CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill pending in the Senate Finance Committee, with less than two weeks left in the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, would end reimbursements for meth lab cleanups through the West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund.
It’s a change to the current law that Senator Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 4) said makes sense. “West Virginia was the only state in the nation that, within the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, would pay $10,000 to a landlord for any meth lab cleanup expenses….that occurred within their property,” he said.
“In a limited fund, should we really be taking money that was otherwise meant for victims of crime that were uncompensated and diverting that to give to a landlord to clean up their property for, in my opinion, a duty they should have had anyhow?”
State officials have said the state paid more than $700,000 for meth lab claims just last year through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund and, unlike when payments are made to other crime victims, the federal government does not reimburse the state for meth lab cleanups. The federal reimbursement rate is 60 cents for every dollar spent.
Most homeowner insurance policies do not pay meth lab claims because there are exclusions, in many policies, for chemical contaminations.
Last week, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the change to the bill that, overall, deals with how victims of all crimes are compensated.
The 2014 Regular Legislative Session will end on Saturday, March 8. To stay alive, SB 204 would have to advance to the House by Wednesday — the deadline for bills to move out of the chambers where they were introduced.