Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer is a dynamic, creative advocate for women, veterans, children, families, the environment and small businesses. One of the hardest working Delegates, she has been a Legislator longer than any other woman currently serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Delegate Fleischauer has managed to pass policy initiatives that have resulted in significant improvements in the lives of West Virginians. In contrast to the gridlock that has occurred in Congress, a remarkably long list of bills sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer have become state law.
A brief descriptions of Delegate Fleischauer’s legislative successes in several areas appears below. Copies of bills can be retrieved from the Legislature’s website, www.legis.state.wv.us by clicking onto bill status and then typing in the bill number in the box. You will need to be sure to have the correct year - go to the upper right corner of the bill status page, type the year in the box, and be sure to click on submit.
Delegate Fleischauer always welcomes ideas for new legislation that would make West Virginia safer, healthier, more prosperous and fair.
Equal Pay - The Equal Pay for Equal Work for State Employees Act, drafted by Delegate Fleischauer (HB 2211) and passed as SB 31 in 1998 established the Equal Pay Commission. The Commission was assigned the task of studying and making recommendations to remedy pay inequities in state employment, reviewing in particular the wage rates for occupational classifications dominated by one sex or the other. Additionally, the Commission makes recommendations regarding providing funding in the Budget to remedy pay inequities. Delegate Fleischauer served as House Co-Chair of the Commission until 2005. Under her leadership, the Commission hired consultants who found significant disparities and made recommendations on needed changes. Funding has been placed in the Budget nearly every year since 2002 to address the disparities. As a result, state employees, 80 percent of whom are women in undervalued job classifications, have received over five million dollars in permanent raises. Delegate Fleischauer continues to serve on the Commission and continues to work toward achieving pay equity for state employees.
Domestic Violence - Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the landmark Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Act of 1998, which set up new requirements for continuing education for the many professionals dealing with domestic violence cases. HB 2817 provided new authority for Judges issuing protective orders to require safety plans for victims and battering counseling for perpetrators. Delegate Fleischauer also spearheaded successful efforts over many years to dramatically increase funding for shelters and legal services for domestic violence victims.
Human Trafficking - In 2012, West Virginia became one of the last states to adopt a statute outlawing human trafficking. Delegate Fleischauer was one of the sponsors of HB 4053. In 2013, she was the lead sponsor of a bill adding additional protections to our human trafficking law (HB 2814). Passage of both the 2012 and 2013 legislation resulted in the State of West Virginia jumping ahead in comparative ratings of state human trafficking legislation. The 2013 bill provides victims with three new forms of assistance: 1) eligibility for assistance under the crime victims compensation act, 2) the ability to seek damages from traffickers, and 3) expungement of criminal convictions (such as prostitution). In 2015, Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 2161, which passed both Houses, but was vetoed by the Governor on technical grounds. This bill, which adopts the Uniform Act on Prevention and Remedies for Human Trafficking, includes several important reforms; among other things, it is intended to provide services for victims to aid their transition into normal society. Delegate Fleischauer plans to re-introduce it and is hoping for passage during the 2016 session.
Speedier Forensic Rape Exams - Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 4236 in 2014, which passed following several years of negotiations with stake-holders. The bill sets up a statewide system to expedite forensic examinations of sexual assault victims. Some women had to travel to other counties (almost always at night) and wait many, many hours before being provided with a proper examination to collect evidence of a rape. The mechanisms in the bill are intended to ensure that health care providers are properly trained and on staff in all regions of the state. Although it was vetoed by the Governor because of a technical flaw, the Governor re-introduced a corrected version, which passed as HB 108 during the first special session immediately following the regular session in 2014.
