Government, The Braxton Democrat

Legislative Update… By Lori Dittman WV House of Delegates 63rd District

The legislative deadline for members of the West Virginia House of Delegates to introduce bills passed this week as committees continued to deliberate and move those proposals through the legislative process.
A bill that would help provide funds for employees of childcare centers to pay for childcare themselves advanced from the House Committee on Senior, Children and Family Issues this week. House Bill 4002 would make anyone who works at least 20 hours per week in a licensed childcare center or certified family childcare (FCC) home eligible for a subsidy through the Department of Human Services. The proposal came through the work of a bipartisan group of Delegates looking to expand childcare options in the state.
“We are committed to ensuring the passage of meaningful legislation to address the critical needs of our community, particularly in the realm of childcare,” said Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse, R-Putnam, lead sponsor of HB4002. “We are taking a collaborative approach to this as we navigate the legislative process, and I’m optimistic the outcomes will enhance the wellbeing of children and families throughout the state.”
Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, spoke in favor of House Bill 4797 before it passed out of the House Health and Human Resources Committee this week. The measure would require childcare providers be paid by enrollment, rather than by the attendance of each child.
Pushkin, who serves as the Health Committee’s Minority Chair, called it “one of the most important bills we’ll see this session,” saying it would “help a lot of people get back to work.”
Both childcare bills are awaiting debate in the House Finance Committee.
A bill that would increase the pay for attorneys appointed to represent minors in abuse or neglect cases was advanced by committees this week to the full House. House Bill 5065 would increase the compensation rates for guardians ad litem from $60 to $105 for out-of-court work, such as interviews with clients and witnesses, travel, and
research. The pay for in-court work would increase to $125 from $80. The measure also would clarify the educational requirements for those attorneys.
The full House unanimously voted Friday to create the legislative oversight committee of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. House Bill 5337 would allow the committee to request records of the DCR, to review internal investigations and to go into executive session. It now goes to the Senate for debate.
Its lead sponsor, Delegate David Kelly, R-Tyler, who also serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Jails and Prisons, considers it an additional approach to improving the culture of corrections throughout the state.
“We’ve been saying for some time that the issues we’ve discovered in corrections would take more than just a cash infusion and more
than just a reshuffling of personnel and leaders,” Kelly said. “We’re hopeful that with an inspector general minding the top levels and this magnifying glass on the lower ones, we can continue to gain confidence in the hard work taking place throughout our jails and prisons.”
Glenville State University was celebrated on Glenville State Day. I enjoyed meeting staff and students and look forward to working with Glenville State. I would like to congratulate Dr. Mark A. Manchin and his outstanding leadership team that is making a difference in the lives of students and inspiring them to achieve their dreams. Congratulations to the Pioneer Debate Team for a strong finish at a tournament in Dayton, OH! Also, congratulations Glenville State University’s Janae Scott, Mountain East Conference shot put champion!
“Glenville State University prepares and inspires students to be thoughtful, productive, engaged, and responsible citizens who contribute to the well-being of their community, state, nation, and world.” (Glenville State University Mission Statement)
Braxton Middle School students spent time at the Capitol participating in Youth and Government Seminar. The program provides three days of experiential learning about all three branches of state government. I was pleased to recognize the eighth graders and their chaperones during the introductions held at the beginning of the floor session. Natalie Garrett was recognized with an official legislative citation for winning the County Spelling Bee and eighth grade Math Field Day.
Congratulations to the Braxton County High Wrestling Team for their eighth consecutive Regional Championship!
With the heavy snow, I am thankful for the highway crews that worked to clear roads, as well as the multiple fire departments that quickly responded to contain the Weyerhaeuser fire.
A total of 1,689 bills have been introduced in the House, and 124 of those have passed the full House. This session 25 bills have completed the legislative process. The session ends at midnight on Saturday, March 9th.
On a personal note, our family celebrated the fourth birthday of my twin great-nephews, Roman and Ryker. Born prematurely, they have both dealt with health issues and multiple surgeries. We are so blessed that they are happy and healthy as they celebrate another birthday. We also mourn the loss of an extended family member, Sonjie Brown. The mother-in-law of my husband’s uncle, CK Meadows, Sonjie will be missed by her daughters Darlene, Paula (CK’s wife), and Wanda, and by their whole family. My family remembers them in prayers for condolences at this time.
I look forward to hearing from people in the district and hope to see you out and about enjoying all the great things our area has to offer. I can be contacted at lori.dittman@wv or 304-701-8600.