WV Legislature adjourns, leaves pseudoephedrine bill untouched - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Legislature adjourns without time to address pseudoephedrine bill

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The West Virginia Legislature adjourned, but one piece of legislation that had been debated for many hours throughout the session never got a final vote.

Senate Bill 6, the pseudoephedrine bill, did not pass because the West Virginia Senate could not agree with the House of Delegate changes.

Sen. Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas, said he was disappointed the bill was not advanced because he believed the only way to address the state's methamphetamine problem was to make pseudoephedrine prescription only.

After dominating most of the 2014 regular legislative session, Senate Bill 373, which became commonly known as the "water bill," passed the full Legislature just after 10 p.m.
The bill, as it stands, includes the long-term medical study of the 300,000 residents affected by the chemical spill of crude MCHM into the Elk River on Jan. 9.

Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, said he was pleased with the passage because it would instill confidence back in West Virginians.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a statement shortly after the Legislature adjourned, praising the passage of Senate Bill 373.

"The bill will require all above ground storage tanks in zones of critical concern be registered with the DEP and be subjected to annual inspection by the DEP and independent engineers," Tomblin said. "In addition to developing a reasonable regulatory structure, the bill also requires the Bureau for Public Health to gather medical information to conduct long-term medical surveillance.

"It will also require West Virginia American Water to install an early monitoring system at its Elk River plant and require all water utilities have a written source water protection plan in place to prepare for emergency situations - specifically the discharge of a contaminant into the water supply."

The teacher pay raise bill passed with the Senate's amendments to make the increase in salaries a $1,000 across-the-board pay increase. Service personnel would also be given a 2-percent increase in pay.

Senate Bill 317, relating to municipal gun laws, passed and will be sent to the governor.

The bill would uniformly streamline the regulation and application of current gun laws in the Mountain State, specifically targeting municipalities.

Under the measure, current gun laws municipalities have enacted under the Home Rule Pilot Program would be wiped out, and it would prohibit any new gun laws that would conflict with current state laws from being enacted under the Home Rule Pilot Program.

However, municipalities would be able to limit the possession of firearms in municipal buildings and property. Depending on the municipal building or area, guns are either prohibited, can by carried with a conceal permit or locked in a secure area upon entrance.

The House, in the last few minutes of the session, passed a bill that would protect an unborn fetus. Under the bill, House Bill 4588, a doctor would be punished for a misdemeanor crime if they performed an abortion after the 20-week timeframe measured out in the bill.

The proposed Attorney General Ethics Act passed the full House of Delegates, but had been stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee since Feb. 25. It would have required the attorney general to withdraw from any matter in which the office holder or member of his or her immediate family received and economic compensation and appoint outside counsel to handle the case and also to prohibit the entire attorney general's office from ever representing a state agency, official or political subdivision if the attorney general asserts a legal position that is contrary to the legal opinion ever taken by a state agency, official or political subdivision the office represents.

Kessler's Future Fund passed with amendments from the House. He said he was pleased with the passage although it would not make the state as much money as the bill that was originally proposed. 

A total of 1,876 bills were introduced during the session, and 198 measures completed the legislative process. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed 13 bills into law already, and 

Lawmakers will meet throughout the next week to work on the budget bill.