From the desk of Senator Ron Stollings
March 20, 2014
After an eventful 60 days of bill introductions and committee meeting debates, the second session of the 81st Legislature has come to an end. I would like to thank the citizens of West Virginia, especially those from the 7th Senate District, for giving us the honor and duty of taking this state in the right direction. Although there were 200 bills to complete legislative action, I have mixed emotions on the direction of the session. There were many good bills that passed, but unfortunately many good bills did not.
The session kicked off with the unpredictable water disaster that paved the way for Senate Bill 373. This bill will strengthen the Water Resources Protection and Management Act and create the Aboveground Storage Tank Water Resources Protection Act, requiring aboveground storage tanks in zones of critical concern to be registered with and inspected by the Department of Environmental Protection. The Bureau for Public Health will be required to conduct long-term medical surveillance due to the lack of information available on 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol. West Virginia American Water will also be required to install an early monitoring system at the Elk River plant and have written source water protection plans in place. This piece of legislation is a great step toward ensuring every West Virginian does not have to worry about their water.
Senate Bill 461 would create the West Virginia Future Fund.
Senate Bill 391 will provide pay a $1 thousand pay raise for public school teachers and two percent raises, as well as $12 per month to the equity supplement for school service personnel. The goal is to increase the state minimum salary for teachers with no experience and a baccalaureate degree to $43 thousand by the fiscal year 2019. House Bill 4283 would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 by January 1, 2016.
While this session came with some accomplishments, it had its share of disappointments as well. The Senate and House could not come to an agreement in time for Senate Bill 6, Senate Bill 336 and Senate Bill 419, all of which could have helped decrease this state’s drug problem. With Senate Bill 6 requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine, Senate Bill 336 allowing the opioid antagonist naloxone to be carried and administered by emergency responders and Senate Bill 419 providing immunity from certain offenses for person seeking health care for someone who has overdosed, our state’s health and safety would have only increased .
One bill that will be discussed again for the extraordinary session is Senate Bill 432. This bill would amend the current law that reduces the funding available for a county board of education when the property assessments by the County Assessor in the board’s county are not at least 54 percent of market value. This would be of help to Lincoln, Wyoming and Monongalia Counties.
County officials can receive a pay raise if the county commission wants and the auditor says the county can afford it starting July 1, 2014.
Once again, I am thankful I was given this opportunity to improve our state. I am proud to represent the 7th Senate District, which is why I spoke in debate on the last night of session to ensure that this district and other coal rich counties are not forgotten in the Legislature’s plans. If my constituents have any concerns, please feel free to contact me by telephone at 304-357-7939 or by email at email@example.com.