Legislative Session is over. Was it a good year for West Virginia's kids?
Is it just us, or does it seem like session ended months ago, instead of two weeks ago? Which isn't to say it was uneventful; the West Virginia legislature sent a record number of bills to the Governor's desk for his signature. The House passed 188 bills; the Senate passed 168, totaling 356. That's more bills than we can remember ever passing during one session. Were any of them focused on keeping kids healthy? The good news is, yes. While there's still the chance the Governor will veto them, let's look at the good things these bills will do.
Senate Bill 150, the budget bill, included $19.8 million to finally clear the I/DD waiver waitlist.
House Bill 4092, or the "Foster Care Bill," enjoyed bipartisan support and significant amending as it moved through the process. It spent 40 days in the House alone. Senate Judiciary even removed the bill's fiscal note just days before the end of session. Still, the bill passed, with many legislators on both sides of the isle calling it the most important legislation to pass during session. There are lots of components to the bill that address the needs of kids and families. More on the bill here and here.
House Bill 4773, "creating a workgroup to investigate and recommend screening protocols for adverse childhood trauma in this state," passed the Senate unanimously. We'll be sure to keep you looped in when the workgroup is assembled.
Senate Bill 723, requiring WVDE develop a plan based on analyzed data on school discipline, passed as well. More on that bill here. This would require WVDE to study school discipline statewide, develop a program to address the study’s findings and report back to lawmakers every two years on data and progress made. Research has shown that nationally, black students receive more out-of-school suspensions in our public schools than white students. This bill could help address inequities in the way public schools discipline students.
House Bill 4378, "revoking licenses of teachers who abuse kids," will, among other things, require county boards of education to finish investigating an employee, if abuse is suspected, even if the employee resigns before the investigation is done. More details here.
House Bill 4415 will create a Missing and Endangered Child Advisory System. Learn more here.
House Bill 4497 requires an automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on the school or event grounds during all games or practices “under the control, supervision and regulation” of the WV SSAC. Once enacted, it will be called the Alex Miller Law in memory of the Roane High School football player who died during a football game last year.
House Bill 4543, or the "Insulin Bill," addressed the rising costs of insulin for diabetics. The original bill would have capped the monthly cost of insulin at $25 a month, but the bill was amended to raise the cap to $100. In addition, the bill required insurance providers to cover diabetes equipment, but those costs are not capped. More here.
Many thanks to the tireless advocates who walked the marble floors, working for West Virginia's kids. Your hard work passed meaningful legislation, and we appreciate it!
Keep an eye out for a list of interim study resolutions, coming soon. We believe school health may be on that list again this year.