Providing Pay and Gender Information to Job Seekers - Passed in 2014, and sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer, HB 4196 requires local Workforce Force Investment Boards to provide information to job seekers about compensation for jobs and careers that offer high earning potential including jobs that are traditionally dominated by men or women. also requires women and men to be encouraged to apply for such jobs, and includes a requirement that job applicants be provided information regarding the long-term consequences, including lower social security benefits or pensions, of choosing jobs that offer lower earnings potential and are traditionally dominated by women or men.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act - Employers in West Virginia must now offer reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees to enable them to continue working. HB 4284, passed in 2014, includes remedies and enforcement procedures if women believe they were discriminated against by not being offered appropriate accommodations at work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Delegate Fleischauer was among the bill’s sponsors.
FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S ISSUES
Autism - In 2011 (HB 2693) and 2012 (HB 4260), Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of autism legislation that increased funding and insurance coverage for children with autism spectrum disorder. Six million dollars was added to the state budget to cover increased costs in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Public Employees Insurance (PEIA). These programs and most private insurance companies operating in West Virginia are now required to provide coverage for behavioral therapy - up to $30,000 per year for the first three years, and up to $24,000 thereafter. This coverage is available under these insurance plans to children with autism from the date of diagnosis to age 18, so long as a physician certifies that the treatment is medically necessary. With intensive early treatment, most children with autism can become productive members of society. This was a huge heart-warming win for children and families.
Caring for Disabled Residents in their Homes - The Ken Ervin Health Maintenance Act (HB 2731), passed in 2013, allows trained personnel to perform tasks such as tube feedings and ostomy care in people’s homes. It is named after Ken Ervin, an ardent disability activist and Morgantown resident who died unexpectedly in 2007. At the bill signing for HB 2731, the Governor was given a ruby slipper pin as a reminder that for the disabled, just like everyone else, “there’s no place like home.” Delegate Fleischauer originally sponsored the bill to help two young men from North Central West Virginia who need ventilators to survive. They lost Medicaid coverage for nursing care when they turned 21. Their families valiantly tried to provide them with 24-hour care at home.
In 2014, Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 4287. This bill expanded the health maintenance tasks that could be provided in homes by trained personnel, supervised by licensed health care providers, to include ventilator and respirator patients. Now those families who lost nursing care after age 21 will at least have access to other trained personnel to assist with health maintenance tasks.
Adoption - Delegate Fleischauer served as House Chair of an interim subcommittee which completely overhauled state statutes relating to adoption. Our Code now makes it easier for adopting parents to obtain a final adoption decision in a shorter period of time. The Code also ensures that the Constitutional rights of birth parents, both fathers and mothers, were properly respected. Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the House version (HB 2081); the Senate version passed in 1997 (SB 61).
Teen Court - In 1996, Delegate Fleischauer was a co-sponsor of the first Teen Court bill, HB 4716. Teen Court is a part of a national effort to reduce recidivism among students accused of lower level disciplinary offenses by using local programs which put on a peer trial using peer judging. She later sponsored legislation that helped formalized teen court procedures and devised a revenue source for county teen court programs. For example, she was a sponsor of HB 4561, which passed in its Senate form as SB 725 1998, and was the lead sponsor of HB 4631, which passed in 2000 in its Senate version, SB 388.
Child Advocacy Centers - Through her leadership on the Joint House and Senate Juvenile Task Force, which she chaired in the House for several years, in 2004 CACs became an official part of the multi-disciplinary investigative teams through passage of HB 4649, which she co-sponsored. CACs provide a child-focused, multidisciplinary response to child abuse. Established to prevent the re-victimization of sexually abused children by the system (some child victims in West Virginia were interviewed over 15 times), multidisciplinary teams aim for one interview with a potential child victim of sexual abuse. The child is interviewed by a forensic specialist. Behind a two-way mirror, representatives of law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, medical, and family members may participate in the interview. Delegate Fleischauer helped establish the Monongalia County CAC, which recently celebrated its 10th year of operation.
