Marijuana, Water Bills Approved by West Virginia Legislature
CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia lawmakers have voted to raise water-pollution limits, legalize medical marijuana, end school standardized testing aligned with the Common Core curriculum and hold a voter referendum this year on issuing $1.6 billion in bonds to rebuild state highways and bridges.
The House and Senate, which ended their two-month session Sunday, also passed a $4.1 billion general fund budget with no tax increases and steeper cuts to higher education and Medicaid than Gov.
A bill to authorize natural gas producers to drill when three-fourths of those with royalty rights agree also foundered.
Justice has already signed new laws to end regulation of about 2,300 above-ground storage tanks and to let industrial plants discharge cancer-causing and other chemicals based on the average flow in a waterway instead of its low flow, allowing larger discharges from individual sites.
“Water quality standards are the safe levels of pollutants that are allowed in our streams,” the West Virginia Manufacturers Association said, urging the change.
A bill backed by coal producers that passed both houses also would change measurements of related stream health, relying primarily on fish populations instead of insects.
Jim Justice said he’ll sign it.
Justice vetoed that bill.
Enforcement has been blocked by a court injunction in a lawsuit brought by unions.
The Senate passed the bill, but it died in the House.