CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Home of Delegates rapidly handed a state Senate invoice giving extra authority to county commissioners over well being laws, skipping the traditional committee course of.
Senate Invoice 12, regarding native well being division accountability, handed the Home 63-33 after passing the Senate Tuesday.
SB 12 would give county commissioners and metropolis leaders veto energy over guidelines or amendments to guidelines created by native boards of well being besides cases of well being emergencies.
The invoice additionally places all native well being departments underneath the authority of the state well being officer within the occasion of a declared statewide well being emergency. The invoice applies to particular person county and metropolis well being departments in addition to joint well being departments between a couple of county or county and metropolis joint well being departments.
As an alternative of referring the invoice to the Home Well being and Human Assets Committee, the committee supplied an modification to SB 12 changing a part of the invoice with a Home model that was already pending a vote. The modification permits a county or metropolis official to stay a voting member of a board of well being. The unique Senate model made these positions ex officio and non-voting.
The Home modification to SB 12 creates an attraction course of for well being division choices and penalties and provides county and metropolis governments 30 days to approve or reject guidelines made by well being boards throughout states of emergency. The Senate model gave county and metropolis governments quick say over emergency guidelines.
Talking towards the invoice, Del. Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, mentioned her county commissioners had been towards the invoice. Zukoff mentioned commissioners are involved about legal responsibility for overruling well being division choices.
“I believe that is actually a nasty invoice. I believe it’s going to unintentionally hurt a few of our counties and create legal responsibility points,” Zukoff mentioned. “I believe that we have to give these native boards native autonomy like they at all times have. There haven’t been any points relating to that, even inside the pandemic. I believe we’re asking our county commissioners to tackle an undue burden that they’re fairly merely not skilled with.”
Del. Tom Quick, R-Fayette, mentioned the code already offers legal responsibility protections for choices made by county commissioners. Quick likened the invoice to the identical authority the Legislature has to approve guidelines developed by state companies.
“We cross and we vote and we deliberate on guidelines,” Quick mentioned. “The county fee can do the identical factor. They will query … the well being division in regards to the rule. They will name specialists identical to we will, they usually can educate themselves. After which they will make their determination whether or not to approve, disapprove or amend that rule.”
The invoice is opposed by teams representing county commissioners, native well being departments, and public well being advocates.
Usually despatched to Home committees for approval earlier than hitting the Home ground, the Home distributed with referring the invoice to a committee to get the invoice on the ground faster and on third studying Friday. If the Senate approves of the Home’s adjustments to the invoice, it’ll go to the desk of Gov. Jim Justice to both signal or veto.
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