The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 20, 2013

Get it moving

— Substance abuse is killing West Virginians nearly every day.

Families are suffering.

The abuse of drugs is touching every community.

It is affecting crime rates, our economy and health care costs.

We must continue the fight against this terrible and rampant cultural issue.

Yet, with a bit less than half of the 2013 legislative session remaining, a bill that would require drug tests for welfare recipients is stalled.

At least two local lawmakers say that testing would “work wonders in raising student academic progress by improving their home environments.”

Sens. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, and Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, say the Senate is passing up a major opportunity to improve work in the classroom by helping rid some homes of illegal drugs.

Given the problem and the effects drug abusers have on children, we are baffled, too, as to why this bill hasn’t received more attention by their fellow Senate peers.

“When you look at the public opinion polls, when you look at all the issues that are out there, it’s not only popular publicly, but it also would be beneficial,” said Green. “It would help our children, help the epidemic we have with the drug problem in southern West Virginia. To me, this is a no-brainer. I just can’t figure out why it’s not gaining more momentum than it is now.”

The bill is in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. So far, chairman Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, has shown no inclination to take it up. Even if it did clear his panel, the bill would still have to pass through judiciary and finance committees before reaching the floor for a vote.

In other words, time is running out and it doesn’t look good right now.

Now that the education bill, one that has garnered the most attention thus far, has finally been approved by the Senate, Green said the chamber would still have ample time to work on the welfare drug testing bill before the session closes April 13.

Let’s hope this gets done.

Not every drug abuser is a welfare recipient, that’s understood. But if it straightens up a good percentage of folks that would fall under the guidelines, it would be a success.

It wouldn’t hurt children of those abusive homes.

It would help them.

Living in the living conditions that drug abuse brings, that’s what harmful to children.

An addict’s habits and abusive lifestyle should not be sustained by tax dollars.

A bill that wages war on the current epidemic of drug abuse in our state must be considered thoroughly and carefully.

Not set aside.

The future of our state depends on it.