- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - After souring on raw milk and nine other bills the day before, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed off Thursday on overhauling the juvenile justice system and welcoming in programs like Teach for America.

The Democrat’s 10 vetoes Wednesday killed pushes for home-schooled students, activists against human trafficking and people thirsty for a swig of raw milk.

Saturday is the last day for Tomblin to act on this legislative session’s bills.

Among Tomblin’s actions:


Tomblin’s veto message Wednesday said letting people drinking raw milk “would pose a serious risk to public health.” He pointed out even the bill says raw milk may contain bacteria particularly dangerous to children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

State health officials should have been tasked with overseeing and regulating raw milk production, he added.

The bill wouldn’t have allowed retail sales of raw milk. People would have had to fill out contracts of ownership for milk-producing animals and sign waivers acknowledging health risks before drinking the milk.

Del. Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, called the veto shortsighted.

“(The veto) will prevent West Virginia from joining a majority of other states who support farm food freedom,” Sobonya responded Thursday.



Tomblin signed a bill with $4.5 million worth of juvenile justice changes aimed at keeping youthful offenders in community services and out of institutions.

West Virginia nearly doubled the rate it sent youths to juvenile facilities from 1997 to 2011, trending opposite of decreases nationwide. The state’s rate increase was the highest.

Tomblin had enlisted a task force to study the topic. The panel’s suggestions, which shaped the bill, would reduce state juvenile justice facility populations by at least 40 percent by 2020, while reducing projected costs by more than $59 million, he has said.

The initiative will put diversion specialists in every county; add youth reporting centers statewide; and expand substance abuse recovery services, mental health programs and family therapies.



Tomblin also approved a push by the GOP-led Legislature to allow programs like Teach for America in the state, which teachers unions had opposed.

In the bill, prospective teachers without traditional education degrees could become certified, but only to work in areas of critical need.

“This bill will help us recruit teachers in both subject and geographic areas that are in need of additional assistance,” Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman said.



Other bills vetoed would have let home-schooled students get PROMISE scholarships without GEDs; dropped a yearly instruction plan requirement for home-schooled students and let parents oversee their standardized testing; and allow state schools for the blind and deaf to receive money from the School Building Authority.

Tomblin declined to drop in-school instructional days by four annually. A bill to offer four days of early childhood education, instead of the current five, was also nixed.

Other vetoes were based on technical errors, including an anti-human trafficking bill.

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