CASA - Delegate Fleischauer was an early supporter of CASA programs in Monongalia County and statewide. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained citizen appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. All children assigned CASA advocates are victims of abuse and neglect, and have been removed from their homes. CASA volunteers research the child’s circumstances, determine relevant facts in a child’s case and provide independent objective information to the court. Unlike a social worker with a heavy case load, a CASA volunteer works with only one child or 2-3 siblings at a time. In an overburdened child welfare system, CASA volunteers make sure that children do not get lost in the system. Delegate Fleischauer’s HB 4649, passed in 2004, made CASA volunteers official members of each county’s multi-disciplinary team, which makes recommendations to the court whether or not a child should be reunified with his or her biological parents, placed in foster care, or be available for adoption with another family.
Child Abuse - For several years, Delegate Fleischauer worked on creating a new misdemeanor offense for child abuse. HB 4005, which she co-sponsored, was in part a response to the death in Pennsylvania of “Baby Madison Dotson” who died in Pennsylvania, after her parents had been reported to WV child welfare officials. The thinking behind the statute was that having a lower level offense would allow prosecutors to intervene earlier and perhaps prevent the injury or death of an endangered child.
Child Pornography - In 2014, Delegate Fleischauer was a member of a committee of all of the female members of the House looking into crimes against children. HB 4006, which she sponsored, provided new offenses, increased fine and jail time and new definitions for crimes relating to offenders viewing large and sometimes massive numbers of pictures of child pornography.
Child’s Right to Nurse - This 2014 bill banned discrimination against mothers who nurse their babies in public places. The Senate passed this bill without difficulty in 2013 and 2014, but it hit several snags in the House. Delegate Fleischauer, who was a sponsor, helped craft amendments that led to the eventual passage of HB 4335. Serving on the two major committees to which the bill was assigned, Health and Human Resources and Judiciary, Delegate Fleischauer helped shepherd the bill so that West Virginia could become the 45th state to ban such discrimination.
WV CARES - The 2015 West Virginia Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act, HB 2001 ensures that patients can appoint a person they trust to be informed about the care they need upon discharge from a hospital, nursing home or other health care facility. Health care facilities are now required to record the name of a caregiver chosen by the patient, inform the caregiver when the patient is going to be discharged and educate the caregiver about the tasks that need to be performed in the home, such as medicine administration or wound care, so that the patient can recover. Delegate Fleischaeur was a co-sponsor.
MAKING WEST VIRGINIA MORE VETERAN FRIENDLY
For several years, Delegate Fleischauer served as Co-Chair of the Select Joint Interim Committee on Veterans Affairs. In between the yearly 60-day sessions, the Legislature holds interim meetings for three days each month to study problems and make recommendations for future legislation. The Committee’s initial focus was on veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. When service members return to normal civilian life, the goal has been to ensure that our state does everything possible to ease the transition for them and for their families.
In 2007, the committee commissioned a survey led by West Virginia University researchers of all recent West Virginia veterans and service members who had applied for our state's veteran's bonus. The West Virginia Legislature was the only Legislature in the country to conduct such an extensive survey.
Over 1,000 West Virginia replied. The committee’s report, issued in 2008, gave a more complete picture of the difficulties veterans were experiencing, including higher rates of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than national estimates. The survey indicated that symptoms of depression and/or PTSD were experienced by nearly 48 percent of those who responded.
The Select Committee commissioned a second survey five years later, and a second report was issued. For the second survey, responses were sought from veterans of all ages who had served at any time. West Virginia service members and veterans aged 19-94 responded, resulting in the retrieval of twelve million points of data. The most critical finding was that about 20 percent of the surveyed veterans were at a clinically significant risk of suicide. In addition, a surprising number of veterans indicating they had experienced homelessness during periods of their lives, and female veterans with children reported they had been homeless at a higher rate.
There were also positive findings. For example, the majority of service members or veterans reported that they had adjusted well and were satisfied with their lives. Once again, no other state Legislature has conducted such an extensive survey of veterans and service members from all eras and campaigns.
