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A monumental session

March 17, 2012
By Delegate Denise Campbell , The Inter-Mountain

During the second regular session of the 80th Legislature, 213 bills completed legislative action. A total of 2,029 bills were introduced - 1,351 in the House and 678 in the Senate. A number of bills passed in one chamber, but did not pass the other to complete legislative action; 200 bills passed only in the House and 233 passed only in the Senate. Although 213 out of 2,029 bills does not seem like a lot, we have made monumental and groundbreaking strides this session.

In the final days of the 2012 regular legislative session, my fellow lawmakers and I reviewed the remaining outstanding bills that focused on and addressed issues that were of greatest concern to West Virginians.

In unanimous votes from both bodies, the Mine Safety (HB 4351) bill has been cited as one the most significant pieces of mine safety legislation in recent memory by business and labor. One of the provisions include mine superintendents or owner/operators would have to review and sign off on daily mine safety reports at least once every two weeks. The bill also ensures underground mine equipment shuts off when explosive gas levels rise. There also are other provisions.

In line with our commitment to job development and growth, in the early days of the session we passed tax relief for ethane cracker development. The bill offers a tax break for attracting a multi billion-dollar chemical plant. This legislation was coupled with the landmark Horizontal Well Act, relating to marcellus shale development.

Making strides to grow the state's strength and stability, we took another monumental step forward with the passage of Other Post-Employment Benefits, or OPEB. This bill is designed to fully fund pension plans for teachers and public employees, to privatize workers' compensation and pay down nearly $3 billion in previous workers' comp debts and fund the liability for OPEB. The state's last outstanding liability will be gone by 2036.

During the final two days of the second half of the 80th Legislature, we continued to discuss and pass bills to address the issues plaguing our state such as substance abuse and texting and driving.

The substance abuse bill, which I personally worked very hard on, addresses the regulation of opiod treatment programs and updates the rules for treatment program facilities. The bill also establishes the Chronic Pain Clinic Licensing Act. The act establishes licensing requirements for facilities that treat patients for chronic pain management in order to ensure that the patients are lawfully treated for chronic pain by doctors in facilities that comply with the requirements developed by the Department of Health and Human Resources.

In regards to the texting while driving bill, after many back and forths between the House and the Senate, we have decided to make texting while driving a primary offense starting July 1. A primary offense means a law enforcement officer can stop a car and issue a citation if a person is texting.

Thank you so much for all of your support throughout this session, and I am proud to have served you. I hope to continue to hear from you throughout the year and look forward to next year.

 
 

 

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