CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's lawmakers have had a busy 46 days in the Legislature, but the 2014 session is beginning to wind down.
Both Democrats and Republicans say they're pleased with how the session has progressed, even though much of the focus has remained on the aftermath of the Jan. 9 chemical spill. Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said despite the focus on the spill and resulting legislation, the House of Delegates has moved forward on a variety of other bills.
"I think there's been a lot of good things happening this session," Poore said. "With the unfortunate chemical spill on January 9, a lot of this session was focused on water protection. I think that's something we need to do.
"A lot of time on both sides have been put into making sure we have a strong piece of legislation that will protect communities from future problems and shed some light on things we need to do in our counties and our cities to make sure we have prevention plans in place for situations just like this, whether it be weather, whether it be chemical or whatever it may be.
"That's where there is a positive from something that affected 300,000 residents in West Virginia."
Although both chambers have worked to push legislation to protect water resources, regulate aboveground storage tanks and help small businesses with economic losses, members have also paid attention to other issues.
"We also have had some things in regard to child abuse and neglect, making sure we protect our children, making sure those cases are looked at with a little bit more scrutiny," Poore said. "I think that's a positive."
In the Senate, members have been working on health and education bills, as well as the Future Fund, which passed Friday. But Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, said many bills are still awaiting action.
"We've discussed a lot of good issues, but there is action that needs to be taken, of course," he said. "We're coming up on the end of the crossover period so I have hopes a lot has been done in the House that will send over to help with the economic shape of our state."
The crossover period is when bills pass out of their houses of origin and "cross over" to the other chamber for consideration. The deadline for bills to cross over is Wednesday. Whatever bills don't cross over are considered dead. That leaves about a week and a half for bills to make it through committee and onto the chamber floor for a vote--meaning lawmakers will be busy.
"It's already started," Poore said. "That's kind of what's expected the last two weeks. You come in and do what you're supposed to do for the people of West Virginia. Yes it will be busy but it will be a lot of hard work fighting for the things that we believe are necessary to move our state forward."
The session ends at midnight March 8.