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HB 2980 would establish forensic laboratory fund

By Lexi Browning

The West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation that would impose additional service fees for certain civil action cases passed the Senate with unanimous approval Thursday after a series of layovers.

Delegate Riley Moore

House Bill 2980, sponsored by Delegate Riley Moore, R-Jefferson, would establish the State Police Forensic Laboratory Fund and increase circuit court service fees for cases involving two or more named defendants. A portion of the increased fee would be distributed into the laboratory fund.  

For each case involving two or more names that are not listed as “John/Jane Doe,” an additional $15 would be required “upon filing the initial pleading.” If passed, $10 of the fee will be placed in the general fund of the county in which the circuit clerk is located, and the remaining $5 will be deposited in the forensic laboratory fund. 

The fund would be established within the state’s Treasury Department and would contain money collected through grants, gifts, transfers and the court fee collections.  

Currently, portions of circuit court fees are distributed into various special revenue accounts. Depending on each case’s nature, funds are deposited into the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Fund, the Fund for Civil Legal Services for Low Income Persons or a legal service fund for domestic violence victims. 

Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, thanked the chamber for its support of the measure. 

“I wanted to thank you all for allowing this to be done,” Plymale said. “This is a major issue as it relates to counties.”

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson applauded the Senate’s unanimous support of the bill in a press release following the Senate’s afternoon adjournment, stating he was “proud of the small step” taken through passage. 

The bill will “…direct some much-needed money directly to the State Police’s Forensic Laboratory to help them work through some of their backlog,” Carmichael said. “These men and women do tremendous jobs with extremely limited resources.”

Carmichael also praised House Judiciary Chairman John Shott and the committee members for working diligently to establish the fund and ensure its passage. 

“The Legislature could not be more supportive of our State Police, and we hope this fund helps put them on a better financial footing,” Carmichael said. 

Delegates Amy Summers, R-Taylor, John Shott, R-Mercer, Ray Hollen, R-Wirt, Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, Carol Miller, R-Cabell, Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, Nancy Foster, R-Putnam, John O’Neal IV, R-Raleigh, and Steve Westfall, R-Jackson, also sponsored the bill. 

H.B. 2980 has been communicated back to the House for a final concurrence.

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