CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) — Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates advanced several bills this week as the 60-day regular legislative session passed the halfway point.
The House adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 24, which awarded the First Responders Honor Board’s three nominees for the Medal of Valor. The Medal of Valor is presented to firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services personnel and other professionals who go above and beyond the call of duty in their professional capacities.
All three nominees were recognized and honored in the House Chamber Tuesday: West Virginia State Police Cpl. David S. Fry, Upshur County Department of Homeland Security/County Emergency Manager Deputy Director Derek V. Long and Upshur County Sheriff John Michael Coffman.
House Bill 5127, which would expand the state’s “Learn and Earn” program, overwhelmingly passed the House Monday. The bill, sponsored by Economic Development and Tourism Committee Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral, would include WVU Potomac State College in the state Community and Technical College system’s “Learn and Earn” program of paid internship opportunities.
“The employer gains a highly qualified employee and a skilled labor pool,” Howell explained. “With this arrangement, students earn valuable on-the-job training while attending school, meaning they don’t have to quit one job to go to school; they can do both.”
House Bill 5179, also known as “Jaycie’s Law,” passed the full House by a unanimous vote Wednesday. The measure would require the West Virginia Department of Education to support pregnant and parenting students so they can stay in school while taking enough time for the proper medical recovery. Excused absences for labor, delivery, prenatal and postnatal medical appointments, sick children, as well as at least eight weeks of excused absences for the mother and two weeks for the father after the birth of the child all would be required. County boards of education also would be required to provide academic support options, such as virtual schoolwork and weekly visits with a homebound instructor to ensure the students remain on track for graduation. The bill also calls for schools to refer pregnant and parenting students to pregnancy help organizations.
Also Wednesday, House members unanimously passed House Bill 4933, which would exclude dentures from the current $1,000 yearly Medicaid limit. That limit includes diagnostic, preventative and restorative dental services, which excludes cosmetic services but prevented many West Virginians from getting both upper and lower plates at the same time.
A total of 1,542 bills have been introduced in the House, and 86 of those have passed the full House. Twelve bills have completed the legislative process. The deadline for House bills to be introduced is Feb. 13. The session ends at midnight on Saturday, March 9.