H. B. 2544
(By Delegates R. Thompson, Perdue and Kominar)
[Introduced January 23, 2003; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter sixteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article five-u, relating to
the creation of a forensic dental office to provide an
authoritative resource to identify unknown individuals by
means of dental records; providing for the appointment of a
director by the governor; selection of skilled teams to
provide services in mass disasters and other occurrences;
duties; facilities; salaries and fees; removal of director;
and requiring hearing upon removal.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter sixteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article five-u, to read as
ARTICLE 5U. FORENSIC DENTAL OFFICE.
§16-5U-1. Forensic dental office established; appointment, duties,
etc., of director; assistants and employees;
promulgation of rules.
(a) A forensic dental office is hereby established. The
office shall be operated by a director, who may designate and have
oversight of district task forces and committees that shall respond
to needs of a particular area when the director is notified of the
need to identify unknown individuals by means of dental records.
The director may employ forensic specialists, laboratory
technicians, and other staff members, as needed to fulfill the
responsibilities set forth in this article.
(b) All persons employed by the director are responsible to
him or her and may be discharged for any reasonable cause. The
director shall specify the qualifications required for each
position in the forensic dental office, and each position is
subject to rules prescribed by the secretary of the department of
health and human resources.
(c) The director must be a dentist licensed to practice
dentistry in the state of West Virginia, who has experience in
forensic dentistry. The director will be appointed by the governor
with the advice and consent of the Senate. The governor may remove
the director for misconduct that prevents or inhibits delivery of
services for which the director was appointed or for nonprofessional conduct: Provided, That the removal may only be
made after substantial evidence is produced in a hearing before the
board. The director of
the division of health
legislative rules for the procedure of removal.
(d) The director shall operate with independent authority for
the purposes of:
(1) The performance of death investigations of unknown
(2) The establishment of the identity of the unknown persons
alive and deceased by dental records; and
(3) The formulation of conclusions, opinions or testimony in
(e) The director, or his or her designee, must be available at
all times for consultation as necessary for carrying out the
functions of the forensic dental office.
(f) The director is authorized to prescribe specific forms for
record books and official papers which are necessary to the
functions and responsibilities of the forensic dental office.
(g) The salary of the director and the salaries of all
assistants and employees of the forensic dental office shall be
fixed by the Legislature from funds appropriated for that purpose.
The director must take an oath and provide a bond as required by
law. Within the discretion of the director of the division of
health, the director of the forensic dental office and his or her assistants shall lecture or instruct in the field of legal
dentistry and other related subjects to the West Virginia
University or Marshall University school of dentistry and medicine,
the West Virginia school of osteopathic medicine, the West Virginia
state police, other law-enforcement agencies and other interested
(h) The director must have readily available a skilled team
with resources to respond as necessary for mass disasters and other
similar occurrences. All local and state teams shall train
periodically and receive continuing education to meet the demands
of providing needed services contemplated by this article. The
teams will be available for services outside the state of West
Virginia if requested. The director may request assistance from
other forensic dental teams, such as the military and other
out-of-state teams, to enhance identifications.
(i) The director may appoint and reappoint members to a local,
regional or state team for a specified term to accomplish the
purposes of this article. Any person so appointed serves at the
will and pleasure of the director. Any person appointed as a team
member must be properly licensed by the appropriate licensing board
having jurisdiction in the field of the team member so appointed.
If there is no licensing board for a particular field of needed
services for team members, the director is responsible for
determining the qualifications of those persons. §16-5U-2. Central office and laboratory.
The forensic dental office may establish and maintain a
central office and a laboratory having adequate professional and
technical personnel and medical and scientific facilities for the
performance of the duties imposed by this article. In order to
secure facilities sufficient to meet the duties imposed by the
provisions of this code, the director of the forensic dental office
may enter into agreements, subject to the approval of the director
of the division of health, with other state agencies or
departments, with public or private colleges or universities,
schools of medicine or hospitals for the use of laboratories,
personnel, equipment and other fixtures, facilities or services.
In the alternative, the director is in charge of inventory of
needed equipment and supplies for records and shall designate a
storage facility for these items. The director may also work with
local task forces to determine facilities that could be utilized
during these identification processes.
§16-5U-3. Certain salaries and expenses paid by state.
The salaries of the director of the forensic dental office,
the salaries of all assistants and employees employed in the
central office and laboratory, the expenses of maintaining the
central office and laboratory and the cost of services rendered by
persons other than the director of the forensic dental board and
the director's assistants, including expenses for continuing education and training, shall be paid by the state out of funds
appropriated for that purpose: Provided, That team members may
only be compensated for actual services performed in a real event
identification, although a stipend and reimbursement for related
expenses shall be allowed during training and continuing education
for team members. Fees for actual services shall be contracted on
an hourly rate between the director and team members and may be
received from the individual estates of the unknown individuals or
from those liable for the identification of the unknown
individuals. The director of the forensic dental office is not
liable to team members for payments of services unless otherwise
negotiated and approved prior to rendering services.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a forensic dental
office to provide an authoritative resource to identify unknown
individuals by means of dental records. It provides for the
appointment of a director by the governor; selection of skilled
teams to provide services in mass disasters and other occurrences;
and otherwise defines duties, authorizes establishment of
facilities, salaries and fees and removal of director.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.