Government, News

Recent bills passed by the House

CHARLESTON — Here are some other bills passed by the House of Delegates and sent to the Senate on Tuesday.

HB 2982 allows winners of lottery draw games, such as Powerball, who win more than $1 million to apply to the Lottery Commission to remain anonymous. They must pay a fee of 5 percent of their winnings. If it becomes law, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2019. Passed 89-9.

HB 4016 requires the state auditor to create a transparency website for residents to view financial transactions. This site now exists and Passed 98-0.

HB 4154 is called the Regulatory Reform Act and expedites permitting for projects of “critical economic concern.” Passed 95-3.

HB 4309 prohibits the sale of products containing the cough medication dextromethorphan, also called DMX, to anyone under 18, in an effort to curb abuse of the medication. Passed 95-4.

HB 4623 is intended to address the rising number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, from mothers who use drugs. It allows providers, with the patient’s permission, to undergo a drug screening. It describes consequences for refusal. Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, praised the bill’s intent but said it could discourage women from seeking prenatal care.

Health chair Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, said the number of NAS births is approaching 1,000 per year. Each costs the state about $36,000 to $53,000 per day for up to 16 days. A colleague filling in for him delivered an NAS baby this week whose survival is still in question. While positive reinforcement is preferred to help these mothers and their babies, sometime consequences are needed. It passed 85-14.

Several bills on second reading were moved to the regular House Calendar, called the inactive calendar, where they will likely die. Among them was HB 4563, which calls for a severance tax exemption for low-producing wells.

As The Dominion Post learned last week, the economics of low producing wells makes it hard for small producers to get by. And several small communities rely on older conventional wells to supply their gas. Nobody has drilled new vertical wells in Southern West Virginia for about 10 years and the communities are facing gas shortages.

The bill’s goals, among others, were to allow the operators to do some maintenance work and maintain the free gas for users at the wellheads.