By JUSTIN MARCUM
The end of the Second Regular Session of the 80th Legislature does not mark the end of progress for the state. During the recent legislative session, the Legislature passed numerous bills which will benefit the entire state, particularly the 20th District. As your Delegate, I will always work in favor of the citizens of District 20.
Senate Bill 161 broadens the child abuse prevention act to include camp counselors, coaches and others involved in youth activities, be required to report known or suspected child abuse immediately or no later than 48 hours to the Department of Health and Human Resources. This bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Tomblin. I voted in favor of this bill because I believe it will protect the safety of our children.
Senate Bill 343 allows a three month grace period for volunteer fire departments to submit data to the State Fire Marshall to be eligible to receive money from municipal pensions and protection fund or the Fire Protection fund. The State Fire Marshal is required to notify VFDs of the due date and grace period. I discussed the bill with numerous firefighters from Williamson, Kermit, Lenore, Chattaroy, and East Fork before voting in favor of this bill. The firefighters all agreed this would help them manage their busy schedules.
With the passage of the Senate Bill 469, the “OPEB bill,” $5 billion of debt owed to retired state employees will now be assumed by the state. The program covers health insurance for retirees. The original OPEB bill was created when our state was financially unable to offer pay raises to teachers and service personnel. As health care costs escalated, the state was unable to provide the financial aid promised to retired personnel. The retirement plan is the last unfunded financial hurdle facing West Virginia. It will be paid off by 2036 and will save county boards of education $485 million in future payments. This bill will be essential towards improving the business climate of the State of West Virginia. I proudly voted in favor of this bill.
As your Delegate, I have been working on numerous bills for forthcoming session. I plan to introduce legislation which will be beneficial to our teachers and education system. I also have researched and worked on potential bills that will help our seniors. Our seniors have been important to our past and remain important for our future and I will always stand up for them. Lastly, I have worked on a variety of crime-fighting bills. Other topics I plan to address include: child abuse, domestic violence and substance abuse.
I want to remind everyone that I will use my experience as an underground coal miner to fight for coal jobs. West Virginia has a wealth of natural resources and I will always stand tall with our coal miners when it comes to standing up against the EPA.
I continue to ask for the input from any of my constituents. Much work goes into preparing bills for next session and I welcome all suggestions from my constituents.