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Introduced Version Senate Bill 628 History

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Senate Bill No. 628

(By Senators Unger, Yost and Stollings)

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[Introduced February 17, 2014; referred to the Select Committee on Children and Poverty; and then to the Committee on Health and Human Resources.]

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A BILL to repeal §17-4A-1, §17-4A-2 and §17-4A-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §16-46-1, §16-46-2, §16-46-3, §16-46-4, §16-46-5, §16-46-6 and §16-46-7, all relating to creating the Healthy Children and Healthy Communities Act; providing a short title; defining “complete streets”; requiring consideration by the Division of Highways and local governments of the implementation of pedestrian-friendly policies for all streets in order to encourage and allow utilization for a healthy active lifestyle; requiring consultation by the Division of Highways with the Bureau for Public Health to determine options for healthy community activities; providing for model policies; creating exceptions; creating the Healthy Communities Advisory Board; providing for reimbursement of mileage expenses of board members; requiring annual reports; and requiring county school boards, the Bureau for Public Health and the Division of Highways to investigate possibilities for collaborative agreements for use of all available public facilities in communities for creation of healthy lifestyle opportunities and submit a report to the Joint Committee on Children and Families outlining how every public facility may be utilized by respective communities.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §17-4A-1, §17-4A-2 and §17-4A-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be repealed; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §16-46-1, §16-46-2, §16-46-3, §16-46-4, §16-46-5, §16-46-6 and §16-46-7, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 46. HEALTHY CHILDREN AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES ACT.

§16-46-1. Short title.

    This article may be cited at the “Healthy Children and Healthy Communities Act.”

§16-46-2. Legislative findings and purpose.

    (a) The Legislature finds that West Virginia’s roads have long served to connect communities, and enable the movement of people and goods throughout the state. They allow children to get to school and adults to get to work. They help allow for the excavation and movement of resources such as coal, natural gas, and timber, which have served as the backbone of America’s growth and prosperity. Currently, however, many roads in the state are designed with only use by motor vehicles in mind. Roads, especially those in the state’s cities and towns, should be designed for everyone–-whether young or old, on foot or on bicycle, in a car or in a bus. Roads designed for all users promote safety, health and cost-savings for children and families throughout the state.

    (b) The Legislature further finds that:

    (1) Childhood obesity is an epidemic in West Virginia and the United States. According to a report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, if the obesity rates continue to grow at current rates over the next two decades, the health and economic cost to our state and the nation will be staggering;

    (2) West Virginia was ranked the number two state nationally in adult physical inactivity in a 2013 report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;

    (3) Research shows that physically active children are more likely to thrive academically and socially. There is evidence that active adults are more productive and have less absenteeism than their unfit counterparts.

§16-46-3. Defining Complete Streets.

    “Complete streets” means the planning, scoping, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of roads in order to reasonably address the safety and accessibility needs of users of all ages and abilities. Complete streets considers the needs of motorists, pedestrians, users of public transportation, bicyclists and commercial and emergency vehicles moving along and across roads, intersections, and crossings in a manner that is sensitive to the location and recognizes that the needs vary in urban, suburban and rural settings.

§16-46-4. Healthy communities.

    (a) Vehicular, public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation are integral to the transportation system of this state. In class I and class II municipalities, the Division of Highways shall review all transportation improvements with regard to whether each is an opportunity to improve safety, access and mobility for all travelers.

    (b) In class III and class IV municipalities, and unincorporated areas, the Division of Highways shall consider all transportation improvements provided in subsection-a of this section with regard to whether each offers an opportunity to improve safety, access and mobility for travelers.

    (c) In class I and class II municipalities, all transportation projects receiving federal or state funds shall aim to improve safety, access and mobility for users of all ages and abilities, defined to include pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, movers of commercial goods, persons with disabilities, older adults and children, and public transportation vehicles and their passengers.

    (d) All transportation projects in class III and class IV municipalities and unincorporated areas receiving federal or state funds shall maximize safety, access and mobility for users of all ages and abilities, defined to include pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, movers of commercial goods, persons with disabilities, older adults and children and public transportation vehicles and their passengers.

    (e) In class I and class II municipalities, accommodations for all users shall be considered in the planning, design, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, maintenance and operations of any state, county or local transportation facilities receiving funds from the Division of Highways. The Division of Highways is encouraged to create a safe, comprehensive, integrated and connected network of roadways to better accommodate all users in a manner that is suitable to rural, suburban or urban locations, whichever is appropriate.

    (f) In class III and class IV municipalities, and in unincorporated areas, the Division of Highways is encouraged to consider accommodations for all users when planning, designing, constructing, reconstructing, rehabilitating, maintaining and operating any state, county or local transportation facilities receiving funds from the Division of Highways.

    (g) The Division of Highways is encouraged to use the latest and best design standards as they apply to bicycle, pedestrian, transit and highway facilities, which may include, but are not limited to, the latest editions of:

    (1) A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials;

    (2) Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach: An ITE Recommended Practice, from the Institute of Transportation Engineers;

    (3) Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials;

    (4) Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials;

    (5) Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines, from the U. S. Access Board; and

    (6) Other relevant federal, state or local guidance as appropriate.

    (h) The Division of Highways shall provide assistance to and coordinate with regional and local agencies in developing and implementing complementary complete streets policies. In the development of projects within class I and class II municipalities, the Division of Highways and municipality shall share expertise in multimodal transportation planning. In the development of projects within class III and class IV municipalities, the Division of Highways and municipality may share expertise in multimodal transportation planning where it is appropriate.

    (I) The Division of Highways is encouraged to modify its procedures, documents, training systems and performance measures in a timely manner to ensure the needs of all users of the transportation system are included in all phases of the projects. The Division of Highways is encouraged to create an implementation plan, including a schedule and a regional and local government and public outreach plan, in consultation with the advisory board as outlined in section five of this article.

