Legislative column: Recognizing the contributions of nurses

This week marked another deadline day in the West Virginia Legislature for the 2014 Regular Session. Wednesday, February 26th was the 50th day of the session and is known as “cross-over” day, the last day for either body to consider bills in the body of origin. As you may expect, the days around the time grow longer and longer and the meeting agendas get packed with bills and legislation and floor sessions run well into the evenings.

We are discussing many weighty issues but we also, as we did last week, take time out to honor and acknowledge individuals and groups who deserve our praise. This week we designated February 26, 2014, as West Virginia Nurses Unity Day through the adoption of Senate Resolution 38.

One in 43 West Virginians is a nurse and nurses make a significant contribution of time, energy, heart and care toward the healing of our residents who are ill and suffering. Nurses are powerful advocates for the health and well-being of all West Virginians, providing education, screening, nursing intervention, evaluation and research to improve the health of West Virginia residents throughout the life span from pre-birth to the end of life.

Nurses meet the health needs of West Virginians not only in hospitals and long-term care facilities, but conveniently in their homes, at school, at work, at church, in community health centers, on the phone and on the Internet and the Institute of Medicine recognizes nurses as key to solving our current rising cost of chronic illness through their expanding leadership as coordinators and collaborators of interdisciplinary health care teams.

The expanding roles of advanced practice registered nurses as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and certified nurse practitioners in a variety of specialties provide improved cost-effective access to health services in our rural state. I was very pleased to be able to recognize this noble profession, a very important profession which affects so many West Virginians in a positive way each and every day.

We also adopted Senate Joint Resolution 14 which proposes the “Future Fund Amendment” to the West Virginia Constitution to be placed on the ballot for the voters during the 2014 general election.

As I talked earlier about the bill to facilitate the creation of the “Future Fund” to bank a portion of West Virginia’s proceeds from the booming natural gas industry by setting aside 25 percent of any severance taxes after $100 million has been collected from the industry. This proposed amendment to the constitution would set up some framework for the mechanism overseeing this fund such as prohibiting the principal of the West Virginia Future Fund from being spent, appropriated or encumbered.

The amendment would permit spending of the investment income of the Future Fund six years after it is created in Code as long as the funds are used to enhance education and workforce development, economic development and diversification, infrastructure improvements, or tax relief measures. The amendment also would define “investment income.”

If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues on any other pieces of legislation when they come before the Legislature, please contact me at my Charleston office. My address is: Senator Jack Yost, State Capitol Complex, Building 1, Room 214W, Charleston, WV 25305. My telephone number is (304) 357-7984 and my secretary is Wanda Casto. When calling the toll free number 1-877-565-3447, ask to be transferred. I encourage my constituents to remain active and part of the legislative process. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Yost, a Democrat from Wellsburg, represents the 1st Senatorial District in the West Virginia Legislature)