House Looks to Tackle 3 Social Issues in 2016

Jan 18, 2016

Republican Delegate Chris Stansbury of Kanawha County.
Credit Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia families have been struggling with issues like substance abuse and poverty for decades.

This year, lawmakers are taking a hard look at ways they can combat these issues, and members of the House of Delegates are wasting no time at all.

  • House Bill 4021 - SNAP Benefits

This bill would require adults without dependents be employed or in a work program for at least 20 hours a week to continue to be eligible for SNAP benefits. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The bill would not affect seniors, people with disabilities, or those going to school.

“Right now the state’s in a money crunch," said Democratic Delegate Patsy Trecost of Harrison County, "we need all hands on deck, we know by putting people back to work, or asking people to go to work, even if it’s just twenty hours a week, that’s gonna generate revenue for them, it’s gonna generate spending dollars, and essentially help the economy.”

Trecost is the lead sponsor of the bill and says House Bill 4021 is mainly trying to encourage West Virginians to get back to work.

  • House Bill 4010 - TANF Drug Screening

This bill would require drug screening and testing of applicants for TANF, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

TANF offers temporary assistance to low-income families with the hope of making them more self-sufficient, but the bill would require those recipients to be drug tested before receiving their benefits.

If a recipient tests positive for a drug they don’t have a prescription for, he or she would then be required to go through a substance abuse treatment program to continue to receiving assistance. Children of those parents’ who test positive will not lose their benefits.

  • House Bill 4044 - Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund

This bills would create the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund Act. The fund would provide money for drug addiction prevention and treatment not otherwise covered by legislative appropriations, Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.

“The Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund is designed to help those that don’t have any other means of payment," said the bill's lead sponsor, Republican Delegate Chris Stansbury of Kanawha County, "so they don’t qualify for Medicaid or they’re kind of in process waiting for that Medicaid to come through, or they don’t qualify for any other types of grants, public insurance, private insurance; anything like that, so it’s going to be a payer to help them get into recovery.”

Stansbury says he also hopes this bill will help decrease wait times for treatment by helping to fund new facilities.