As a result of the data collected during these surveys, Delegate Fleischauer passed legislation or helped secure funding for several programs that expanded education, employment, medical and mental health benefits, as well as other services for active members of the military or veterans of our state.
Higher Education Policies - HB 4145, passed in 2010, includes extensive requirements for all state colleges and universities to become more "veteran friendly." Included among the mandatory assignments were the following: coordinating college disability services with those provided by the federal veterans administration, establishing a system to award of academic credit for military training and experience, providing counselors trained to respond to the unique needs of veterans, and appointing and training faculty members in each program or major so serve as liaisons to veteran students, etc. When passed, this legislation was the most progressive in the entire country.
In 2013, Delegate Fleischauer worked with WVU’s student veterans to achieve passage of HB 2490 and HB 2491. Because of 2491, our Code now requires the appointment of Veterans Advocates at all state institutions of higher education. This bill also sets out requirements for schools to provide greater assistance to incoming veterans at colleges and universities so that they can make the most of their GI bill and Yellow Ribbon (a federal higher education assistance bill for veterans) benefits. Because of filing deadlines and other issues, some students received funding late and had difficulties with rent and tuition payments. HB 2491 established a uniform course completion policy for veteran students called up to active duty. The goal is to ensure that college students suddenly called up for a military drill during a semester are not penalized for their military service.
Professional Licenses and Certifications - HB 4037, passed in 2012, directs state licensing boards to consider how they can harmonize statutory requirements with the skills and experience service members receive in the military. With the high unemployment rates for veterans and their spouses, it is important that licensing boards were given the authority to allow extensions or waivers of requirements to remove artificial barriers and minimize burdensome rules.
Also passed in 2012, HB 4007 protects spouses of active military who accompany their spouse when he or she has been assigned to duty out of state. Normally, when a person quits a job for any reason, he or she is disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation. Under this new law, if a spouse has to quit a job when the family moves because of a military assignment, the spouse now becomes eligible to receive unemployment compensation from West Virginia.
Military Families - In 2011, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored HB 2550, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children Act. This bill is intended to promote smoother transitions for children in schools when military families move from state to state or out of the country. Passage of this bill is intended to ease the transfer of children’s credits and school records. Students and parents of military families should not be penalized by having to jump through inordinate hoops because they are serving our country.
Protection of Parental and Marital Rights - HB 2694, passed in 2009, provides uniform procedures to ensure that service member’s parental or marital rights are not negatively affected when he or she is assigned to an area away from home. Topics covered in the bill, which Delegate Fleischauer sponsored, include rules for making sure that members of the military have proper notice of the filing of various custody or divorce documents during military service or deployments, and that they can participate or have a delay in hearings involving modifications of custodial rights, child support and parenting plans while they are on active duty.
Veteran Friendly Communities - HB 2534 in 2011, drafted by Delegate Fleischauer, sets up a statewide program to promote veteran friendly communities. Key provisions of HB 2534 were amended into a bill proposed by the Governor, SB 238, which created a cabinet-level position for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
State Medals for Combat Veterans - Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 4350 in 2014. This bill provided for the awarding of a West Virginia veterans service decoration, and a West Virginia Service Cross and ribbon for veterans service in armed conflict in the West Virginia National Guard or one of the five federally recognized military services. The program is to be administered by the National Guard, but unfortunately, funding for the medals was vetoed. Delegate Fleischauer has been speaking with the Governor’s office to get the program started at least.
Continuing Education Requirements for Health Care Providers - Passed in 2014 HB 4318 requires continuing education for a diverse group of health care providers on issues that are common to veterans, including depression, PTSD, suicide and grief. Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor and developed the legislation as Co-Chair of the Interim Committee on Veterans. The listed professionals are now required to be trained to ask whether patients are veterans or related to veterans, and to receive training on how to screen all patients for depression, PTSD, suicide and grief.
