WV House of Delegates hosts public hearing - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV House of Delegates hosts public hearing to review water protection bill

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The West Virginia House Health and Human Resources Committee is in the process of reviewing Senate Bill 373, which is aimed at protecting the state's waterways and preventing another chemical spill from happening.

Monday afternoon the committee met to ask questions of local officials. West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre and Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Executive Director Rahul Gupta both spoke during the committee meeting.

Gupta had three suggestions for the committee in regards to the proposed bill. He suggested creating a hazardous chemical prevention plan, establishing a medical monitoring program for all counties and also increasing governmental communication.  

"Public Health and Environmental Protection working together for the state level and local level," he said.  

Delegate Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, said she agreed.

"From what I'm hearing, the public wants to have public health officials involved as well," she said.

Sobonya serves on the House Health and Human Resources Committee as well as the House Judiciary Committee.

After the committee meeting, a public hearing took place in the House Chamber. More than 50 community members signed up to speak and each was allotted two minutes.

"There's 300,000 people that this has affected," said Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha. "We want to hear firsthand from them what we can do to prevent this crisis from happening again."

Beverly Steenstra lives in Charleston and said she has attended every town hall meeting in her community. She said she came to the Capitol to show her support for Senate Bill 373.

"There's no doubt we need the bill," she said. "It needs some tweaking, it needs tighter restrictions."

The bill will need to pass the House Health and Human Resources Committee before it can go to the House Judiciary Committee and finally the House Finance Committee for discussion before it can be voted on by the entire House of Delegates.

The Health and Human Resources Committee will host another meeting to discuss the bill Thursday, Feb. 6.