WEST virginia legislature
2019 regular session
House Bill 2681
By Delegate Cowles, Steele, Canestraro, Miller, Lovejoy and Kessinger
[Introduced January 25, 2019; Referred
to the Committee on Health and Human Resources then the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §49-4-501 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to duties of prosecuting attorneys in matters of abuse or neglect of children and to resolution of conflicts between a prosecuting attorney and the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 4. COURT ACTIONS.
Part V. Duties of the Prosecuting Attorney.
§49-4-501. Prosecuting attorney representation of the Department of Health and Human Resources; conflict resolution.
(a) The prosecuting attorney shall render to the Department of Health and Human Resources, without additional compensation, the legal services as the department may require. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the department from developing plans for cooperation with courts, prosecuting attorneys, and other law-enforcement officials in a manner as to permit the state and its citizens to obtain maximum fiscal benefits under federal laws, rules and regulations.
(b) Nothing in this code may be construed to limit the authority of a prosecuting attorney to file an abuse or neglect petition, including the duties and responsibilities owed to its client the Department of Health and Human Resources, in his or her fulfillment of the provisions of this article.
(c) Prosecuting attorneys have the right and
responsibility to represent the public interest in protecting abused and
neglected children when their position conflicts with that of the department.
Whenever, pursuant to this chapter, a prosecuting attorney acts as counsel for
the Department of Health and Human Resources, and a dispute arises between the
prosecuting attorney and the department's representative,
because an action
proposed by the other is believed to place the child at imminent risk of abuse
or serious neglect either the prosecuting attorney or the department's
representative may contact the secretary of the department and the executive
director of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute for prompt
mediation and resolution. The secretary may designate either his or her general
counsel or the director of social services to act as his or her designee and
the executive director may designate an objective prosecuting attorney as his
or her designee.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to add language to the West Virginia Code to provide guidance for prosecuting attorneys in cases involving abused and neglected children and a means of resolving conflicts with representatives of the DHHR.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.