CONSUMER, EMPLOYMENT AND CIVIL RIGHTS
Forced Sterilizations - West Virginia, like most other states, had a law which provided a procedure to take away the right to become parents of citizens who were deemed mentally unfit. Forced sterilization laws are now considered crimes against humanity. In 2013, Delegate Fleischauer was proud to be a sponsor of HB 2463, which removed these procedures from our state law.
Privacy Rights - Responding to a local issue in which an employer had a hidden camera in a locker room, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored and passed HB 2985 in 1999. Our Code now bans electronic surveillance of employees in locker and lunch rooms.
Generic Drug Savings - Since 1978, our state has required pharmacies to always offer consumers generic drugs and to pass on the savings between the generic drug and the brand name drug to the consumer. Pharmacies in our state were sued when several companies began keeping a portion of the savings. Delegate Fleischauer successfully fought off attempts to legalize this practice in 2009 (HB 2513) and 2011 (HB 3828).
Maternity Coverage – For years, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored legislation to close an insurance loophole that allowed the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) and some private insurers to avoid paying for maternity care and contraception for dependents (HB 2185). Passage of the Senate version,
SB 22 in 2013, closed half the loophole, so now maternity care for dependents must be covered, just like other medically necessary healthcare. However, there was still an exception that allowed insurance companies to avoid paying for contraception for minor dependents. Delegate Fleischauer will keep working to end this discriminatory practice until the problem is fixed.
Seat Belts - HB 2108, passed in 2013, may be considered a health care bill since it will save lives – an estimated 14 per year in West Virginia. After July 1, 2013, failure to wear a seat belt will became a primary offense. Delegate Fleischauer was proud to be the lead sponsor on this bill. It is estimated that primary enforcement of the seat belt law in our state will result in a 6 percent increased use of seat belts, 146 fewer serious accidents and 32 million dollars in cost savings to taxpayers.
Epinephrine Pen Bill - As a result of passage of HB 2729 in 2013, sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer and passed in 2013, trained school staff, supervised by school nurses, will be able to administer epinephrine in cases of severe allergic reactions. Deaths of children in other states prompted similar legislation and thanks to Mylan, an international pharmaceutical company which started in Morgantown, over 20,000 EpiPens (™) will be distributed to schools in West Virginia at no charge.
Indoor Tanning - According to the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC), people who begin tanning younger than age 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma. Prior to adoption of SB 464, West Virginia had no regulation of the tanning bed industry. Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the House companion bill, HB 2738 in 2013. Passage of SB 464 means local public health departments can conduct inspections, tanning bed facilities will be required to check for proof of age and customers must sign consent forms warning them of the risks of using tanning beds. The final version of the bill banned indoor tanning by children under age 14. Because of the high risk of cancer to children, Delegate Fleischauer intends to continue to work on this issue until children under 18 are prohibited from using tanning beds.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis - In 1995, women Legislators asked the Bureau for Public Health to study the cost to the state of injuries resulting from osteoporosis. The Bureau issued a report estimating the expense to the state of osteoporotic fractures to be in the range of $46 million per year. As a result of this data, Delegate Fleischauer became a co-sponsor of HB 4198, the Osteoporosis Treatment and Prevention Education Act, which began state planning and provided funding in the budget for programs to reduce the incidence of this disease, which at the time was not well known. A similar program was established by a bill she authored in 2006 to deal with arthritis, another painful, crippling disease that affects women more often than men. (HB 4685)
Oral Health - Delegate Fleischauer championed the need for improving our state's oral health by sponsoring and passing HB 3107 in 2002. The bill established an office of Oral Health with a Director, who must be a dentist, and sets forth duties, which include adopting a comprehensive plan to improve dental care in the state, setting standards for oral cancer screening, educating the public and working with other health professionals to prevent oral diseases.
Alternative Health Care - Having benefitted from care from alternative health care providers, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored and passed legislation that for the first time regulated the acupuncture profession (HB 4200 in 1996) and the massage therapy profession (HB 2609 in 1997 and HB 4305 in 1998) to ensure the safety of the public.
