WV Senate discusses bill on Crime Victims Compensation Act - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Senate discusses bill on Crime Victims Compensation Act

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The West Virginia Senate discussed a bill that would eliminate property owners from receiving funds out of the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, suggested an amendment to Senate Bill 204, which relates to the provisions in the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. His amendment would excluded property owners from those who can receive financial compensation as a result of being a victim of a crime. Property owners in the state have received up to $10,000 per case in reimbursement funds as a result of a methamphetamine laboratory cooked in their rental properties.

Carmichael said it wasn't fair to use money from the fund, which has gone from about $6 million to $2 million because of these meth lab claims.

"It's only right to expend the money to those who have been victimized by crime and burden landowners to monitor their own property," Carmichael said.

Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, said he didn't agree with Carmichael's amendment 

He said property owners should not be burdened with the money it takes to clean up meth labs.

"These property owners are victims of crime," he said. "These property owners are in fact injured and this is something not covered by their insurance."

McCabe said their units become uninhabitable and the majority of them are simply "not in a position to fund this out of their assets."

Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said it was a policy issue and the members should decide for themselves.

Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, also disagreed with Carmichael's amendment. Barnes said Senate Bill 6, which passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 18, was making headway in cutting out meth labs in the state.

 "It's somewhat hypocritical to vote on the one hand we're for Senate Bill 6 and be for the amendment offered by Senator Carmichael," Barnes said.

The amendment was adopted, by a voice vote of yes, and the bill advanced to third reading.

A bill reclassifying counties passed the West Virginia Senate on Feb. 25.

Senate Bill 379, if passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates, would reclassify counties in the state from ten classes to five and take effect on July 1, 2014. The bill would also allow for a 12 percent pay raise to county elected officials.

Senate Bill 552, which would increase the penalty related to transferring illegal substances in the state, was sent to the House for consideration.

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, said the bill was amended after being delayed one day to exclude pseudoephedrine related products. 

Senate Bill 6, which would regulate the sale of drug products used in the manufacture of meth, passed the Senate with an amendment that the Schedule IV drugs would be illegal to transfer into the state. However, an exemption was added to give someone who wasn't aware of the rule a one-time pass at getting the arrest expunged from their record and the charges dropped.

The Senate was in recess until 4 p.m. on Feb. 25 to take up teacher pay raises and Senate Bill 317, which would change municipal firearm laws.