West Virginia Gov. Justice signs multiple bills into law

Published: Mar. 27, 2019 at 5:25 PM EDT
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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has signed multiple bills into law, one day ahead of his legislative deadline.

The Republican governor on Tuesday approved measures to let women have their contraceptives prescribed by a pharmacist; restructure the state's foster care system; and tidy up medical marijuana banking services.

The foster care bill shifts the oversight of children's health care to a managed care system, a move the Department of Health and Human Resources said was going to happen anyway. The department's foster care ranks have swelled to about 6,900 children -- an increase of more than 60 percent from the same time in 2015 -- as the state grapples with an ongoing opioid addiction epidemic.

The bill also limits placement of a child in an out-of-state facility unless it's closer to the child's family or the child has a health issue that cannot be addressed by an in-state facility. Family advocacy groups and social workers were skeptical about the bill during a public hearing earlier this year.

Justice also signed a bill letting pharmacists prescribe birth control to women ages 18 or older. Activists cheered the move when the bill passed through the legislature, saying it removes reproductive health care obstacles for women. The measure goes into effect June 7.

And he approved a proposal to let financial institutions bid on contracts to process fees collected under the state's medical marijuana program that launches this summer. The program, which was approved two years ago, had stalled over the question of banking services.

Midnight Wednesday is the executive branch's deadline to sign or veto bills.

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