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Foundation set to distribute West Virginia’s opioid lawsuit settlement money

By Charles Boothe, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

A bill to create a foundation to manage about $1 billion in opioid lawsuit settlement money coming to West Virginia has been signed by Gov. Jim Justice.

Senate Bill 674 officially recognizes the West Virginia First Foundation and authorizes Justice to make appointments to its board of directors with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The private, nonstock, nonprofit foundation will distribute any settlement or judgment funds awarded to the state from litigation.

“I applaud Gov. Justice, the state Senate and the House of Delegates for the immediate attention given to this very important bill,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement Wednesday. “We will now have the groundwork desperately needed to facilitate the management of the state’s and political subdivisions’ nearly $1 billion in opioid settlements. These settlements will not bring back the lives lost from the opioid epidemic, but our hope is that the money would provide significant help to those affected the most.”

All counties and most municipalities will receive funding from the foundation.

Families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl attended the bill signing Wednesday along with state lawmakers, area mayors and other local dignitaries.

“This is the time to begin the healing from all the carnage caused by the opioid epidemic,” Morrisey said. “We must prevent another generation from falling prey to senseless death.” …

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