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Governor signs Drug Overdose Monitoring Act


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Gov. Jim Justice dealt with a variety of issues Wednesday, including signing the West Virginia Drug Overdose Monitoring Act.

House Bill 2620, signed Wednesday, would establish an Office of Drug Control Policy to provide various services including research, coordination and planning for funding for prevention, make policy recommendations to executive branch agencies, identify resources and prevention activities in each community and provide information regarding substance abuse in the state.

The office would be under the Department of Health and Human Resources. It would develop a plan to reduce drug and alcohol abuse and smoking by at least 10 percent by July 1, 2018.

Before July 1, 2018, the office would develop a plan to expand the number of treatment beds in locations throughout the state where the office determines to be the highest priority.

The office would collect and analyze substance abuse crime and overdose data in the state and would apply and disburse grants and other funding.

Parental notification

A bill that alters the process by which parental notification is waived for minors seeking an abortion has been signed by the governor.

Under the bill, a physician can personally give notice directly, by telephone or by letter to the parent or guardian. After that notice is delivered, a 48-hour period kicks in until the abortion may be performed.

A minor who objects to giving notice may petition a waiver to the circuit court.

The bill allows the judge to waive parental notification, after an amendment by Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, was rejected to have a physician be an advocate and go to court with the minor seeking to waive parental notification.

The House concurred with changes to the bill after Democrats voiced concern that the bill no longer allowed psychologists and psychiatrists to offer a parental notification waiver.

The bill was passed the last day of the regular session.

Women’s Commission

Saying the Women’s Commission is needed “now more than ever,” Justice vetoed a bill that would have eliminated funding for the agency.

In his veto message, Justice said the commission encourages better health and well-being for West Virginia women.

According to the commission’s website, the agency was created by the Legislature in 1977 and is the only agency mandated to bring women’s issues to the attention of the executive and legislative branches of government.

Justice said West Virginia women rank near the bottom nationally in areas of political participation, employment earnings, poverty and education and health and well-being rates.

“Critical to the success of West Virginia women is the continued work of the Women’s Commission,” the veto message said. “Our state’s women are too important to be allowed to fall behind in our state’s economy. West Virginia needs the women of our state to succeed. Without their success, West Virginia cannot succeed.”

Teens and tanning beds

The governor has also signed a bill that would prevent teens from using tanning beds in public tanning salons.

The measure prevents anyone younger than 18 years old from using a tanning bed in a public facility. Under how the law was originally, 14-18-year-olds could use tanning beds in salons with parental permission.

Lawmakers previously cited statistics of health risks associated with tanning, saying indoor tanning causes various types of skin cancers, including melanoma. Legislators said indoor tanning before the age of 30 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

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