Work under the dome in Charleston continues as the Regular Session proceeds into the third week. Committees have been busily working and debating the issues before them as bills are introduced and referred for consideration.
One issue that has been introduced and a bill which I am a lead sponsor of was House Bill 4003. The bill would seek to grant dual jurisdiction to counties in situations where a student who lives in one county and attends school in another in order to enforce truancy policies.
Essentially, when the county of residence and enrollment are different, an action to enforce compulsory school attendance may be brought in either county and the magistrates and circuit courts of either county have concurrent jurisdiction.
Students can’t learn if they’re not in school and I was pleased to see the Speaker of the House and others take an interest in the truancy issue prior to session in their goals for this year. But we can’t simply mandate these things, the state must provide funding to ensure that all county school systems have an adequate number of juvenile probation officers to address truancy issues.
It is our duty as a state to ensure our children get a quality education and the first step is ensuring the students are in their seats and present to learn. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of combating truancy. First and foremost, in regard to truancy, we must help create a structure that gives school, law enforcement and court officials the best opportunity to work with parents to keep children in school.
We must also make it very clear the importance of attending and being an active learner in school to both the students in West Virginia and their parents or guardians. A foundation for healthy attitude toward school and education is started at home and must be fostered through communication.
This bill, House Bill 4003, was taken up early in the session by the House of Delegates and as of this writing, had been passed by the House and was sent to the Senate for further consideration. It is my hope that the Senate will also consider this legislation and give it a full and thoughtful discussion prior to them passing it.
Also, I continue to monitor the water situation as a result of the chemical leak in to the Elk River in Charleston which tainted the water for around 300,000 West Virginians in nine counties. The Legislature has several bills introduced to prevent this type of accident from happening again and is looking into how the leak occurred.
If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues or bills before the legislature please feel free to contact me. To write me, my address is Delegate David Walker, State Capitol, Building 1, Room 203-E, Charleston, WV 25305. Or you may call me at (304) 340-3135. I encourage all my constituents to remain active and become part of the legislative process.