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Senators flush House diaper bill in protest over House inaction on Senate bills

MORGANTOWN — Senators flushed a House dirty diaper bill down the toilet on Tuesday as a form of protest for House inaction on a host of Senate bills.

HB 5002 would require that all state-owned rest areas and welcome centers built after Jan. 1, 2025, have at least one diaper-changing station in male and female restrooms.

It passed the House 96-3 on Feb. 13 and cleared Senate Finance last Friday. It was on third reading for passage on Tuesday.

Finance chair Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, joked while explaining the bill that it would take away any excuses for dads who didn’t want to change diapers at rest stops.

But Minority Leader Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, rose to point out that the Senate has sent a lot of good bills to the House that have all been ignored.

“What they send us — a bill about changing a poopy diaper at rest areas. … It’s a pretty good metaphor for how they do business down the hall.”

After that comment, President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, briefly consulted at the president’s dais. There were chuckles all across the chamber.

Takubo returned to his seat and moved to send the bill to the Rules Committee, and everyone agreed. It could die there.

But the session doesn’t end until Saturday, so perhaps the bill could come back to life if the House moves some Senate priorities. The two senators leading the Senate Judiciary meetings have been regularly reminding delegates, who come in to testify about House bills, that there are a bunch of good bills sitting over in their chamber.

The Senate did move a number of other House bills. Among them was HB 4940, which deals with squatters.

The bill says a squatter is a person occupying a dwelling or structure who is not entitled to be there under a rental agreement or otherwise authorized to occupy the structure.

The bill says squatters are considered trespassers — a criminal offense — and landlords do not have to seek a court order to have the squatter removed. The landlord can just call the police.

It passed 34-0 and returns to the House for amendment concurrence.

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