Monday, April 22, 2013
The 2013 Legislative Session at the West Virginia State House was not yet completed, when another delegate quietly approached me at my desk in the chamber of the West Virginia House of Delegates.
He asked me to join with other state legislators and sign my name to a letter of endorsement for the election of an incumbent candidate in the 2014 Republican Primary.
I firmly declined, explaining that, in my opinion, political party officials and legislators should resist the temptation to become advocates for any candidate vying for their political party's nomination.
Instead, let's trust the judgement of the voters within their respective political parties.
Yours for better governance (and fewer political bosses),
Delegate Larry D. Kump
Even with a reconvened "special" session of the Legislature by the Governor, he mandated that the business of that session be restricted to just a scant handful of non-emergency and narrowly focused proposals, that previously failed to pass the just adjourned regular legislative session.
The prison legislation was helpful in that it expanded the drug courts, but it also failed to address the major issues of sentencing and prison overcrowding that gives West Virginia the highest rate of incarceration in the country.
The education legislation included some good stuff, but mostly nibbled around the edges of our ongoing education crisis and did not take much of a bite out of our problem of too much bureaucratic control over our local schools by the State Department of Education. It simply did not empower local school boards and parents to be more engaged on behalf of our children.
Municipal Home Rule legislation was a step forward, and it also included some important protections of our Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights. A further step forward would be to further encourage voter participation, by requiring municipal elections to be held at the same time as state and federal elections. This also would save tax dollars.
However, little progress was made in improving our judicial process and reforming our state government taxing and regulation.
We should and must stem the flight of West Virginians to other areas, as they desperately search for good jobs and prosperity for themselves and their families.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Meanwhile, major economic issues, affecting the prosperity of all of us here in the Mountain State, continue to lie on the legislative table and remain unaddressed.
For more of this about that, read the other entries at this website.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
To that end, it's important to note that the ability of our state government to make ends meet will be affected more and more by what is going on in Washington, D.C..
While many Mountaineer citizens are unhappy with some forced cutbacks in services and frustrated with the lack of new and expanded programs, we also must be prepared to deal with what some are calling "the most predictable economic crisis in our history".
According to our "numbers crunchers" down here in the State Capitol, approximately four billion out of the eleven billion dollars in our state budget now is dependent on federal funding (over 36%).
However, the most recent report of the Government Accountability Office and the Comptroller General of the United States warns us that, "...comprehensive long-term fiscal projections show that- absent policy changes - the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.".
What that means is, when necessary and painful budget changes inevitably are made in our federal government spending and programming, that also will mean that the already diminishing federal funding available to us here in West Virginia also will continue to decline, and not just by small amounts.
During this session of the West Virginia Legislature, we had to make some cuts in order to meet West Virginia state government's growing financial challenge, but that only took care of this year's coming budget.
What about the following years?
Just as we citizens have to prudently manage our personal family incomes, we also have an obligation to make sure that elected officials are wise stewards on behalf of all of us taxpayers and our families.
During this legislative session, I ruefully saw numerous groups and organizations persistently plead (and sometimes demand) more programs and services. Some even unabashedly asked for tax increases on all of us. Many, if not most, of them paint heart-rending scenarios if their proposals are un or under funded.
Obviously, a Mom and Dad should not gather together their children, announce to them that their family income has decreased, and tell them that, "We're going to have to let one of you go!".
And, so it also should not be with the State of West Virginia and our families.
Now is the time to hold all elected officials accountable for our stewardship, and not send us further down the road to higher taxes and more initiative destroying entitlement programs.
Instead, let's work together to liberate our Mountaineer economy and families.
We can and must do this.
For more information about what has happened in the West Virginia Legislature this year, visit www.legis.state.wv.us, and also check out the other entries at this website for my legislative commentaries.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
House passes prison legislation - journal-news.net | News, sports, jobs, community information for Martinsburg - The Journal
CHARLESTON — In an 81 to 17 vote, the West Virginia legislature Friday morning passed a prison overcrowding bill after much debate from House member...
Friday, April 12, 2013
Every city in West Virginia could seek entry into the home rule pilot program in a revised bill that easily cleared the House of Delegates but its fa
Click on the link below for the orginal newspaper story on this issue:
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Thank you very much for your kind letter of February 27, 2013.
We appreciate your expression of interest in having the Beretta companies in the U.S. move to your region; however, we are not entertaining invitations of that type at this time but instead are focused on the legislative debate pending in Maryland relating to potential firearm and firearm magazine bans. Only after that debate is resolved and the impact of pending legislation on our companies is known will we evaluate what further steps, if any, our companies need to take in that regard. Certainly if our business interests require that we expand or relocate part of our operations elsewhere we will consider West Virginia in that regard.
BERETTA U.S.A. CORP.
Jeffrey K. Reh
General Counsel and Vice-General Manager
17601 Beretta Drive
Accokeek, MD 20607
Note: Please see my original "Dear Beretta.." letter, entry of February 27th, 2013, at this website.
Mr. Jeffrey Reh, General Counsel
17601 Beretta Drive
Accokeek, MD 20607
Re: West Virginia Welcomes You!
Dear Mr. Reh,
West Virginia, known throughout our nation for our respect and
reverence of the 2nd Amendment, should be Beretta's first choice for
relocation from the less than friendly environment you currently endure in Maryland.
Here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, we are in close
proximity to our nation's Capitol and also at a nexus of superior
Please bring Beretta's operations here to our open arms, where
your company and your employees will savor our family friendly atmosphere, excellent technical training resources with the Blue Ridge Technical College, and pleasantly affordable cost of living.
