Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier

It’s halftime at the West Virginia legislature. Like this year’s Super Bowl, we got off to a slow start, but I expect an exciting second half.

CHILDREN & FAMILIES. This week I wrote an editorial for The Charleston Gazette Mail about putting our kids first. Plain and simple, those are our West Virginia values. Kids come first. And it’s time to put our money where our heart is. I won’t rehash the details here, but the point is that where we spend our money shows what our priorities are. We know proven ways to spend small amounts of money to improve the lives of our children. That must be our top priority.

NURSING HOME MEDS. I voted against a bill this week (SB560) which changes the protocols for who may administer certain medications in nursing homes. While it received broad support from associations across the state, a number of nurses who work at a local nursing home communicated their opposition to me. They believe this change will result in two problems. In the short term, they fear it leaves medication distribution in the hands of those who aren’t trained to do that. In the long term, they fear it will lead to fewer skilled nurses on the job. I trust the people who do the job every day to educate me about how bills affect them. So if you’re in the same position one day, please reach out!

BORN ALIVE BILL. This week, the Judiciary Committee voted on the Born Alive Bill. It would require that if an infant were born alive during an attempted abortion, physicians must: "Exercise the same degree of reasonable medical judgment to preserve the life and health of the child as a physician would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age." Critics of the bill say the likelihood of that ever happening is extremely small. I believe if it saves a single life then it is worth it. The health care of women and children is a complicated matter and should be treated with the seriousness and attention to detail it deserves. I voted for it in committee and plan to vote for it on the floor.

SOLAR POWER. Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch testified this week before a committee regarding energy policy. He shared that one of the larger impediments to attracting new businesses to our state is a lack of energy diversity. He said companies want to buy power that is generated from multiple sources including wind and solar. Coal is certainly a vital part of our past and will be an important part of our future. But in today’s market, a diverse energy portfolio is a necessity. Towards that end, I co-sponsored a bill (SB611) to boost our solar market. It was placed on the agenda with bipartisan support then suddenly disappeared. Stay tuned.

NATURAL DISASTER DECLARATIONS. Right now, citizens are protected from price-gouging during natural disasters for at least 30 days. Eagle-eyed readers may remember a bill last year which cut that in half to 15 days. I fought the bill with every ounce of my being, and it died. This year, like Frankenstein, the bill was revived. Fortunately, thanks to a lot of behind the scenes work with other senators, industry, and the Governor’s office, we arrived at a solution that keeps the protection set at 30 days minimum, more if needed during a bad disaster. We need to protect our citizens during natural disasters, not make it easier to exploit them.

That’s the view from the back pew, where it is my privilege to serve you!

Senator Stephen Baldwin is a local Presbyterian pastor. Reach him at 304-357-7959 or Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @BaldwinForWV.

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