Area delegate says opioids will dominate session

WHEELING — The West Virginia Legislature must act during the upcoming session to address the state’s opioid addiction issues, according to Del. Erikka Storch.

“It’s an issue that’s important across the state,” Storch, R-Ohio, said. “While the problem isn’t as bad here, there has been a lot of negative news lately out of Huntington about the opioid problem. We’re going to have to evaluate and see if anything we have done lately has been effective. Then we’ll have to put some nonpartisan heads together to deal with this problem.”

More money for drug treatment centers and more beds for rehabilitation are being discussed by legislators, Storch said. Some lawmakers, meanwhile, also have suggested legalizing recreational marijuana could be the answer.

“Some support it, but there is a segment of our population who vehemently opposes it,” Storch said. “It has only been in discussion for a short time.”

Other issues that could come up during the session that begins Jan. 10 could be the establishment of a statewide court similar to the drug court programs that have been set up around the state, according to Storch.

There also will likely be discussion about providing more money to promote tourism in the state.

“They wanted more last year, but they didn’t articulate a designated plan,” she said.

Lawmakers believe budget issues won’t dominate this year’s legislative session as they have in past years.

“Hopefully, projections will continue to be better than expected,” Storch said.

Storch anticipates the Legislature will wait before acting on any legislation pertaining to the legalization of sports betting.

“It could do good things for West Virginia finances,” she said. “But I haven’t had any discussions with leadership as to their beliefs.”

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