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Senate Judiciary OKs invoice to lift smoking age to 21; additionally handles church and sexual assault measures

MORGANTOWN – Senate Judiciary cruised by way of a collection of payments on Friday, coping with church buildings, sexual assault, and belief-based scholar organizations, however the one which spurred probably the most debate was one to lift the authorized smoking age.

SB 717 raises the age for the authorized buy of tobacco merchandise from 18 to 21 (matching the authorized consuming age). It additionally updates the checklist of tobacco merchandise so as to add e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pens, e-hookahs, filters, rolling papers, blunt or hemp wraps and pipes.

It shifts the duty for inspections from the Alcohol Beverage Management Administration to the Bureau for Behavioral Well being.

It removes penalties for underage people who smoke however defines penalties for sellers and the sellers’ workers.

Nicholas Stutchell, with the state Workplace of Drug Management Coverage, stated state legislation, which units the authorized age at 18, conflicts with federal legislation that units the age at 21. The Bureau for Behavioral Well being does the retailer inspections, however the feds need 18- to 20-year-olds to aim the purchases, and State Police, who would write the citations, can’t implement federal legislation.

The battle, he stated, would imply a lack of about $875,000 per yr in federal substance abuse block grants. “We’d not prefer to lose the funding.”

Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wooden, was amongst these opposing the invoice. He stated his son serves within the military in Kuwait, and he dips snuff. “That’s what West Virginians do. … It’s a ceremony of passage.” And if the invoice passes, he gained’t have the ability to when he comes house.

Sen. Jay Taylor, R-Taylor, stated smoking is disgusting and kills thousands and thousands. However 18-year-olds can vote and go to conflict. “Who’re we to remove their freedom to go exterior and lightweight one up?”

The vote was carried out with a present of arms and was accredited 8-5. It goes to the complete Senate.

SJR 6 resurrects a constitutional modification that failed within the cascade modification crash of 2002, when all 4 proposals went right down to defeat. This one would put earlier than the voters in November an modification to the state Structure to permit incorporation of church buildings.

Church buildings incorporate with a view to acquire some authorized protections, comparable to legal responsibility, and to make it simpler to borrow cash and buy property. The modification would delete the sentence prohibiting the granting of charters from the structure and exchange it with one saying, “Provisions can also be made by normal legal guidelines for the incorporation of church buildings or spiritual denominations that select to include.”

The wording is barely totally different from the 2022 model, and committee chair Charles Trump, R-Morgan, stated the phrase “that select to include” as a result of folks thought the prior modification required church buildings to include.

The state of Virginia’s Structure contained the same clause that was declared unconstitutional by a federal court docket in 2002 for violating the First Modification. Virginia and West Virginia have been the one two states with such a ban.

Beginning in 2003, then-Secretary of State Joe Manchin started granting charters and all subsequent secretaries have carried out the identical. However when the 2022 modification failed, Secretary of State Mac Warner stopped issuing company charters.

Sen. Mark Maynard, R-Wayne, identified that one purpose this and the opposite amendments failed in 2022 was as a result of the state-authorized explanatory materials about them was complicated and indecipherable.

The senators accredited the decision, and it goes subsequent to Finance.

SB 769 would prohibit a court docket from ordering a sexual assault sufferer to unwillingly endure a bodily examination. Refusal could not function the idea to exclude proof obtained from different related examinations of the sufferer.

Molly Montague, with the Rape Abuse and Incest Nationwide Community stated her group helps the invoice. It ensures survivors should not pressured to endure an invasive examination and to not be retraumatized by exams that aren’t medially necessary.

Senators accredited the invoice in a unanimous voice vote. It’s on second studying on the Senate flooring.

The launched model of SB 503, accredited by the Schooling Committee, says a state establishment of upper schooling could not deny a non secular, political, or ideological scholar group that’s open to all college students any profit or privilege made typically out there to every other scholar group, or in any other case discriminate in opposition to the group, based mostly on: the expression of the group; or a requirement that the group’s leaders or members affirm and cling to the group’s sincerely held beliefs, adjust to the group’s requirements of conduct, or additional the group’s mission or objective.

The Judiciary accredited a committee substitute for the invoice with out dialogue or debate, however the adjustments weren’t out there for evaluation Friday afternoon. It goes to the complete Senate.

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