- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia lawmakers plan to overhaul hiring rules for paid interns after the House of Delegates employed a registered sex offender during this year’s legislative session.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1RYkkxL ) reports that the Legislature didn’t conduct a background check on 23-year-old intern Alexander Phillip Collins, who pleaded guilty to downloading and sharing child pornography in 2013 and worked as a paid intern for the House Education Committee this year.

Jackson County’s Steve Westfall says interns this fall likely will be required to disclose any felony or misdemeanor arrests on their application form.

“We are going to redo the application,” Westfall said. “We are in the process of changing this.”

Westfall, a Republican, says staff also will run applicants’ names through the West Virginia sex offender registry.

House Democrats said the applicants should be run through a comprehensive FBI background check.

“Anytime you’re going to be around children, with the page program and so forth, we need to do everything we can to protect students and kids,” said Delegate Dave Perry, D-Fayette, who serves on the House Education Committee. “It’s about protecting the integrity of the system. We have security checks to get into the Capitol, don’t we?”

Payroll records show Collins was hired in early January and abruptly fired in early March, a week before the legislative session ended.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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