Legislative Session Begins
With Sweeping Education Reform
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin presented his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the West Virginia Legislature. Highlights of the Governor's speech include:
- Presented a balanced budget, as mandated by the State Constitution, with no new taxes.
- Closed a projected $400 million revenue shortfall by reducing expenses in most state agencies by 7.5 percent and redirecting $135 million in unused monies.
- Citing as "not acceptable" the Governor deplored the state's current poor national rankings in education quality and graduation rates and said "Education in West Virginia must change. And that change begins now." He pledged:
- at the end of third grade, all children will be reading on grade level;
- every new elementary school teacher would be specially trained in reading;
- within three years all counties would offer a full-day 4-year-old preschool program;
- quality vocation education programs that prepare students to meet today's job market must be part of every school's curriculum;
- to change an "inefficient and ineffective" education system by giving the State Board of Education flexibility to oversee professional development delivered at the local level;
- to make schools more accountable, teachers and principals must be given a greater role in selecting their colleagues;
- although seniority must always be an important consideration, seniority should not be the only decisive part of hiring practices in education;
- local boards of education should design school calendars to meet the needs of adequate instructional time.
- There must be continued focus on job creation, lowering the cost of doing business in the state and eliminating inequities in our system.
- A change must be made in the state's Wage Payment law that currently mandates state businesses to pay employees within 72 hours after leaving their jobs, or face strict state fines.
- The state must identify and remediate more possible sites for development.
- A new public non-profit corporation should be formed to identify, promote and oversee programs to foster economic development and environmental remediation.
- Streamline the approval process to allow the Commissioner of Highways more flexibility to enter into public-private partnerships for transportation projects.
- Continue to fight the EPA and its misguided attempts to cripple the coal industry.
“As outlined by the WV Chamber of Commerce”.
Retail Industry Expects Several Major Issues in 2013
Credit Card Surcharges - topping the list of concern is an issue highlighted by WV Senator Truman Chafin this past week. He plans to introduce Credit Card Surcharge legislation that could impact WV retail merchants.WVRA is currently working with other association lobbyists to formulate a media response and legislative strategy.
Pharmacy Practice Act - working group is currently considering Draft # 4 in our goal toward updating pharmacy practice standards in West Virginia.Several NABP model standards are included in the legislation.
Two areas for discussion remain with the physician community:
1) the definition of “Primary Care”
2) Medication Therapy Management (MTM)
KY has a broad definition of “Pharmacy Related Primary Care” that is being considered. MTM is a very important component of this legislation and will require substantial lobbying effort. The group is also considering the definition of Community Pharmacy vs. Retail Pharmacy.
Work on the final draft of the Pharmacy Practice Act will continue into next week.
WV Spirits Council Holds Meeting and Hosts Legislative Reception – On Monday, February 8th the WV Spirits Council will have a meeting to set their Legislative agenda for the session. Later in the evening the WV Spirits Council will host its second Legislative Reception from 7:00p.m. – 8:30p.m. at the Charleston Marriott. The most recent legislative successes of the council include first ever Election Day Sales in WV and the ability to hosting a Sampling Event. Employee required training legislation has already surfaced this year and will be addressed with the Legislature.
Several retail specific issues will be returning once again and will be addressed on an individual basis. Several WV Associations are joining a coalition in support of Governor Tomblin’s Education Reform.The WVRA Executive Committee will consider joining this coalition next week during a conference call.
WVRA Press Release on NPLEx Tracking Gets Statewide Media Coverage
WV Retailers Association: New Anti-Meth Tracking System Already Showing Results
Pseudoephedrine E-Tracking System Launched January 1st
Charleston (WV) — The West Virginia Retailers Association today lauded the state’s successful launch of a new pseudoephedrine (PSE) tracking system known as the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx). The system, which tracks purchases and attempted purchases of cold and allergy medicines containing PSE, was adopted as part of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s 2012 substance abuse legislation. As required under state law, the system became fully operational on January 1st, 2013. NPLEx logs all PSE purchases and links every West Virginia pharmacy to an electronic database that works in real time and across state lines. If an individual buys his maximum quantity of PSE in West Virginia and attempts to buy more in Ohio or Virginia, his attempt will be automatically blocked by the NPLEx system. Currently, 25 states around the country use the powerful technology.
For the retailer, NPLEx works just like a credit card transaction. When a customer wants to buy a particular product containing PSE, a pharmacy tech or pharmacist scans the customer’s driver’s license, and within seconds, the sale is either approved or denied. Before NPLEx, retailers manually recorded all PSE purchases in handwritten logbooks—a cumbersome, inefficient and unreliable system.
For law enforcement officials, NPLEx provides valuable criminal data that is accessible up to the second. Using the system, police officers can see when a suspect attempts to purchase PSE or when one store sells an excessive amount in a short period of time. Law enforcement officials can also receive text message and email alerts when a suspect attempts to purchase PSE. Although NPLEx has only been fully operational since January 1st, West Virginia law enforcement officials are already taking advantage of NPLEx’s many capabilities. According to a recent article in The Inter Mountain, officers in the Randolph County Sheriff’s office consulted NPLEx to gather evidence against four suspects who were arrested for manufacturing meth in an Elkins home.
“The most important thing to remember about West Virginia’s electronic tracking system is it’s brand new to our state,” said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association. “As more retailers and law enforcement officials become familiar and comfortable with the system, I am confident we will begin to see serious results in the battle against meth production in our state.”
“For the men and women in the retail community, West Virginia’s struggle with meth production and abuse is a top concern. We are committed to helping our law enforcement officials and lawmakers implement effective solutions to the problem. The Retailers Association supports NPLEx because it’s a balanced solution to the problem. NPLEx targets meth cooks and dealers, not honest West Virginia consumers. Going forward, it’s critically important for West Virginia leaders to give the system time to work.”
West Virginia Retailers Association