- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia property owners could no longer get paid by the state for the costs of cleaning up meth labs found on their property, under changes to the state’s crime victim compensation awards approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill eliminates compensation for meth lab cleanup. In the past, property owners could seek up to $10,000 in compensation if a meth lab was discovered on their land.

Meth lab cleanup was removed from the bill Tuesday when it was amended on second reading.

Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said the federal government reimburses West Virginia 60 cents for every $1 awarded to victims except for meth lab cleanups. “We are reimbursed nothing. The fund has been depleted from $60 million down to $2 million. It is only right to spend the money for those who have been personally victimized,” he said.

He added that West Virginia has been the only state that reimburses property owners for meth lab damage.

Senators Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, and Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, spoke Tuesday in opposition to the amendment.

McCabe asserted that unsuspecting property owners are victims of crimes.

“You say we are the only state in the union that does this, but sometimes it is OK to be the only state in the union who does something if it is the right thing to do,” added Barnes.

The bill also increases victim relocation reimbursements from $2,000 to $2,500.

The bill says victims of sexual crimes cannot seek compensation if they refuse to undergo a forensic medical examination. However, it extends the time period a sex crime victim can undergo an examination from 72 to 96 hours.

The bill also says criminal charges are a prerequisite for victims of sexual crimes to receive compensation unless the perpetrator is unknown.

Barnes voted in opposition to the bill.

The bill has moved to the House.



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