CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates took a step Friday to make West Virginia a better place for pets. It passed HB 2185 96-0 on Friday, Jan. 18, and sent it to the Senate.

“We have the opportunity today to start the day on a compassionate foot,” said Judiciary vice-chair Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, who explained the bill.

HB 2185 deals with rescuing animals left confined and unattended in vehicles, where they face injury or death due to extreme heat or cold or insufficient ventilation. This bill names four “agents” acting in their official capacity who may be summoned to break into the vehicle: emergency medical service personnel, humane officers, law enforcement officers and firefighters.

Additional provisions protect a cattle rancher from losing his herd if he’s convicted of leaving his dog in his truck, and allow low-income people who can’t afford to immediately pay the fines in the bill to make payment arrangements so that they can retrieve their animal.

Jail bail bill

A bill to help ease regional jail overcrowding was on second reading and members approved a tweaked version of an amendment to it that had failed in Judiciary.

HB 2190 sets conditions under which a county magistrate must release a defendant under personal recognizance.

The bill requires that except for good cause shown, a magistrate must release a defendant on personal recognizance. The exceptions are for misdemeanors involving actual violence or threat of violence, victims who are minors, a deadly weapon, controlled substances and serious traffic offenses.

Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh and a former prosecutor, offered the amendment. It says that within 10 days of the setting of bond or bail, a prosecuting attorney may bring a motion to set cash or surety bond. The presiding court shall then hold a summary hearing upon the motion within five days.

Steele said that here will be situations where the magistrate and the arresting officer know nothing about the defendant, who may be a repeat offender or a risk of jumping bail.

His failed Judiciary amendment set the initial period at 15 days.

Judiciary chair John Shott, R-Mercer, told members this is his bill and he saw no harm to it with the amendment. It passed on a voice vote.

HB 2190 is on third reading for passage on Monday.

 

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