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Senate increases penalties for child abuse, House promotes Cardinal service


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia Senate passed a bill on Wednesday, March 22 that would increase the prison sentence for child abuse by a parent or guardian that results in the death of a child.

Current law puts a penalty of 10 to 40 years in prison for a conviction for child abuse resulting in death. Senate judiciary chairman Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said the penalty under the proposed legislation, Senate Bill 288, would increase the penalty to 15 years to life.

Trump said the penalty brings child abuse resulting in death in line with the sentence for first-degree murder.

Senators voted 33-0 to approve the bill, with no discussion.

Also Wednesday, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill that would allow West Virginia to collaborate with other states to push for daily service by Amtrak’s Cardinal passenger train.

The Cardinal runs between New York and Chicago, and passes through Charleston, Huntington and other West Virginia stops along the way. The train heads west from New York on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and heads east from Chicago on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. More than 100,000 people ride the train each year.

Bill sponsor Delegate John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, said House Bill 2856 would allow West Virginia to enter into agreements with other states to market the Cardinal and push for daily rail service, and authorize a special revenue account within the state budget to handle any monies associated with the effort.

Delegate Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, said expanding service on the train would be a boon to the state, spurring tourism and helping business commuters.

But Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, questioned why West Virginia taxpayers should subsidize a federally-owned passenger service “that has bled cash for years, possibly decades.”

Delegate Marshall Wilson, R-Berkeley, said he supported the idea of daily rail service on the Cardinal, but said the state couldn’t afford it.

O’Neal said the bill would create a special revenue account to be dedicated to promoting daily rail service, but said there is as yet no money to put into the account.

House Bill 2856 passed by vote of 95-5.

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