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Missed deadline scuttled W.Va. meth lab bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A possible agreement to salvage legislation designed to reduce methamphetamine labs in West Virginia was nullified on the last night of the session, after the House of Delegates failed to properly record a report by a 9 p.m. deadline.

House lawyers delivered the report at 8:57 p.m., but the proposed agreement on the bill sat on a clerk’s desk for the next 30 minutes, while House members were on break.

The House reconvened at 9:30 p.m., but by then it was too late.

“When I came back in the chamber, it was just lying there. Time had expired,” House Clerk Greg Gray said Monday. “Legislative Rule 3 requires that these reports be announced when House members are in session.”

At about 8:35 p.m. Saturday, three members each from the House and Senate held a conference committee meeting in the foyer behind the House chamber to discuss a possible compromise on the meth lab bill (SB6), which would have imposed restrictions on the sale of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, a key meth-making ingredient.

House members wanted the legislation to include a provision that would require a voter referendum before counties could mandate that residents get a doctor’s prescription for pseudoephedrine products. Earlier in the day the House had amended the legislation to include the voter-referendum requirement.

Senate members on the conference committee suggested that county commissions be able to pass ordinances that would make pseudoephedrine prescription-only without a public vote.

The brief meeting of House and Senate members became hectic, with lawmakers having to shout questions and answers across a swarm of media and lobbyists.

With House members refusing to compromise, senators on the conference committee members agreed to take the House version of the bill back to the full Senate for a vote…

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