Appointment

Maroney to take lead on committee

State Sen. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, is absolutely right that triumphing over the drug abuse crisis in West Virginia is a top priority — perhaps the most critical responsibility — of state government. His new post as chairman of the Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee enhances Maroney’s power in doing that.

Maroney’s appointment to the post was announced Wednesday by Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson. It was a wise choice.

Still relatively new as a lawmaker (he was elected in 2016), Maroney’s concern and skill set were recognized quickly at the Capitol. He serves on several important committees and had been vice chairman of the HHR panel.

Second only to the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Resources is the most costly arm of state government. Out of a total general revenue budget of $4.38 billion, the DHHR gets $1.15 billion this year.

And, obviously, the DHHR has multiple responsibilities, affecting every man, woman and child in our state.

So Maroney’s oversight will be important.

The fact he is somewhat of a fresh face in Charleston may be an advantage, not just for Maroney but also for Mountain State residents. It means the new chairman is far less likely to accept the status quo and to accept the bureaucratic refrain of “you just don’t understand” from those resistant to needed change.

Statements released by both Carmichael and Maroney make it clear they view the substance abuse crisis as the No. 1 challenge — but also understand the DHHR has important work to do in other respects. While Maroney noted he is “passionate about fighting our state’s opioid crisis,” he added that “a strong and healthy workforce is a critical key to unlocking our true economic potential.”

Precisely. West Virginia’s population is aging and, in many respects, seems addicted to unhealthy lifestyles. Whatever Maroney can do to use the DHHR to change that will be welcome.

Congratulations, then, to Maroney — along with a word of advice: Don’t take “you don’t understand” or “it’s complicated” for an answer.

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