West Virginia Lawmakers Advance Education, Sober Living, Vaping Bills

West Virginia lawmakers bills education

As the final hours of West Virginia’s 60-day legislative session ticked away on Friday, lawmakers found themselves in a race against time to pass critical bills addressing issues in education, substance abuse recovery, and public health.

In a significant move, the House of Delegates voted to empower elementary school teachers to more easily remove disruptive, unruly, and violent students from their classrooms. The bill, which applies to students in kindergarten through sixth grade, is now headed to the Senate, where it is expected to receive approval.

Delegates engaged in a spirited debate over the legislation, with supporters arguing that it is essential for maintaining classroom control and ensuring a productive learning environment for all students. “If you cannot control, you cannot teach,” declared Del. Andy Shamblin, R-Kanawha. “That is the bottom line of the entire equation.”

However, some delegates expressed concerns that the bill could lead to excessive student removal, potentially harming academic performance. “We have to make sure that we do better,” urged Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell.

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In another significant development, the House passed stricter regulations for sober living homes, which provide crucial support for individuals in drug recovery. The proposed law mandates a base-level registration process to help state officials track the number of sober living homes in operation and reinforces higher quality standards through certification. It also closes loopholes to ensure that taxpayer dollars only support certified homes.

Advocates of the bill, such as Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, emphasized the importance of targeting funding to drive industry improvements while protecting reputable providers. “If you want to clean up the industry, go after the money,” Pushkin stated. “This bill does that, and this will not have a negative impact on the good providers.”

Meanwhile, the Senate took action to address the growing vaping epidemic by passing new restrictions, including raising the legal age for purchasing vapes and tobacco products to 21, in line with federal law. The legislation now heads to the House, where delegates have previously agreed to rules on checking IDs but had initially passed a measure increasing the legal age.

Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, stressed the importance of age verification for certain tobacco products, ensuring that only individuals 21 and older can access these items.

As the legislative session drew to a close late Saturday night, West Virginia lawmakers remained committed to addressing the state’s most pressing issues and creating a safer, healthier, and more productive environment for all residents. The passage of these bills marks a significant step forward in achieving these goals.

News source: https://www.wsaz.com/2024/03/09/wva-lawmakers-advance-discipline-sober-living-vaping-bills/

Matthew Ma