Eyewitness ID - Innocent people have been convicted of crimes they did not commit because of insufficient protections used to verify eyewitness identifications. The WVU College of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic prepared draft legislation that Delegate Fleischauer sponsored in 2013. Passage of SB 200 (the House version was HB 2758) will require law enforcement agencies to establish fair procedures for line-ups and witness identification.
Public Financing of Supreme Court Elections – West Virginia has a notorious elections history. In a recent example, a coal baron sank millions into a fake group called “and for the sake of the kids” to elect his preferred Supreme Court candidate. In 2010, Delegate Fleischauer worked to enact legislation setting up a pilot project to provide public funding for candidates for the Supreme Court. Public financing first became available to Supreme Court candidates in the 2012 election. Delegate Fleischauer sponsored HB 2805, which passed in 2013, and made the program permanent.
Funding for Legal Aid - Low income people at risk of being evicted or who are domestic violence victims need legal help to become safe and secure in their homes. Over the years, Legal Aid has been there to protect their rights. Unfortunately, federal funding for Legal Aid has been dramatically cut back, forcing decreases in the number of legal aid attorneys in our state (from a high of 80 down to 48). Delegate Fleischauer sponsored HB 2776 in 2013, which increased various fees to restore the lost funding, but it was tabled on third reading because of budget worries. When SB 426 was placed on the House Judiciary agenda, she saw an opportunity to amend in some fee increases that would produce a healthy, but smaller amount of funding. As a result of Delegate Fleischauer’s amendment, Legal Aid of West Virginia now receives an approximately $200,000 more every year in state funds.
Modern Procedures for Corporations - Delegate Fleischauer served as House Chair of an Interim Judiciary subcommittee that worked on reform of statutes which regulate corporations. One of her friends and supporters, WVU College of Law Professor Ann Maxey, had worked for several years on a draft of the re-write, which streamlined and modernized procedures for both profit and non-profit corporations. Unfortunately, Professor Maxey died suddenly of a brain tumor in 2002. Delegate Fleischauer was able to successfully steer passage of Professor Maxey's efforts by sponsoring and passing corporate overhaul legislation in 2003 (HB 3108).
Municipal Voting by Mail - At the request of the Morgantown City Council, local Delegates, with Delegate Fleischauer as lead sponsor, passed HB 3134 in 2009. The bill set up a pilot projects for cities to conduct election by mail. The City of Morgantown conducted one election by mail, which resulted in a dramatic increase in voter turnout.
PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Often, the most important contribution a Legislator can make is to work for the defeat of a bad bill or attempt to minimize the harm it might case. This seems to be particularly true when it comes to bills relating to the environment.
Dirty Secrets Bill - Delegate Fleischauer helped defeat HB 2154 in 1997, which would have allowed corporations to refuse to disclose any information about investigations of environmental accidents. If it had passed, an environmental audit privilege would have been created, whereby compliance with environmental laws would be determined not by an objective investigation by a state agency, but rather by an internal corporation investigation, the results of which would not have to be disclosed to the public. Such investigative reports must continue to be made available to the public because the bill did not pass.
Defeat of Utility Deregulation - Fearing the potential for dramatic increases in consumer utility prices (which happened in other states), Delegate Fleischauer played an important role in the successful effort to derail proposed electric utility deregulation in 1998 (HB 4277). Although legislation giving the Public Service Commission jurisdiction to establish a deregulation plan was passed, it gave the Legislature veto power over any such plan. The Public Service Commission has never submitted a deregulation plan to the Legislature for approval, presumably because of the fallout from the Enron scandal, which occurred shortly after passage of the revised bill.
