The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

March 11, 2012

Lawmakers pass both texting, drug bills

Last night of the regular session

CHARLESTON — West Virginia lawmakers raced toward the midnight deadline Saturday in passing legislation to outlaw hand-held cell phones for texting and talking, and to combat rampant drug abuse, considered a “scourge” in most of the state.

House and Senate conferees came to terms on the hotly-disputed matter of making it a crime to use a hand-held wireless device to either send text messages or engage in chatter.

As the compromise version was worked out, lawmakers agreed to make texting a primary offense, but merely talking would be a secondary violation until July 1, 2013, when it, too, is elevated to a primary status.

Fines were also compromised by the two chambers — $100 for a first offense, $200 for second, and $300 for a third.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had made both the texting issue and his drug package major components of this session.

In a revised drug bill, the House agreed to reset the daily limit of 15 common cold and allergy medications to 3.6 grams, for a 15-day supply, with a monthly ceiling of 7.2 grams.

Annually, sufferers could buy 48 grams of those remedies — up from the original House version of 24 grams.

Senate President Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, prepared to oversee his chamber’s acceptance of the measure, even with the change.

Based on his talks with the House leadership and Tomblin’s staff, and his own leadership team, Kessler was confident no last-minute flaws would surface to keep the bill from reaching the governor’s desk.

West Virginia would join Indiana in having the lowest daily amount available and be the first state in the nation to impose an annual one, Kessler pointed out.

The House made one other major change — the deadline for trying out the NPLEx real-time tracking system is Jan. 1, 2015, one year later than originally considered.

From day one, while the bill contains a number of features, all the attention focused on cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine — the critical element in the manufacture of illegal meth.

Twice, in Senate committees, Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, tried to impose a “prescription only” wrinkle in the bill to keep pseudoephedrine out of the hands of meth makers.

The bill grew even more controversial over a failed attempt by Delegate Rick Moye, D-Raleigh, to open up the Board of Pharmacy’s database so that sheriffs could get inside, provided they were engaged in an active investigation.

Instead, that idea will be studied this year during interims.

Moye was still reeling over the failure of that, along with his bill that would limit prescriptions for narcotic pain killers to two within a three-day period.

“I wish we had addressed more issues and in a more substantial way, but this is the first step in a long journey,” said Moye, in a statement he wanted to read on the House floor, but the bill was hurried along before he could ask permission to speak.

“I would have preferred for us to have taken a very large step for we have a very long way to go.”

Moye said the lives of everyone in the state — from children to seniors  — hinge on the ability to stem drug abuse, which authorities call an “epidemic” in southern West Virginia.

“We must continue to look for ways to reduce the plague of addiction that has besieged our great state,” he said.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Latest News
  • legion VIDEO: American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32.

    “We see the benefit for both of us and for Raleigh County,” Post 32 Adjutant Frank Cook said. “Right now Post 70 is having membership problems and with membership problems comes financial problems.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before hearings

     More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 31, 2014

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers?

    Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander.

    Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoy

    July 31, 2014

  • Judge in W.Va. asked to delay gay marriage ruling

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has asked a judge to postpone ruling on a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia's same-sex marriage ban until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a ruling in a similar case in Virginia.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before EPA hearings

    More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 30, 2014

  • Work continues on stand-alone Warrior Trail

    The executive director of the Hatfield and McCoy Trail Authority said Tuesday that officials are still working toward the creation of the stand-alone Warrior Trail in McDowell County.

    July 30, 2014

  • East River Mountain Tunnel repairs will continue for several weeks

    Motorists traveling Interstate 77 could see slight delays again tonight as repair work continues inside of the fire-damaged East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 30, 2014

  • State leaders to attend coal rally in Pittsburgh

    West Virginia officials are set to join hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally.

    July 30, 2014

  • Americans continue to be plagued by debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills. 

    July 30, 2014