As session continues to move forward, my determination for passing bills increases. My primary concerns lie with education and the health and healthcare of West Virginians.
Governor Tomblin’s education bill has surfaced in the State Senate. We are working diligently to perfect the bill by listening to educators around the state. These educators help inform us of what our school systems are lacking and they are directing us to a path of improvement.
Unfortunately, student achievement is not what it needs to be. There are many reasons for this; therefore, we are molding the bill into something that could positively impact student achievement. I am very proud of the students of West Virginia and their accomplishments; we have proven that we are determined hard-workers countless times. However, when it comes to the education of our children, settling is not an option. We can never stop improving our schools for the sake of the children of West Virginia.
We are also trying to get teachers into more critical areas of our state. There are regions where we have staff shortages, therefore equal distribution is an area of focus.
A retired teacher and citizen of Boone Country, Mary Carden, spoke before the education committee on March 5, 2013. She delivered a very passionate testimony regarding the education reform. Having someone give us an inside look on our education system helps us better understand the needs of our state. We will continue to work hard on the education bill until it is brought back on the Senate floor for voting. If we pass the bill, it will then move on the House for their decision.
Another bill that I am trying to push would provide technical clean- up to clarify that the Legislature originally intended that all actions brought against a nursing home are subject to all the limitations and provisions set forth in the Medical Professional Liability Act.
I am also the lead sponsor of a bill regarding people who steal copper and communications equipment from coal mines. The safety of our miners is being taken into consideration with this bill, as well as the safety of our citizens. Coal mining has and always will be a major concern for our state.
Some of my bills have passed through committees but have not yet made it to the Senate floor. Senate Bill 407 was just passed on from the Health and Human Resources Committee on to the Judiciary Committee. This bill would require telephone companies and cellular telephone companies to provide the names, address, and telephone numbers of its customers to the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement for purposes of establishing paternity, establishing or modifying support orders, for enforcing support orders or for distributing support.
Another bill that just passed through the Health and Human Resources Committee is Senate Bill 21. This bill requires health care providers to wear identification badges and would also create the Health Care Provider Transparency Act.
Senate Bill 201was just recently passed on to the Judiciary Committee and is another bill that I sponsor. This bill would allow for expedited partner therapy. It would permit prescribing antibiotics for the partner of a patient without first examining the partner. It would also requires the Department of Health and Human Resources to develop outreach materials and has limited liability for physician, physician assistants and advance nurse practitioners who prescribe in an expedited partner therapy setting. Additionally, the bill would make changes to the licensing portions of the code to make it permissible for the various disciplines to prescribe without disciplinary actions from their respective licensing boards.
Thursday, March 14, marked the half-way point in this legislative session and the pace is quickly starting to pick up. As of the 30th day of session, 538 bills have been introduced in the Senate. Many of the bills have been filtering through committees in order to make changes or adjustments for the betterment of the bill.
Senate Bill 11, of which I am the lead sponsor, passed through the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. The bill would update the schedules of controlled substances in the West Virginia Code to match that of the federal schedules of controlled substances. It would also make a technical modification to the definitions of “immediate derivative” and “immediate precursor”. The committee amended the bill to add Hydrocodone as a Schedule II drug instead of a Schedule III.
Other bills that have passed out of the committee on Health and Human Resources are Senate Bill 27 and Senate Bill 464. Senate Bill 27 relates to administering an opioid antidote in situations of emergency. It would allow for emergency responders, state police, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and volunteer and paid firefighters to carry and administer an opioid antagonist (Naloxone hydrochloride) only in an emergency in order to respond to opiate overdose. This can only be done by the administer if they have completed certain training.
Senate Bill 464 regulates tanning facilities. It would place a ban on tanning for anyone who is under the age of 18. Businesses with tanning beds will be required to obtain business registration certificates and register with their local health department. They would also have to request an inspection of the facility and obtain an operating permit. By doing this, the Bureau for Public Health the authority would be able to regulate tanning facilities.
Senate Bill 28 would prohibit anyone under the age of 16 years of being tattooed. It would require that any minor over the age of 16 would need to be accompanied by their parent at the tattoo studio. The parent must have a photo ID and sign a written consent form prior to the minor being tattooed. If a tattoo artist does not adhere to thEse regulations they will be penalized.
Senate Bill 30 would require the Department of Health and Human Resources and Medicaid to provide dental coverage to certain mothers of newborns. The bill requires Medicaid for basic and emergency dental care of a mother of child who is receiving Medicaid. It would be effective after July 1, 2015 and it defines what the coverage includes. This bill would only be effective for two years following the birth of the child.
Senate Bill 188 creates vendor transportation program to transport Medicaid patients. This bill permits the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to develop a transportation program for non-emergency transport of Medicaid recipient. An Amendment was made to exempt out Public Transit and EMS.
We are working diligently to pass as many bills as we can. One bill passed through the Senate this week with a unanimous vote. Senate Bill 372 creates a criminal offense for anyone who interferes with an emergency service call. It also establishes criminal penalties for the offenders. This bill has already been introduced to the House of Delegates and currently stands in the House Judiciary Committee.
SB 359, the education reform bill passed out of Senate Education. I know there are more important changes to come before the final vote in the Senate. If the bill had died in the Senate Education Committee there would be no opportunity for the process to continue. By the time you read this, I believe we will have passed an agreed to bill by all parties, that will improve student achievement.
As this legislative session continues into the second half, I will strive to represent the citizens of my district to the best of my ability. If you may have any questions or comments about a piece of legislation, please feel free to Contact me.
All legislators can be viewed in the state website, www.legis.state.wv.us. If you wish to contact me, my address is: Senator Ron Stollings, 439M, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, WV 25305. My office number is 304-357-7939.