§16-46-5. Exceptions.

    (a) Accommodation of all users of a transportation facility need not be considered in the planning, designing, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, maintenance or operations of any state, county or local transportation facilities receiving funds from the Division of Highways if the commissioner determines that:

    (1) Use of a transportation facility by pedestrians, bicyclists or other users is prohibited by law;

    (2) The cost of new accommodation would be disproportionate to the need or probable use;

    (3) There is a demonstrated absence of future need as determined by factors such as current and future land use, current and projected user volumes, population density and crash data;

    (4) The time-sensitive or expedited nature of the project would be adversely affected; or

    (5) The project has already moved beyond the initial planning stage at the time this article goes into effect.

    (b) The commissioner is encouraged to consult local and regional plans and leaders, as appropriate, in assessing exceptions.

    (c) Documentation of any granted exceptions may be made publicly available and shared with the advisory board as established in section three of this article.

§16-46-6. Healthy Communities Advisory Board.

    (a) A Complete Streets Advisory Board to the Division of Highways is established to:

    (1) Provide and facilitate communication, education and advice between the Division of Highways, counties, municipalities, interest groups and the public;

    (2) Make recommendations to the Division of Highways, counties and municipalities for restructuring procedures, updating design guidance, providing educational opportunities to employees and creating new measures to track the success of multimodal planning and design; and

    (3) Submit to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, through the Division of Highways, an annual report as outlined herein.

    (b) The advisory board shall consist of sixteen members, designated as follows:

    (1) The Commissioner of Highways or his or her designee;

    (2) The Secretary of the Department of Transportation or his or her designee;

    (3) The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources or his or her designee; and

    (4) Thirteen members that serve at the will and pleasure of the Governor and appointed by the Governor as follows:

    (A) One member who is a licensed engineer with expertise in transportation or civil engineering;

    (B) One member representing the American Planning Association;

    (C) One member representing a state Association of Counties;

    (D) One member representing state association of municipalities;

    (E) One member representing a major regional or local public transportation agency;

    (F) One member representing a national association of retired persons;

    (G) One member representing an organization interested in the promotion of bicycling;

    (H) One member representing an organization interested in the promotion of walking and health;

    (I) One member representing an organization representing persons with disabilities;

    (J) One member representing an automobile and/or trucking organization; and

    (K) Three members of the general public interested in promoting complete streets policies, one representing each congressional district, as determined by the Governor.

    (c) The Commissioner of Highways shall serve as the first chair of the board. The board shall meet at least twice a year and at the call of the chair or a majority of the members. The members of the board shall annually elect one of its members to serve as chair after the first year.

    (d) The initial terms of appointment for members appointed by the Governor shall be as follows: Three members appointed to a term of one year, three members appointed to a term of two years, three members appointed to a term of three years and four members appointed to a term of four years. Thereafter each member shall be appointed for four years. A member shall serve until his or her successor is appointed. In the case of a vacancy the appointee shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term. Members of the board may succeed themselves and shall serve without compensation. The members appointed by the Governor are entitled to be reimbursed in a manner consistent with the guidelines of the Travel Management Office of the Department of Administration for actual and necessary mileage expenses incurred while attending official meetings of the board.

    (e) On December 1, 2014, and on December 1 every year thereafter, the board shall submit an annual report to the Governor, the Commissioner of Highways and the Joint Committee on Government and Finance on the status of implementation of section three of this article.

    (1) The annual report shall include the following information:

    (A) A summary of actions taken by the Division of Highways in the preceding year to improve the safety, access and mobility of roadways pursuant to section three of this article;

    (B) Modifications made to or recommended for protocols, guidance, standards or other requirements to facilitate complete streets implementation;

    (C) Status of the development of multimodal performance indicators;

    (D) Any information obtained on the use made of bicycle, pedestrian, transit and highway facilities together with the existing target level of use for these modes, if any;

    (E) Available crash statistics by mode, age, road type and location and other relevant factors; and

    (F) Other related information that may be requested by the Governor or Legislature.

    (2) The Division of Highways may assist the board in the preparation of the board’s annual report.

§16-46-7. Using schools as community centers.

    (a) Not later than January 1, 2015, all county school boards, the Bureau for Public Health and the Division of Highways shall investigate possibilities for collaborative agreements for use of all available public facilities in communities for creation of healthy lifestyle opportunities and shall submit a report to the Joint Committee on Children and Families outlining how every public facility may be utilized by respective communities. These entities shall examine how each school in the school board’s district, public library and other such public buildings, parks, play areas and other recreational areas may be better utilized by students and the community for physical activities. 

    (b) The report shall address the following:

    (1) The costs associated with opening buildings and other areas outside of school hours;

    (2) The practicability of opening the schools and other public facilities to additional community uses;

    (3) The anticipated liabilities and insurance costs associated with opening schools and other public facilities to additional community use; and

    (4) Options for mitigating anticipated costs.

    (c) Following the submission of the reports, county school boards and local governmental entities may, without legislative or executive action, take actions based on the information in the reports to open any schools and other public facilities for additional community uses that engage both adults and children in physical activity.


    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create the Healthy Children and Healthy Communities Act. The bill repeals the complete streets statute and includes those concepts in the new article, while requiring that the Division of Highways employ complete streets practices in West Virginia’s municipalities, while allowing for, but not requiring, its use in the state’s smaller municipalities and unincorporated areas. The bill also requires the Bureau for Public Health and the Division of Highways to investigate possibilities for collaborative agreements for use of all available public facilities in communities for creation of healthy lifestyle opportunities and submit a report to the Joint Committee on Children and Families outlining how every public facility may be utilized by respective communities.


    The language in this bill is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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