Copyright 2014 Charleston Newspapers
Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia)
A bill passed by the Senate Education Committee would allow the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission to recognize college prep teams.
St. Joseph High School in Huntington is home to a top-flight basketball program known as Huntington Prep.
Huntington Prep operates separately from St. Joseph High School's own team, but team members are enrolled at the school.
However, the activities commission doesn't recognize the team, meaning the team can't compete in national tournaments it might qualify for.
"In order for them to be able to play for national champs or in national events, they need to be recognized by the SSAC of their state, in this case West Virginia," said Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, and chairman of the committee.
Plymale said he and other members of the committee had talked with Gary Ray, executive director of the activities commission, to solve some of his concerns about the legislation.
Plymale said allowing the team to officially compete nationally will be an economic boost for the Huntington area.
"I'll say from the local school, representing where this area is, this is a big benefit to the economy," he said. "It's economic development for Huntington."
Passage of the bill means the team would be eligible to compete in the National High School Invitational, televised on ESPN, and other similar tournaments.
"I support this bill," said Sen. Greg Tucker. "These teams are on ESPN. It's Huntington Prep from Huntington, West Virginia. We get recognition nationally. These kids are top notch. It's free publicity, good publicity."
The bill contains a second reference to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Plymale said he'd ask to have that second reference waived. If that happens, Senate Bill 540 will be reported to the Senate Floor.
The Unfair Trade Practices Act could be repealed.
The Senate is considering two bills - Senate Bill 368 would repeal the act entirely and Senate Bill 491 would exempt sales of gasoline from the act. According to committee counsel, the act prohibits merchants from selling goods below cost.
This is often referred to as predatory pricing, which is generally defined as sales below price by a dominant firm over a long period of time for purpose of driving competitors off the market.
Competitors then increase prices to recoup cost lost once those smaller competitors are out of business. The Unfair Trade Practices Act is an attempt to reduce that predatory pricing.
However, counsel said, the U.S. Supreme Court has said predatory pricing is rare and hard to prove in today's culture. Justices have said the courts should not intervene. As a result, many states are repealing their unfair trade practices laws.
Counsel said it is her understanding the attorney general's office typically does not bring many lawsuits under the act because they are difficult to pursue and defend.
The bills have been referred to a subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson. Other members of the subcommittee include Sens. Donald Cookman, D-Hampshire, Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson and David Nohe, R-Wood.