of support for it,” Alsop said.
The bill might also have bipartisan support, Alsop said. He said he did not want to get into the prediction game, but “my suspicion is there are some Democrats that will vote yes, and they’ll be a lot of Republicans that vote yes.”
The Senate is currently made up of 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats.
Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, said last Thursday that “the Senate is going to get our chance to reclaim our place as the more rational body,” when referring to the highly-emotional debate in the House over the campus carry bill the night before, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Alsop said he hasn’t received much word from the Senate about the campus carry bill, and that WVU put more emphasis on working with the House to work on particular exemptions and amendments. He added that senators probably wanted to wait until the bill actually passed before going to work on it.
“A lot of our time has been focused on the House. We have spoken with Senate leaders; I haven’t heard specifically from any Senators about any particular amendments or subject matter areas moving forward,” he said.
“Just like we were engaged with House leadership, we will be engaged with Senate leadership on the legislation,” he added.
Before the House voted 59-41 to send the bill to the Senate, lawmakers voted on a series of amendments, including 10 or 11 sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, the most outspoken Republican opponent of the bill. All but one were rejected.
Delegates traded jabs throughout the process, accusing legislators for blindly following NRA guidelines and doubting that colleges would accurately report gun statistics.
And for a brief moment last Wednesday, the campus carry bill was dead. The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday morning to not let the bill go to the floor for a vote, but later that evening the same committee voted to send it to the floor.
“I think everybody was surprised,” Alsop said about the vote. “Everybody we had talked to were not anticipating that the Rules Committee would move it to inactive calendar.”
Alsop said the University did have a feeling, however, the bill would resurface.
“We thought that the advocates for the bill would try to find some way to dislodge it or convince others to move it back to the active calendar, which is what ended up happening,” he said.
He said the supporters of the bill voted against most of Shott’s amendments because they thought some of them would undo the major policy purposes of the bill.
“The overall tenure was that it would have broadened the legislation beyond what the supporters of the bill were willing to go,” Alsop said.
But he said the 12 exemptions that were included in the bill were the product of WVU and the supporters of the bill working together.
“Those are a direct result of University leadership expressing its concerns about the legislation and the supporters of the bill being willing to accommodate our concerns about the bill,” he said.