A discussion about childhood poverty and its effect on West Virginia is set for Wheeling next week when state lawmakers convene in the city for interim sessions.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, has announced the Senate Select Committee on Children and Poverty will host the community meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Catholic Charities of Wheeling, 2000 Main St. The public is encouraged to attend and participate.
The committee, chaired by Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, has been holding public hearings across the state and gathering information about the problem of child poverty in West Virginia since it was formed earlier this year by Kessler.
Kessler believes child poverty leads to many adult problems that cause strain for taxpayers - including substance abuse, prison overcrowding and higher medical costs.
"A child's socioeconomic status has a significant effect on our communities, especially in the areas of education, health and the criminal justice system," said Kessler. "We need to focus our efforts toward meeting the basic needs of children throughout the state so they can reach their full potential."
Sens. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, and Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, represent the 1st District in the state Senate, which includes Wheeling. Fitzsimmons said he and Yost are pleased the select committee is meeting in their district.
"Poverty produces real, negative consequences for our children," Fitzsimmons said. "We have a collective responsibility to improve these conditions. I, along with Sen. Yost, look forward to hearing from residents and working alongside the select committee."
The Legislature is holding interim sessions in Wheeling all week in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of West Virginia statehood on Thursday. The sessions begin Monday and continue through Friday.