Marcellus Shale Regulation - As one of the ten members of the Select Joint Interim Committee on Marcellus Shale Regulation, Delegate Fleischauer listened to hundreds testify at public hearings in Wheeling, Morgantown, and Clarksburg and helped hammer out 25 amendments to the bill passed by the Senate in 2010. The final version of the Marcellus Shale Regulation bill, HB 401, passed during the 4th Special Session of the Legislature in December 2011. The bill included many positive changes, such as funding for additional inspectors, and it required studies to determine acceptable levels for air and noise pollution near residences. However, many important protections were watered down. Marcellus shale regulation remains a work in progress – there are still not enough inspectors or funding for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), penalties are weak, and issues relating to waste storage, public health, safety and the rights of landowners need further regulation.
Energy Savings Legislation - Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 4028, which passed in 2008. This legislation authorized counties and municipalities to enter into contracts over a period of several years for the purpose of saving energy costs. Allowing this particular type of longer term contract has resulted in millions of dollars in savings to local governments, which have changed lighting, increased insulation, etc. The Governor's Renewable and Alternative Energy Act, passed in 2009, set targets for reducing energy usage and lowering emissions. It mirrored provisions that had been introduced by Delegate Fleischauer for several preceding years (HB 2980).
Spill Bill - Although she was not a sponsor, Delegate Fleischauer spent more time on SB 373 than any other legislation during the 2014 session. She served on two of the three House committees to which it was referred. Passed in response to a coal-washing chemical spill in the Kanawha Valley, that affected over 300,000 West Virginians, including all of the Legislators who were in session at the time, the bill was designed to prevent future threats to drinking water supplies. SB 373 required inspection and registration of all above-ground storage tanks in the state, and that special attention be paid to potential contaminants in zones of critical concern on rivers and tributaries near water intakes. Public involvement in water protection plans to prevent future spills was mandated. Further, the bill required that there be a study of spill health effects and increased fines for violations. Industry representatives, particularly from the oil and gas industry, complained loudly about the inspection requirements and other mandates. In the 2015 session, with Republican majorities in both Houses, they were successful in convincing the Legislature to dramatically reduce the number of tanks that would be affected by the law. SB 423 included several other changes that lessened the stringency of the legislation.
Length of School Bus Rides - For years, Delegate Fleischauer introduced legislation to limit the time school children ride on busses in our state (for example, HB 2878 in 2004). Inspired by her husband Bob Bastress's efforts in the court system to limit school consolidation in counties so children would not spent inordinate amounts of time getting to and from school, Delegate Fleischauer's bill limited bus trips for elementary students to one hour per day, middle schoolers to one and one half hours, and high school students to two hours. One student estimated that during her school years she could have ridden around the world four times in the amount of time she spent riding busses to and from school.
Legislation modeled on Delegate Fleischauer’s bill finally passed in 2008 (HB 4319), but it was limited to elementary students. Delegate Fleischauer continues to introduce legislation to cut the bus riding times of the upper grade students, whom she thinks may be even more disadvantaged by long bus rides. For example, if students are unable to participate in extra-curricular activities because they spend so much time on school busses, it could jeopardize their chances of being accepted into college.
School Bus Injuries - When six year old Haven McCarthy was killed in Lincoln County by a driver passing her school bus, her relatives, including an aunt in Morgantown, asked the Legislature to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. In 2010, Delegate Fleischauer co-sponsored HB 4489, to increase penalties for careless drivers. During debate in the House Judiciary Committee on another bill related to school bus safety, HB 4223, Delegate Fleischauer offered an amendment that made it a felony offense to cause severe injure or kill a child being discharged from a school bus. HB 4223, as amended, passed the House unanimously after Fleischauer gave an impassioned floor speech. The Senate agreed and the Governor signed the bill making it law.
Student Rental Deposits - The unwarranted retention of rental deposits after a lease has ended by some landlords led to the passage of HB 3202 in 2011, co-sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer. This bill balanced the rights of students to a fair procedure with the rights of landlords trying to maintain decent housing in our community. It established a process for the return and/or deduction of expenses from rental security deposits and included penalties for violations.
