CHARLESTON - A local state delegate is pleased the West Virginia House of Delegates' Health Committee is being elevated to a major standing committee on par with the Finance, Judiciary, Education and Government Organization committees.
Delegate Anna Border, R-Wood, who is the only local delegate to serve on the health committee, said it was great news.
"I think we tackle a lot of important issues," she said. "We spend a lot of time working on that committee."
The health committee regularly meets during interim sessions and
In announcing the elevation of the committee, House Speaker Rick Thompson said Thursday health issues are becoming more important for the citizens of West Virginia.
"The availability and affordability of healthcare is an extremely pressing issue, both at a national and state level," Thompson said. "And in our state, our large senior population, and the many troubling health problems that are so prevalent here, make the issue all the more urgent.
"By allowing the House Health Committee to meet as often as the other four, longstanding major committees, much more time and energy can be dedicated to health-related legislation."
House Health Chairman Don Perdue said he is extremely pleased with the decision.
"The Speaker and I have discussed this issue a number of times over the past several years and I now believe the time is right to make this important move," Perdue said. "Health care comprises more than 22 percent of our state budget in terms of expense, it is assuming larger importance not only for our state, but nationally, and our demographics lend themselves to an ever-increasing share both fiscally and sociologically to the fabric of our government."
Thompson said he has heard from many members who would like the Health Committee to be able to spend more time examining health care matters.
"I believe this change is a very positive step in helping House of Delegates members better meet the needs of their constituents and to serve the state as a whole," he said.
Border hopes the committee will be able to spend more time tackling problems, such as the abuse of bath salts, methamphetamine and other drugs. She also wants to examine the effectiveness of real time tracking systems for pharmacies around the state in addressing drug abuse and meth production issues.
"All of that will be coming through that committee," she said. "It really is an important committee."