Senate committee decides to keep paying for meth lab clean-ups

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate Finance Committee restored a provision Monday that would continue to allow property owners to file meth lab clean-up claims with the state Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, said it would be hypocritical for senators to agree not to pay for meth lab clean-up while at the same time believing the prescription-only bill would reduce the number of meth labs in the state.

“I would assume that most committee members here would believe that it’s going to go down and go down substantially,” Barnes said.

Currently the Crime Victims Fund pays up to $10,000 per claim from property owners where meth labs have been located. Many of those claims come from landlords. As much as $700,000 in claims was granted last year. West Virginia is the only state to have such a claim process.

Court of Claims Administrator Cheryl Hall told the committee the fund is taking a hit it can’t afford.

“We’ve had to use our reserve account, which was at six million several years ago, but is now down to two million,” she said.

Despite Hall’s concerns, the finance committee voted to remove language the judiciary committee put in last week.

“Let’s live with it another year, let’s see what happens,” Sen. Barnes said. “There may not be a need for this at all.”

The prescription-only bill, which would require a doctor’s prescription to get cold medicines containing the meth making ingredient pseudoephedrine has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House of Delegates.

The Crime Victims Fund bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.


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