Safety Precautions for Convenience Store Staff - Following beatings and a murder of late-night convenience store employees, Delegate Fleischauer co-sponsored and helped pass HB 4119 in 1998, which mandates safety precautions for such employees.
Rules of the Road for Bicycles and Passing Vehicles - HB 4318, sponsored by Delegate Fleischauer in 2014, includes new provisions protecting persons riding bicycles who are in traffic with vehicles. Among other provisions, automobiles now must keep a distance of 3 feet when passing bikes and bicyclists must keep to the right except when making left turns or to avoid obstructions.
Ban on Synthetic Hallucinogens - At the request of the Morgantown Police Chief, who was worried about increasing hospital admissions encountered as a result of intake of synthetic hallucinogens, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored HB 4208 in 2014. The intention of the legislation was to ban synthetic hallucinogens, also known as bath salts or fake weed. Unfortunately, the Legislature has to continually update this legislation due to the development of ever-more and ever-changing sophisticated new compounds that mimic the hallucinogenic effect of other drugs.
Overdose Prevention and Clemency - Prompted by contacts from students as well as officials with Well WVU, Delegate Fleischauer introduced legislation in 2014 (HB 4189) and 2015 (HB 2045 ) relating to providing amnesty for persons who call 911 to prevent a death from an alcohol or drug overdose. After extensive work in the House and Senate Health and Human Resources committees during interim and regular sessions, the Governor introduced legislation which ultimately passed, SB 523.
Creating Access to Opioid Antagonists - West Virginia has had the highest opioid drug overdose rate in the country and the House’s Health and Human Resources Committee, on which Delegate Fleischauer has served as Vice Chair and Minority Chair, has been working diligently to produce legislation that would increase access to nalaxone, a medication which can reverse the effect of an overdose. She sponsored bills in 2014 (HB 4161) and 2015 (HB 2044), but these proposals were revamped by the Governor and passed in 2015 as SB 335.
Restoring the WVU Rifle Team - WVU's decision to eliminate the rifle team from its NCAA line-up of teams in 2003 was a shock to Mountaineers around the state and the country, especially since it was then the only WVU team to win any national championship - much less several of them. Delegate Fleischauer worked behind the scenes with the House and Senate Finance Committees to place $100,000 in funding for the rifle team into the 2004 state budget, which ultimately led to the restoration of the team’s NCAA status. The WVU Rifle Team has rewarded our state by winning several more national championships since then. The budget line item supporting the WVU rifle team remains in the budget.
WVU Board of Governors - When grades were made up and a degree was granted to the daughter of our then-Governor, who had not completed the requisite classes, WVU faculty, staff, students and alumni nation-wide demanded reform. Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 2961, which was intended to prevent future misconduct and provide greater oversight over the awarding of degrees. The provisions of HB 2961 were amended into SB 388 (which dealt with the Promise scholarship). The amended bill reformed the selection process for WVU’s Board of Governors by adding a second faculty member, requiring the Governor to consider gender and minority balance when nominating future board members, and mandating training of Board members.
AMENDING THE WEST VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION
Delegate Fleischauer served as Chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Revision for 16 years. During that time, she was involved in the formulation of several amendments to the Constitution which passed the Legislature by a super-majority and were adopted following a majority vote by state residents. Changes to the West Virginia Constitution that she helped shape include the following amendments.
Family Court Amendment - This amendment created our current system of family court judges (Article VIII, Section 16 - 1999).
Tax Increment Financing Amendment (TIF) - The TIF amendment provided a new way to finance economic development projects; (Article X, Section 81 - 2002).
Prudent Investment of State Funds Amendment - This revision allowed investment of state funds in the stock market under certain conditions, (Article X, Section 6 -1997).
Veterans Bonus Amendment of 2008 (Amendment 17) - As a way of recognizing and thanking those who have served in our most recent conflicts (Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan), this amendment provided cash bonuses for veterans.