It was a much slower pace around the Capitol during week four of our legislative session.
On Monday our committee considered a bill that would restructure and re-appropriate magistrates throughout West Virginia. Currently there are 158 magistrates in our State. By constitution and code, every county begins with a minimum of two magistrates. Many counties need more than two because of the size of the county and the amount of work that the magistrates are responsible for.
Under the proposed legislation all counties would be appropriated magistrates based on a population formula of ONE magistrate PER 15,500 residents. This bill would cause some counties to lose magistrates based on their current population totals. I have a further concern that this formula does not take into consideration where some population areas might need more magistrates due to increased workloads (increased crime). I will continue to work to ensure this legislation is improved to prevent from harming our courts which would in turn have a negative effect on our citizens.
On Tuesday I hosted a meeting with DHHR Bureau of Social Services and a large group of State Law Makers. The purpose of this meeting was to hear from DHHR Commissioner Jeff Pack about improvements made within the bureau during his first six months of tenure in that position. I am thankful for his hard work and accomplishments already! I believe that the DHHR has much room for improvement in many areas; I will do everything that I can to assist them as they continue to improve.
On Thursday we considered several bills in the Judiciary committee that I am supportive of.
First, we considered HB 4297 which has been drafted to further protect West Virginia senior citizens from elder abuse. To me, this legislation is a “no brainer” and quite frankly I’m surprised that we were not already doing this previously.
Secondly, we considered HB 4032 which increases the penalties to a parent, guardian, or custodian who is found guilty of child abuse. Specifically, the second and subsequent offenses of child abuse have been increased greatly. After having seen several child abuse cases during my time as a police officer I am very supportive of this legislation.
Lastly, we considered HB 2160 which permits for the issuance of a duplicate driver’s license, or an identification card to someone who is homeless. Most places of employment require a photo ID to be hired and employed. The purpose of this legislation is to allow someone who is experiencing homelessness to obtain photo identification so that they can apply for and get a job. I am supportive of the legislation, but I worked hard Thursday to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to confirm the identity of every individual before they are issued any type of state produced photo identification. If we do not have the proper safeguards in place to ensure proper identification this bill could be used in a nefarious manner. With the changes we made, the bill does give the Department of Motor Vehicles the authority to confirm the identification of every person before issuing the ID.
The House and the Senate adjourned Thursday and did not report to the Capitol on Friday because of the expected inclement weather.
It will be nice to have three-day weekend with my family!
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Charleston!
Until next week, keep smiling!
Delegate Jonathan Pinson (R) represents the 13th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates.