The State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.

RICHMOND – A proposal requiring the state to study the feasibility of transforming Catawba Hospital into a state-of-the-art campus offering substance abuse treatment and addiction recovery survived another crucial step in the legislative process when it was unanimously approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee on Monday. 

Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke.

House Bill 105, sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, would direct the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Service to look into whether it would make sense for the state-owned hospital located in the western part of Roanoke County to provide these amenities in addition to its current mental health services.

“We’re trying to ensure that we take this state owned property and do the best that we can to envision something that is bigger and broader,” Rasoul told members of the panel, adding that there is money in the flush state budget to accommodate his request. His legislation would require about $3.5 million to fund the study of continuous care and the planning around campus design while the entire project may cost around $200 million, Rasoul said last week.

Catawba Hospital, which was opened in 1858 in the Catawba Valley as a healing springs resort to treat tuberculosis patients, specializes in serving adults who need mental health care. Rasoul’s proposal would expand the hospital’s role in the community.

The subcommittee backed Rasoul’s measure with a bipartisan 7-0 vote. It is now headed to the full committee. (See background story on the Virginia Tech class that inspired the bill.)


Bill to pause permitting of mineral mining in Southside killed

A proposal by Del. Shelly Simmonds, D-Newport News, that would have created a work group to study ​​the mining and processing of copper, zinc, and lead in the commonwealth, was defeated by a House subcommittee by a 4-2 party-line vote on Monday. 

The measure would have directed the Secretaries of Natural and Historic Resources, Health and Human Resources, and Commerce and Trade to convene the group and report its findings to the General Assembly by the end of 2023. The bill would also have placed a moratorium until July 1, 2024, on the issuance of new permits to operate a mine for gold, copper, zinc, or lead of an area larger than 10 acres. (See background story on why there are so many minerals underground in Southside).

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Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at or 804-822-1594.