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News Summary

Bill to cripple local health department powers defeated in committee

Publication Date: 2016-02-23
  • Author:Pamela Pritt
  • Publication:Beckley Register-Herald

A bill backed largely by delegates from counties with or near casinos that would have given county commissioners oversight of all local health department ordinances failed to make it out of the House Committee on Government Organization Monday on a narrow 10-12 vote.

Sponsors of HB4472 complained that local health boards are not elected and therefore not responsive to voters. Elected county commissioners should have the responsibility of health ordinances, they said.

The bill was amended twice. The first amendment would have given commissioners the option to take control of health department ordinances, but the second largely gutted the intent of the bill and grandfathered in all local health ordinances currently in place. Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, said the bill was too broad, and would have opened up all county ordinances dealing with immunizations, restaurant food safety and water and sewage.

Were trying to inject politics into public health, Sponaugle said. There could be some conflict between good politics and good public health. Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, said the bill is really about allowing smoking in casinos...

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