The Legislature voted to further reduce the grocery tax to one percent (1%) on July 1st of 2012 and then completely eliminate it on July 1st of 2013. (The grocery tax already is scheduled to be reduced from three percent to two percent on January 1st of 2012.)
The legislative redistricting process was tragically flawed, with transparency and citizen review of the final proposal more farce than fact.
However, the seven (7) member Kanawha County legislative (District #30) was changed from a seven (7) member delegate district to two (2) new delegate districts of four (4) and three (3) delegates, which, given the initial and entrenched opposition from the House of Delegates leadership to any meaningful reform in Kanawha County, was a partial victory for West Virginia citizens.
Unfortunately, House of Delegates leadership could not bring themselves to understand or support the "one-man, one-vote" principle for all of West Virginia, and even went so far as to actually slide backwards by eliminating or gerrymandering single delegate districts elsewhere throughout the State.
Sadly, although all the Delegates in Berkeley and Morgan Counties had
unanimously agreed on a superior delegate redistricting proposal for these two counties, proffered on our behalf by Redistricting Committee Member and Delegate Walter Duke (Berkeley County), a seriously flawed proposal drafted by Delegate John Doyle (Jefferson County) instead was adopted by the committee, even though Delegate Doyle was not even a member of the Redistricting Committee.
The House of Delegates then again rejected the Duke proposal by a vote of 63 nays to 34 ayes (HB 106, Roll Call #530).
Berkeley and Morgan County Delegates Daryl Cowles, Walter Duke, Eric Householder, Larry D. Kump , and John Overington voted Aye on that amendment to HB 106. Jefferson County Delegates John Doyle and Tiffany Lawrence voted Nay. Berkeley County Delegate Jonathan Miller was absent and did not vote.
On the final vote to pass HB 106 by the House of Delegates (64 Ayes to 33 Nays, Roll Call #532) Berkeley and Morgan County Delegates Daryl Cowles, Walter Duke, Eric Householder, Larry D. Kump, and John Overington voted Nay. Jefferson County Delegates John Doyle and Tiffany Lawrence voted Yea. Berkeley County Delegate Jonathan Miller was absent and did not vote.
Perhaps the saddest part of the redistricting vote was when Delegate Patrick Lane offered a hopeful amendment to make future legislative redistrictings more transparent, solicit more public input, and make the initial redistricting recommendations nonpartisan. The amendment never even was allowed to be brought to a vote, because Speaker of the House Richard Thompson ruled it "not germane" to the issue and "out of order".
Legal questions regarding HB 106 also were raised when Delegate Walter Duke pointed out independently confirmed errors in the population statistics used to draft the legislation. These issues remain and may become part of a larger court challenge.
All eyes now are upon Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, to see if he will go along with this continuation of the West Virginia good old boy system and sign HB 106 into law, or stand with the people and veto it.