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Concern arises over fate of W.Va. chemical spill bill

By Dave Boucher

Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate leaders are concerned the House of Delegates might delay or split apart the bill crafted in response to the recent Elk River chemical spill.

The bill, which calls for increased scrutiny of aboveground chemical storage facilities, passed a unanimous Senate on Tuesday. The House must now review and pass it before Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin can sign it into law.

After receiving the bill from the Senate, House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, assigned three committees — the Health and Human Resources, Judiciary and Finance committees — to review and sign off on the bill before it can go before the full House for a vote.

However, this so-called “triple reference” is often considered a kiss of death for legislation.

Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, said they were surprised to see it.

Kessler said a triple reference is typically a “death knell” for a bill. Unger expressed similar concerns.

Miley said he spoke Thursday with Kessler to assure him the House is committed to passing effective legislation. While Miley acknowledged the triple reference’s traditional use, he said he’s using it in this case to ensure a “thorough and deliberative review” of the measure.

“I don’t play games,” Miley said. “If there’s a bill the House is not going to consider, we don’t need to triple reference it to get the message out there we’re not going to consider it…”

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