For the week ending Jan. 26, 2024
Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to complete two bills this week.
The first, House Bill 4274, was a utilitarian measure signed into law by the governor Jan. 26. It will update the language throughout state code to reflect the newly divided Department of Health, Department of Human Services and Department of Health Facilities.
The second, Senate Bill 269, would expand a 2022 law that decriminalized testing strips for the drug fentanyl. All other testing strips used to identify controlled substances are still classified as “drug paraphernalia,” subject to a misdemeanor charge. This bill, now with the Governor for action, would exempt any drug test strips from that definition.
Deputy Speaker Matt Rohrbach, R-Cabell, serves as Chairman of the Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse. He explained the bill just before the vote, saying it would permit all test strips for deadly drugs without the Legislature revisiting the issue each time a new drug is developed.
“As we’ve seen, as time has gone, unfortunately, we’ve got fentanyl, now we’ve got carfentanil, now we’ve got xylazine,” he said.
The bill came from the Joint Committee on Health studying the issue during the interim committee process. It passed the full House by unanimous vote.
The West Virginia Senate has already introduced House Bill 4595, which also passed the House by unanimous vote this week. The bill would update the authority already given to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability, which was created in 1995.
The measure would allow members of that committee to privately meet in executive session to confidentially investigate child abuse, nursing home abuse, IDD waiver, adult protective service matter, child protective services and hospital abuse.
Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, who serves as Minority Chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee, spoke in favor of the bill before the vote, saying it was “incredibly unfortunate that a bill like this is necessary.”
A total of 1,242 bills have been introduced in the House. The deadline for House bills to be introduced is Feb. 13. The 60-day, regular legislative session ends at midnight Saturday, March 9.