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Chemical tanks, craft beer, Teach for America among 47 West Virginia laws taking effect Friday


CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Starting Friday, West Virginia will make life easier for craft brewers, many chemical tank owners and people who want to teach without a formal education background under laws taking effect this week.

Many bills that passed on the final night of the legislative session in mid-March were to take effect 60 days later, making Friday the trigger for 47 new laws.

State lawmakers passed 262 bills last legislative session. While most of those already have become law, 18 of the bills were struck down on vetoes by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Here's a look at some of Friday's new laws, which:

— Allow for the alternative certification of teachers in some high-need areas, including Teach for America. Will Nash, executive director for Teach for America's Appalachian region, said that because state education officials are still making rules about the law, Teach for America is likely about a year away from starting in West Virginia — likely in southern counties that include McDowell, Mingo and Logan.

— Deregulate about 36,000 of about 49,000 aboveground storage tanks covered by a law aiming to prevent chemical spills and protect water supplies. The law was passed after a spill contaminated 300,000 people's water supply in January 2014.

— Let breweries hand out beer samples; allow bars, restaurants and retailers, including convenient stores, to sell growlers; set up a tiered licensing fee system with lower fees for smaller brewers, and delete a bond requirement for brewpubs.

— Block direct-to-consumer car companies, including electric car producer Tesla Motors, from opening stores in West Virginia. There are no Tesla showrooms in the state currently.

— Exempt names of people with concealed carry handgun permits from public disclosure; broaden definition of public record and require new online database of Freedom of Information Act requests.

— Change deliberate intent lawsuit protections, focusing mainly on redefining serious injuries in lawsuits that are available where a known unsafe working condition hurts or kills someone.

— Expand current 20-city home rule program to include another 14 cities.

— Drop two sets of fees required of distilleries and mini-distilleries.

— Allow limited immunity for people who are breaking the law — like drinking underage or having drugs in their system — but are helping someone who is overdosing to get life-saving medical assistance.

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