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President's Column

President of the Senate and Lt. Governor, Jeffrey V. Kessler

Date: 02/16/2012

Protecting WV Children

With only three weeks remaining in the 2012 Regular Session, the Senate continues to work to pass legislation to improve the lives of the citizens of West Virginia.

Monday, Feb. 20 marks the 41st day of session which makes it the last day to introduce bills in the Senate and the House. This cut off date allows for ample time for committees in each body to consider legislation. This cut off does not apply to legislation that originates in committee or to supplemental appropriation bills.

As of this writing, 621 bills have been introduced in the Senate and 58 have been passed and are now in the House being considered.

This week, we passed Senate Bill 484, which would promote the safety, well-being and timely permanency of children in child abuse and neglect, family court and/or juvenile cases.

This bill was requested by the Supreme Court of Appeal’s Court Improvement Program Oversight Board after they recognized that our current system for handling child abuse cases is flawed. Provisions in this bill include:

-Amending state Code so that it is in compliance with federal law or consistent with the West Virginia Rules of Procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings -Requires judges to provide in the court order the reasons why a child is being placed out-of-state as opposed to remaining in the state. -Establishes a process specific to child abuse and neglect cases and also status offenders and delinquents. -Requires attorneys appointed in child abuse cases to have eight hours of training each year. -Clarifies that the circuit court has exclusive jurisdiction over child abuse and neglect matters.

This is a comprehensive bill to protect children. I am confident the House will move this bill forward.

We also passed Senate Bill 418 this week. This bill would require that members serving on the West Virginia Parole Board must have been a state resident for at least five consecutive years and must have a degree in criminal justice, social work, sociology, psychology or sufficient experience needed to perform duties of the office.

This bill is important because I believe need people with some level of experience and expertise deciding when our inmates have been rehabilitated to the point that they stand a good chance of being productive members of society upon release.

I look forward to updating you next week as we get closer to the end of the 2012 Regular Session.

If you would like to follow the daily action of the Legislature, visit the 80th Legislature on the web at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/.

I hear your voice and I encourage all of you, regardless of party or affiliation, to contact me with any concerns you have regarding issues facing our district or our state. You can write to me at: Jeffrey V. Kessler, State Senate, Room 227M, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305.






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