The second session of the 81st Legislature has been hard at work introducing, discussing and voting on bills that best represent the interests of our respective constituents. Representing three of the counties affected, one of my main priorities over the past several weeks has been working on legislation that will help those affected by the water crisis and will prevent it from happening again.
I am proud to announce Senate Bill 373, of which I am a cosponsor, was passed by the Senate and has been sent to the House of Delegates for consideration. This legislation would change the definition of a large quantity water user to a person using at least 300,000 gallons of water within 30 days and require them to submit an annual report of water withdrawals and usage. Agencies that fund the stream gage network would have to notify the Commission and the United States Geological Survey if they cannot maintain the same level of funding. Drilling contractors and well owners would be required to report the depth of groundwater of drilled wells and report survey results annually. This legislation would also require the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection to create a program that would register and regulate aboveground storage tanks. This bill is a tremendous step toward creating a safer West Virginia.
In addition, officials are still monitoring the current water situation to determine its potential short term and long term effects. After meeting with the state health director, Dr. Tierney, and other officials on January 30th, I am reassured. The chemical does not break down to formaldehyde. Its lifespan is 28 days, and no more is entering the intake at the water company. I am still attending Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources meetings to gain the knowledge to help in any way I can.
Substance abuse has been another issue heavily discussed in recent weeks. I am the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 1, which adds several drugs to our state’s controlled substance schedules that are found on the federal schedules. Prescription drug abuse is a major issue and we need to take the proper action to prevent abuse.
One of my other bills, Senate Bill 336, would provide police, fire and emergency service personnel with Naloxone and allow them to administer it to those suspected of a narcotic overdose. Naloxone works as an opioid antagonist, which would counteract an overdose. Personnel will be trained on the proper uses of the drug so as to provide for everyone’s safety.
Another key piece of legislation introduced was Senate Bill 455, the West Virginia Move to Improve Act. Adult obesity costs our state $8.9 million a year, while childhood obesity costs $198.1 million in Medicaid costs. This bill would take the proper steps to reverse this problem and create a healthier, less expensive lifestyle from which West Virginia will benefit. Nutritious meals and snacks would be provided in schools and would require at least 30 minutes of physical activity to be integrated throughout day. Teachers and staff would receive the proper training to encourage physical activity to become a lifelong habit of students.
If my constituents have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. My office is at 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.