Looking forward to hearing from and working with Beretta, I remain,
Working together to stay independent,
Delegate Larry D. Kump
The complete newspaper story can be viewed at:
Monday, April 8, 2013
Guests who also attended and participated were Vince Hodge and J. Charles Riecks (MARC passengers advocacy group), Brian Clark (Spirit of Jefferson newspaper), David Zunger (Jefferson County Tourism), and Elliot Simon (Jefferson County resident).
SB 103 (MARC issues, see previous "Panhandle News" entries on this issue at this website) still is pending action by the House of Delegates Finance Committee.
SB 611 and HB 3101 (Community Interest Ownership - Home Owners' Associations) have not survived the committee process and is not on the agenda for final legislative passage this week.
SB 435 (Home Rule for Municipalities) currently is tied up in the House of Delegates Rules Committee, and it's status is uncertain at this point.
SB 371 (Criminal Justice Reform) is still alive and waiting further action by the House of Delegates.
This is the final week for legislative proposals (bills) to pass the Legislature, and the Legislature will vote on the State Budget next week.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Now, in the remaining days of this first session of 81st Legislature, the House of Delegates and the Senate will concentrate their efforts on consideration of legislation already passed by the other chamber.
This session will end shortly after Midnight on Saturday, April 13th, but then we will reconvene the following week to vote on the West Virginia State Budget.
Meanwhile, West Virginia Senate leaders continue to express reluctance to even have committee hearings on the numerous 2nd Amendment protection proposals passed by the House of Delegates, and that dynamic will continue to be watched closely by Mountaineer citizens.
Also, and in the House of Delegates this week, a few bills had passed their respective committees and were scheduled for votes on the last day for their consideration (Wednesday. April 3rd), but were pulled from the voting calendar at the last minute by the House Democrat leaders. It is speculated by many that this was done because these leaders ruefully realized that these bills simply would not receive enough votes for final passage from the House of Delegates.
One of these bills was HB 2946.
HB 2946 would have expanded the hours in which alcoholic beverages could be served on Sundays.
My position on HB 2946 was and is that booze is bad, but that public boozing is even worse.
Now, my political views are much more libertarian in nature than politically partisan, mostly because I believe that our personal behavior which doesn't harm others simply should not be the concern of government.
However, that just is not the case with public boozing.
West Virginia is my residence of choice and I love it dearly, but many outside of our mountain refuge sadly visualize our homeplace as filled with strip clubs, gambling dens, and rowdy bars.
So and with HB 2946, here we go again.
HB 2946 was not just about commerce.
Booze has a devastating effect upon our society and families, but it also dramatically adds to death and carnage on our highways.
Now,and on an intensely personal note, some of you know about my conversion to my faith many years ago.
Very few others know that one happy side circumstance of my religious conversion was that, among other things, it rescued me from the ravages of alcoholism, and I haven't had a drink of that stuff since February 22nd, 1969.
I love capitalism and the free market, but let us not allow enteprenurial greed to blind us from prudent public policy.
Pulling HB 2946 from the House of Delegates voting calendar was a sober deliberation and decision.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
Our caucus meeting guest was West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, who also updated us on area road projects and fielded questions.
Secretary Mattox glumly announced that there currently are no new roads planned for West Virginia, including no improvements to Rt. 9 West of Martinsburg and Rt 522 in Morgan County, due to a serious lack of funding.
He explained that the aging and static population of West Virginia contributes to this problem, as well as the rising cost of road construction and our mountainous terrain.
According to the Secretary, West Virginia is hard put to even manage the decline of our current state road system, with repaving now on a twenty-eight year cycle, instead of the recommended twelve year cycle. He went on to say that "tar & chip" now even is being used on state road maintenance, instead of the more costly and more durable asphalt, and that the average age of our bridges is fifty years.
Mr. Mattox cited a current budget of $710 million, but said that another $750 million is needed just to properly maintain our existing state roads, and another $380 million would be needed for proposed new projects (It costs $200,000 per mile to build a new road).
He admitted that West Virginia already has one of the highest gasoline taxes in the country, even though that tax has not changed for the last ten years.
In response to concerns raised by Delegate Kump about driver safety issues on the I-81 construction at the Marlowe/Falling Waters exit, the Secretary promised to investigate that issue. He also confessed that an I-81 "bottleneck" will remain at the I-81 bridge over the Potomac River and beyond, since Maryland owns the Potomac River and is responsible for I-81 from that point northward into Maryland.
Meanwhile, the Governor has a "Blue Ribbon Committee" investigating our Mountaineer highways, and it is speculated that a special session of the Legislature might be called during this Summer to address this problem.
HJR 66 Amending the West Virginia Constitution by removing "Pursuit of Happiness"- to Constitutional Revision and then Judiciary.
HJR 67 Amending the West Virginia Constitution by abolishing the West Virginia Senate- to Consitutional Revision and then Judiciary
HB 3219 Requiring the Department of Transportation to fund and construct at least fifty (50) new bridges each year, solely for the Legislature to name on behalf of constituents- to Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security and then Finance.
HB 3220 Prohibiting the sale of elected and appointed officials to the lowest bidder- to Judiciary and then Finance.
HB 3221 Declaring April 1st an official state holiday, but only for certain elected and appointed officials- to Government Organization and then Finance.
HB 3222 Authorizing the Lottery Commission to promulgate legislative rules relating to wagering on the outcome of ethics commission and attorney general opinions- to Finance and then Judiciary.
HB 3223 Authoring the Secretary of State to promulgate legislative rules relating to the optional counting of ballots and the use of alternative mathematical principles for tallying election results generally- to Political Subdivisions and then Judiciary.
HCR 666 Establishing water as the official West Virginia state liquid- to Rules.
For those who don't understand the above, please consider the April 1st date of this entry's posting.