House Passes Bill Transferring Children's Health Insurance Program Operations to DHHR
Since it was created by the legislature in 1998, the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP has covered thousands of children and teens under age 19.
It’s proven to be very popular for the state’s working families. The house considered a senate bill today that would transfer CHIP’s operation from the Department of Administration to the Department of Health and Human Resources. That was one of the bills up for passage today.
Delegate Don Perdue wasn’t too happy with this switch.
“CHIP is the one agency in the healthcare in the state of West Virginia that has performed magnificently, even through some really tough times," Perdue said, "Now I understand that the ACA will reduce, or ostensibly has reduced and will continue to reduce the number of folks who will be eligible for that fund. My fear is, absent of the Supreme Court deciding otherwise, that it could go down, and if it goes down, then CHIP’s going to go back up, and it’s going to be given to an agency that I don’t believe is going to be prepared for that great influx. I think that it’s premature to do this. I’ve always felt it’s premature until we know exactly what’s going to happen in terms of the ACA, so for that reason I oppose this bill.”
Senate Bill 262 passed, however, 62 to 37.
House Bill 2391 was up next. This bill is to reduce the amount of days students in early childhood education programs are required to attend per week. This bill would impose a minimum of four days per week instead of five.
Delegate Amanda Pasdon, the House Education Chair, further explained the bill.
“As a bit of background for this bill, and Senate Bill 359, which we passed in the 2013 session, we mandated five, half-day programs for Pre-K, in many of our counties there are already existing four, full-day programs, so what this bill does is allow flexibility in our counties where they’re already meeting the minimum instructional time minutes, but doesn’t force them to go add an additional day and add the additional cost of a bus route and educators and that kind of thing to their expenses, so this offers some flexibility,” explained Pasdon.
House Bill 2391 passed 99 to 0.
The West Virginia State Police will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019, so delegates unanimously passed House Bill 2523, which creates a special revenue account to pay for the commemoration.
Delegate Bob Ashley says the fund would be made up from merchandise sales, appropriations, and donations.
“The superintendent would be authorized to spend funds to offset costs for the hundredth anniversary, including the purchasing of commemorative merchandise, and items or other activities," Ashley said, "The fund would expire December the 31st, 2019, and any remaining funds would be transferred to the Academy Training Professional Development Fund.”
Delegate Pasdon stood again to explain another bill up for passage; House Bill 2557, creating a Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, also known as “Erin Merryn’s Law.”
“This bill establishes the Task Force on prevention of sexual abuse of children. The Task Force is intended to share ideas, gather information, communicate best practices, and child welfare and advocacy fields, and ultimately to make recommendations to the legislature and governor regarding state policy for decreasing the incidents of child sexual abuse," Pasdon explained, "The membership includes representatives from the education, child advocacy, child protection, law enforcement, and legislative sectors, as well as citizen members. Mr. Speaker, I urge passage of the bill.”
House 2527 passed 99 to 0.
Last on the third reading agenda was House Bill 2777; a bill to update the licensing of barbers, cosmetologists, and hairstylists, as well as revising the membership requirements of the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists.
Delegate Gary Howell, the House Government Organization Chair further explained the bill.
“The bill changes the requirements for memberships on the board to add citizen members representing the general public to improve public safety," Howell explained, "The bill maintains licensure requirements for estheticians, barber, cosmetologists, hair style, and nail technician, and creates certifications for several crossover practices. The bill also exempts shampoo assistants and hair-braiders from licensing. The bill modifies the authority of the board to mandate specific curriculum and hours of study per class but retains the authority to recommend topics of study.”
House Bill 2777 passed 99 to 0.