As the final days of the 2012 Regular Session wind down, there is still a lot of work to do in the final hours as we strive to pass legislation for the benefit of all West Virginians.
Senate Bill 437, the Governor’s substance abuse bill has been one of the most discussed and amended bills of the session. The bill passed the Senate last weeks after a month of debate and amendments in two committees. The bill is currently on second reading in the House and I am hopeful that it will complete legislation prior to adjournment on March 10 at midnight.
The measure is a comprehensive approach to substance abuse in the state, addressing things such as chronic pain management, database reporting, advisory and review committees, the use of a multi-state real-time tracking system and opioid treatment program facilities.
The House Health Committee voted Monday to cap individual purchases of pseudoephedrine medicines at 3.6 grams per month and 24 grams per year.
As currently amended, the bill requires advertisements for pain clinics to include the name of a physician who also is the owner of the clinic, checking the photo identification presented at the pharmacy against a DMV database to be sure the driver's license is valid, outlining what the Board of Pharmacy has to report to the Legislature each year, and extending access to the controlled substance monitoring database to sheriff's deputies who fill out a request form with an active case number to the Board of Pharmacy.
Another amendment sets up a fund to help fight substance abuse in West Virginia. As you can see, this is a comprehensive bill with a wide range of solutions that we hope can collectively combat the state’s substance abuse problem without requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine.
I am pleased to report that Senate Bill 191, the domestic violence bill that I sponsored has completed legislative action and has been signed into law by the Governor.
The legislation expands the availability of protective orders to any victim of sexual violence, stalking or harassment. State law as previously written only provided such protection to victims who lived with their abuser or who were related to their abuser or attacker.
The bill offers protection to child sex assault victims whose abuser may be a neighbor or teacher. It also offers protection to adults who work with their abuser or stalker. This is incredibly important legislation because it closes a dangerous loophole in the law. I am proud of the work both chambers did on this bill.
Finally, I am also pleased to let you know that the Governor’s mine safety bill that I discussed in this space last week has been signed into law. I am confident that this bill will go a long way towards preventing accidents in our mines. I pledge to you that the Legislature will continue to look at ways to make mining coal safer.
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.