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The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill passed the meth bill out of committee last night, but made some changes first. The Senate had passed a measure requiring prescriptions for products containing pseudoephedrine, and the House Judiciary changed the bill so that those who have been convicted of a drug related felony would have to get a prescription for those cold medicines, the rest of the public would not. An amendment was also passed that would lower the overall amount of pseudoephedrine you can buy each year. The bill now goes back to the Senate.
The House Education Committee has voted to increase pay for West Virginia teachers and service personnel significantly. The amended bill increases teacher salaries $6,000 across-the-board over three years. Pay would increase $1,000 the first year, $2,000 the next, and $3,000 the third. As the bill stands, service personnel would see a $3,000 raise over three years. The bill was introduced by Delegate David Walker after he expressed concern over a proposal to give teachers a $1,500 raise. He said not including service personnel beyond the already allotted 2 percent was discriminatory. When the Senate voted on the bill last week, it granted teachers an $834 raise. Several members spoke out in opposition to the bill, calling it fiscally irresponsible. The bill will go to House Finance Committee now.
West Virginia University's Board of Governors has acted on a recommendation that came Friday from the presidential search committee, to hire E. Gordon Gee as the university's president. The board endorsed the recommendation, which means Gee becomes the next president after serving as interim president once the decision is approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says from midnight to 5am Monday there were 41 accidents reported. Of those, 14 involved injuries.. At the beginning of the storm on Sunday, there were fewer accidents that there had been with other storms, but deputies attribute the lower totals to fewer travelers on the roads, heeding the advice of transportation officials.
Civic Center renovations were a big topic of discussion at Monday night's city council meeting in Charleston. The firm O'Dell Associates was hired for design consulting services, which means they'll help the city council find the construction company that will perform the renovation work. $50 million has been budgeted for the project.
Representatives from the West Virginia State Police, the American Red Cross, the National Guard, and other agencies have set up a space beneath the Capitol to stay updated on the weatehr. The Emergency Operations Center opened Sunday, and they'll decide about road closures and possible shelters with the snow this morning.
The pharmaceutical industry is mounting a media blitz against a West Virginia bill requiring prescriptions for cold medicines. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association argues customers would face higher costs and have less purchasing freedom. The group paid for Internet and radio ads and a study. The pseudoephedrine bill passed the Senate, but has a tough road in the House of Delegates. It has until March 8 to pass the Judiciary Committee and the House. Judiciary Chairman Tim Manchin said there is opposition to the bill on his panel.
With the storm that continues this morning, the National Weather Service says ice accumulations of 0.25 to 0.5 inches and 4 to 8 inches of snow are expected. A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the entire state. Snow accumulations are a concern today, mainly because the ice came first and that's coating the roads underneath the snow. The National Weather Service says parts of the Eastern Panhandle could see up to a foot of snow. Up to six to eight inches of snow is expected in other parts of the state. Appalachian Power says it's moving crews into areas of the state that are expected to be hit the hardest.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller is still skeptical about safety of drinking water for 300,000 Charleston-area residents. At an appearance Friday in Charleston, Rockefeller said he would not drink tap water when he is visiting the capital city, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. Health officials said the water was safe to use more than a month ago, but Governor Tomblin kept the emergency declaration in force partially because of lingering odor from some taps and showers. The emergency declaration has since been lifted.
A West Virginia legislative chairman says many of his committee members are leaning against making a cold medicine used to cook meth available by prescription only. House of Delegates Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Manchin says a bill to make pseudoephedrine prescription only will come up Monday or Tuesday. Manchin said there's a fair amount of opposition in his committee. The proposal excludes certain drugs deemed tamper-resistant. Manchin said other options exist if the committee won't pass that version. One would further limit how much pseudoephedrine someone can buy annually. The Senate approved the proposal Feb. 18, and there's one week left in the legislative session.