As the second session of the 81st Legislature progresses, my fellow legislators and I continue to search for ways to improve the health and quality of life for West Virginia citizens. As the representative for the 7th Senate District, one of my main concerns is the water crisis in Boone, Lincoln and Logan Counties.
While the water crisis appears to be approaching its end, the Legislature is still hard at work to take the proper steps that will prevent something like this from happening again. I have been attending meetings of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, as well as Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s press conferences, so as to stay up to date with the details of the situation. I am still working to better educate myself on the leaked chemicals and their effects; and would encourage the ongoing testing of the water to make sure it stays safe.
I am also a co-sponsor on Senate Bill 373, introduced by Senator John Unger. This bill would keep track of the amount of water used by large quantity users, require drilling contractors or well owners to report the depth of groundwater, require the registration of existing aboveground storage tanks, and direct the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a program to regulate new and existing aboveground storage tanks. This would be an essential piece of legislation for assuring that the events that occurred at Freedom Industries are not repeated. I am calling on the Bureau of Public Health to partner with the WVU School of Public Health to monitor all effects of this chemical leak.
Once again, I would like to thank every person who helped the citizens of this great state push through this crisis. Without these people, we would not be getting back on our feet so quickly. West Virginians should not be concerned about the quality of their water. However, if your water still smells of liquorice, I would suggest still taking the proper precautions and report to your local EMS or water company
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources has been hard at work, and has passed several bills out of committee. Among these is Senate Bill 381, which would require CPR and the Heimlich maneuver to be taught in the public school system as a condition of graduation. I personally introduced this bill because these are skills I feel every citizen has the responsibility to learn in order to help one another. I have also introduced Senate Bill 12, which would allow expedited partner therapy. This would permit prescribing antibiotics for the partner of a patient with a sexually transmitted disease without examining the partner. The Center for Disease Control says this will decrease the occurrence of STDs.
The Department of Health and Human Resources provided their budget to the Senate Finance Committee this week, which showed that the largest healthcare costs come from poor health statistics. This has to change. We have several programs in place to achieve a healthier population, and will continue to implement new plans to accomplish this.
With the extreme winter weather conditions we have been facing recently, I encourage everyone to take the proper precautions to stay warm. If you are headed outside, wear multiple layers, as well as a hat, gloves and a scarf. Check on your sick and elderly family members and neighbors. Use towels to block drafty doors. If you are a low-income home, you may be eligible for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program - (LIEAP). LIEAP assists eligible households with the cost of home heating. There is also a crisis component that is available for households without resources facing the loss of a heating source. Eligibility for both program components is based on a combination of factors, including income, type of heating payment, and total heating costs. To see if you are eligible, please call 1-800-642-8589, or visit: http://www.wvdhhr.org/bcf/family_assistance/utility.asp
If my constituents have any concerns or suggestions, please feel free to contact me. I am located in room 439M in Building 1 of the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, WV 25305. I can also be contacted by telephone at 304-357-7939 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.