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W.Va. coalition against child poverty sees successes

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — As Stephen Smith sees it, this legislative session may go down as the one that made ending childhood poverty a priority.

The Our Children, Our Future Campaign saw much of its legislative platform pass during the regular session that ended last weekend, said Smith, a member of the coalition’s steering committee.

Four of the coalition’s top goals — preserving funding for family support programs and in-home family education, raising the minimum wage and creating a Future Fund — passed, Smith said.

Two goals — bills to increase physical activity in the schools and to require a doctor’s prescription for medicines with ingredients used to cook meth — failed, he added.

“I think people are going to look back on this as a historic session in terms of the fight against childhood poverty,” Smith said. “It’s hard to feel that way right now because the meth lab fight was so dirty and so brutal.”

Smith was referring to drug companies that lobbied against Senate Bill 6, which would have required a prescription for cough syrups and other medicines containing pseudoephedrine. The ingredient is used to make meth.

The bill increasing minimum wage was a huge victory, Smith said.

“The average person who’s affected is a 35-year-old woman with a child or two,” he said. “It’s not about 16-year-olds and summer jobs…”

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