CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates spent nearly four hours debating the meth bill during the last two days of the 60-day legislative session but in the end the bill died without a final vote.
Supporters of the legislation said making certain cold medicines more difficult to obtain would cut down on the making of meth in dangerous meth labs in parts of West Virginia. The prescription only idea was taken out in the House after being passed in the Senate but the House added a measure that would allow counties to have elections on the prescription-only issue.
The bill (SB 6) went to conference committee Saturday night and Del. Don Perdue said there was an agreement but it could not get to the members by the 9 p.m. deadline.
“At one point we thought we were very close but unfortunately ran out of time,” Perdue told MetroNews.
The delegate added the drug industry won the day.
“They did it on the strength on basically frightening West Virginians and frightening legislators,” he said.
The meth bill wasn’t the only bill to die Saturday night. The bill that would have opened the door for a pay raise for county elected officials for the first time in eight years failed after the Senate refused to agree with the House changes to the bill (SB 379). It was too late for the bill to go to a conference committee.
A bill that would change the way millions of dollars of excess lottery funds are allocated also died Saturday night. Senators passed the bill (HB 4333) with less than 15 minutes left in the session but the House never took it up.
The House spent more than two hours Friday amending the meth bill and almost that long Saturday discussing it before taking a vote and sending it to the Senate.
Del. John Shott supported the county referendum option.
“Implicit in the idea that one size doesn’t fit all is the idea that the people closest to the problem should the ability to form the solution,” Shott said.
Supporters want pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in making meth and found in cold medicines like Sudafed and Claritin D, more difficult to purchase.
Pendleton County Del. Isaac Sponaugle warned the bill had flaws.
“If you vote yes on this you better be able to go back home and explain on what you voted for because I don’t think everybody here has a good understanding of it,” Sponaugle said.
Del. Perdue predicts now that the bill didn’t pass the meth lab problem would continue to spread to other counties.
“Just this last week there was a report of a meth lab in Morgan County, it’s first and a report in Preston County, it’s first. The fire was lit a good while back and it’s burning slowly and it will continue to burn,” Perdue said.