Recovery residence bill amended by Senate

March 7, 2019

CHARLESTON—The West Virginia Senate on Wednesday passed a city of Huntington-supported bill creating a voluntary certification process for recovery residences and the House of Delegates accepted the changes, sending the bill to the governor for his signature.

House Bill 2530 was amended on the Senate floor Tuesday night. Senate Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, withdrew the committee’s amendment and submitted a new amendment combining the committee changes with some code clarifications, including a requirement that the residences comply with the American Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act.

Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Cabell, supported the amendment.

“This is important to Huntington, but also the state as a whole,” Plymale said.

The bill, which was drafted with help from Huntington officials, will require the Department of Health and Human Resources to contract a certifying agency for a voluntary certification program for drug-free and alcohol-free recovery residences, sometimes known as sober living homes, based upon standards determined by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences or a similar entity.

To become certified, residences must show they uphold industry-best practices and support a safe, healthy and effective recovery environment; evaluate the residence’s ability to assist individuals in achieving long-term recovery goals; and protect residents of drug-and alcohol-free housing against unreasonable and unfair practices in setting and collecting fee payments.

The residences also must meet municipal standards, such

as fire safety codes and occupancy rates.

The program is voluntary, but only certified recovery residences will be allowed to accept referrals from state agencies such as the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation or receive state funds.

Huntington City Attorney Scott Damron told the HHR committee last week Huntington most likely has the most recovery residences in the state with 32.

Damron said the ability to take referrals is the lifeblood of a recovery residence.

“We can’t legally stop them from operating, but this puts the onus on them to get certified so they can receive referrals from the state,” he said.

Damron said the city is currently restricted in how it can inspect and regulate recovery residences, and there are some residences that are dangerous operating currently.

Gov. Jim Justice now can sign the bill into law, allow it to go into law without signature or veto the bill.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.