From The Well

January 17, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 10



Four bills originated in substance abuse committee


The House subject matter committee, Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, heard presentations and passed four originating bills during a lengthy meeting on Thursday. Delegate Rohrbach, a physician, chairs the committee. Michael Goff, Director of the Board of Pharmacy and Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, presented information about recent trends. He noted that hydrocodone and related drugs have significantly decreased from about 100 million prescribed to 30 million over the past 7 years. Prescriptions for treatment drugs such as Suboxone & related drugs have increased. The advisory board consisting of physicians, law enforcement, and others has made several recommendations to the Legislature that have been adopted over its five years of existence. “Doctor-shopping” has become almost non-existent due to monitoring and legislation. Overdose deaths are also tracked and they have found that deaths from prescription drugs are decreasing but being replaced by deaths due to illegal drugs.


Dr. Richard Vaglienti and Brian Gallagher reported on the status of the Chronic Pain Coalition, which was created two years ago and engages the medical, legal, and law enforcement community. Dr. Vaglienti stated that use of opioids is decreasing but there is concern about patients in chronic pain being “left out in the cold” due to providers’ fear of legal repercussion. “The regulations have interfered with the patient/practitioner relationship,” stated Vaglienti. He recommended that the committee and the Coalition review practices in other states regarding patients in chronic pain.


All four bills originating from the committee passed. They propose the following:

·     Extending medical coverage for mothers to one year postpartum (will go to Finance)

·     Requiring drug settlement funds obtained by the Attorney General to be placed in the Ryan Brown Fund (will go to Finance)

·     Permitting professional boards to approve different continuing education programs on drug diversion

·     Requiring a pharmacist to check the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database prior to dispensing certain drugs

In other business, the committee will receive the Governor’s Substance Use Plan in electronic form on Monday and it will be discussed in the committee two weeks from today. Next week, the committee will take up vaping and tobacco issues.



WV State Firemen’s Association work the halls of government

Members of the West Virginia Firemen’s Association spent the day at the Legislature Thursday.



House Judiciary passes bill to expedite contracting during disasters and makes torture a felony


House Judiciary passed out HB4130 unanimously in an effort to expedite construction and reconstruction projects caused by disasters that must be competitively bid. The specificity required for current competitive bid requirements slow projects down. This bill would allow a more open-ended basis of bidding and applies only to projects that arise out of a declared state of emergency. The bill was recommended by the Joint Committee on Flooding in collaboration with the State Commerce Department, Development Office, Governor’s Office, and others.


HB4119 adds a new section creating the felony crime of torture, defined as the intent to cause cruel or extreme physical or mental pain and suffering or inflicting serious bodily injury or severe mental pain or suffering upon another person within his or her custody or physical control. Counsel described cruel as “brutal, inhuman, sadistic.” Noting that there were no expert witnesses or stakeholders present to testify or answer questions, Chairman Shott said, “Anybody who’s been on this committee for any length of time could possibly testify to the definition of torture.” After a few amendments were adopted to clarify the language, the bill passed.



Senate Government Organization divided, but passes prohibition on cities limiting deadly weapons


A divided Government Organization committee passed SB 96, which would prohibit municipalities from placing limitations on the right to purchase, transfer, possess, sell or carry deadly weapons or pepper spray in any way that conflicts with state laws. The bill would also restrict the award of reasonable attorney costs to petitioners seeking redress under this law, to only those who succeed. A citizen from Kanawha County spoke in favor of the bill.


There was much debate during the committee meeting, some questioning the constitutional consistency of the bill while others argued that it was well within the rights of the state to issue the bill. Though the committee was divided in its support for the bill, the motion was adopted to report the bill to the full Senate for passage.



Health-related bills

Bill removes CON exemption fee, review

Committee Substitute for HB4108 which should be on first reading Friday in the House of Delegates, further weakens the state’s certificate of need program. The statute currently contains 27 services that are exempt from certificate of need. Health care entities must file an exemption application and pay a $1,000 fee. The Health Care Authority (HCA) had 45 days to review the exemption. If the exemption is not reviewed or denied within 45 days, it is considered immediately approved. The bill also removes the $1,000 fee and the ability of the HCA to review the exemption requests.


Bill requires prescription savings to be passed on to consumers 

HB 4062, which requires pharmacy benefit managers to pass along any prescription savings to consumers, will be at amendment stage in the House of Delegates on Friday.


‘Reasonable medical judgment’ bill double-referenced in Senate

When HB 4007 arrived in the Senate, it was assigned to two committees, unlike the single reference in the House. The bill requires a physician use “reasonable medical judgment” to preserve the life and health of a child born alive when a physician performs or attempts to perform an abortion, got to the Senate, it was assigned to two committees, Health and Human Resources and Judiciary.passed the House of Delegates Wednesday on a 93-5 vote.



Medical cannabis bill introduced in the House addresses reciprocity and includes colleges in research


HB4368 was introduced in the House By Del. Higginbotham – The purpose of this bill is to amend certain provisions of the Medical Cannabis Act. The bill adds definitions to “serious medical condition” The bill requires rules promulgated relating to use of edible medical cannabis. It protects patients from another state with medical cannabis in possession from arrest. And the bill clarifies that colleges and private businesses shall be included in medical cannabis research programs. The bill was assigned to Health and Human Resources then Judiciary.




Activity Calendar

Wrapping up this week:

Fri, Jan. 17: WV Physical Therapy Association

Regional Family Resource Network / U. S. Term Limits


The following organizations will have displays at the Capitol or events this week.

Mon, Jan. 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day / Optometry Day / NFIB

Tue, Jan. 21: WVU Day / Motorola

Wed, Jan. 22: Disability Advocacy Day / Disability Advocacy Rally 9:30 a.m. / Antero

Thur, Jan.23: All Kinds Welcome Here / County Commissioners Association /

WV Crime Victims Compensation Fund / Health Smart / WV Chamber Legislative Reception 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Cultural Center

Fri, Jan. 24: WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation



WV Legislature
Legislature Live


Meeting Notices
Proposed Rules


Legislative Wrap-up
Some information in this update is collected from the WV Legislature’s Daily/Weekly Blogs.



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