As we enter the last two weeks of session, the Senate is working tirelessly to make sure there is time to devote attention to every essential bill. Bill introductions are no longer permitted at this point of the Legislative session, so senators are able to spend more time in committees, preparing pieces of legislation for floor readings. As the chairman for the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources, I have personally been seeing to it that bills make it through this committee without issues.
The battle against the production of methamphetamine found success this past week with the passage of Senate Bill 6. This bill would regulate the sale of drugs used in the meth manufacturing process by requiring a prescription and providing over-the-counter substitutes that could not be used for illegal purposes. It has been sent to the House of Delegates, where it awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Committee on Health and Human Resources had a successful week, approving of several bills that we hope will positively impact West Virginians. Senate Bill 366 would transfer the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from the Department of Administration to the Department of Health and Human Resources. This program provides health services to needy children who are eligible. Since DHHR is already overseeing the insurance program, it makes sense to combine to save overhead and tax dollars.
Senate Bill 419 would create the Overdose Prevention Act. I believe this bill is necessary in order to cut down on these tragic occurrences that have affected so many families across the state. The Overdose Prevention Act would provide immunity from certain offenses for a person who seeks emergency assistance for someone who is experiencing an overdose. This incentive would save lives, rather than having those present who are too fearful of the consequences to do the right thing and seek help.
Senate Bill 599 would lift the existing moratorium on existing nursing home beds. We have an aging population, and therefore this is needed. Health care facilities would be able to apply for a certificate if they are subject to a certificate of need requirements. The state agency would receive the certification application and notify the Bureau for Medical Services, who would submit a financial impact statement. The state agency would take the statement into consideration and make their decision based on that.
In an effort to increase transparency and reduce confusion in hospitals, Senate Bill 602 has been passed by the Committee on Health and Human Resources as well. To give patients a better understanding of one’s title and qualifications, all health care providers would be required to wear identification badges. With all the worries one has in a hospital, confidence in a health care provider should not be one of them.
In Senate Finance, Senate Bill 379 passed, allowing for county officials to have a pay raise. The last raise county officials received was in 2001. Senate Bill 391 also passed Senate Finance. This bill gives teachers an across the board 2% pay raise. Both bills head to the Senate Floor for a vote.
It was my pleasure to welcome Boone County residents to the Capitol recently. Several Boone County Veterans stopped by for Veterans Visibility Day, including: Glen Alkire, Frank Miller, Curtis Mayhorn, Stanley Meeks, Larry Rice, Babe Halstead, Gary Dolin, and Maurice Gagnon. Spruce River Volunteer Firefighters stopped by as well, so I would like to thank William Woods, Erica Likens, Aaron Engle, and Larry Derek Kennedy. The Senate also had several pages from Boone this week, including Nathaniel Hunting and Jared Roberts from Hamlin PK-8 and Madison Lambert, Anna Halstead and Hannah Guthrie from Whitesville Elementary. I would like to thank all of these people for being excellent representatives of our county in their own ways.
As always, if my constituents have any questions, feel free to contact me. I am located in room 434M in Building 1 of the State Capitol Complex at 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, WV 25305. My telephone number is 304-357-7939 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.