Gilmer Free Press

WV Legislative Update

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As I write on Sunday afternoon, I’m preparing to make the daily 60-day transition to the Capitol for the Second Regular Session of the 83rd West Virginia Legislature.  Regardless of the year, the issues are important, complex, and detailed.  Just as there are two sides to every story, there may be multiple benefits and consequences to the passage of a bill.  Often, preventing a bill from passing is as important as passing new legislation.  After these many years of representing the citizens of Braxton and Gilmer Counties in the House of Delegates, I consider it an honor to serve you.  As always, I sincerely ask for your prayers for making good decisions for our State.

As the session is set to begin, the grip of dangerously cold weather is beginning to loosen.  Frozen pipes, burst water mains and dangerous roads that have been so frozen that salt has no effect are just a few of the sub-zero hazards.  This has been especially dangerous to those that may have lost heat or in cars that become disabled along the road.  Please check on your neighbors and make sure they’re OK.

I had the opportunity to participate in a forum of state newspapers and media last Friday, held at the offices of Charleston Newspapers.  While I couldn’t attend for the entire day, ours was the first panel of the day.  Also on the panel were Delegate Eric Nelson, Del. Mick Bates and Senator Ed Gaunch.  Upon listening to my colleagues, it’s apparent neither D’s nor R’s have any definitive specifics or information on what the Governor intends to propose in his State of the State Address.

One thing we do know is the budget hearings begin this week.  These are long, tedious proceedings by each state agency, the administration, the Supreme Court and other offices funded by your tax dollars.  Meanwhile, each member is armed with a desk full of documents, spread sheets and internal letters, policies and clarifications from past fiscal years, the current fiscal year, and the requested amount for the upcoming FY 2019 fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2018.

Mr. Bob Basil, a fine gentleman with decades of public service with administrations, state auditors and Finance Committees, took me under his wing nearly two decades ago and showed me “old school” how to read and interpret the overwhelming amount of financial information.  His advice was “follow the money in each of these agency accounts, do your homework, and you’ll learn how each agency and state government operates.”  Bob passed away a few years ago, but his sage advice has served well in tracking budget requests from year to year, through multiple governors, to learn how they operate.

He also was a great help in identifying special revenue accounts and unspent funding that is re-appropriated each year, including funds set aside for positions that are never filled.  All this information and more help mold and shape the general revenue budget for the coming year.

Budget hearings are open to the public, but space is limited in the committee room.  They are also available via live audio streaming from the WV Legislature’s website.  The schedule for House hearings is as follows, subject to change:

January

1/11   Governor’s budget presentation           2:00 PM

11/12 Supreme Court                               9:00 AM

        Lottery                                         10:00 AM

11/15 Higher Education Policy Commission   2:00 PM

        Community and Technical Colleges     3:00 PM

1/17   Department of Commerce                 9:00 AM

        Department of Administration             2:00 PM

1/19   Department of Education                   9:00 AM

1/22   DHHR                                                 2:00 PM

1/24   Div. of Environmental Protection         9:00 AM

        Dept. of Agriculture                         2:00 PM

        WV Conservation Agency                 3:00 PM

1/26   Military Affairs and Public Safety         9:00 AM

1/29   Dept. of Transportation                     2:00 PM

1/31   Bureau of Senior Services                 9:00 AM

        State Auditor                                 2:00 PM

        Veterans Affairs                             3:00 PM

February

2/2     Dept. of Revenue                           9:00 AM

        School Building Authority                 10:00 AM

2/5     State Treasurer                               2:00 PM

        Secretary of State                           3:00 PM

2/7     Education & the Arts                       9:00 AM

        Attorney General                             2:00 PM

2/9     Public Service Commission               9:00 AM

        Consumer Advocate Division             10:00 AM

Remember that many of the hearings listed include numerous state divisions under their prevue.  For instance, DNR falls under the Dept. of Commerce; Regional Jails, Dept. of Corrections, State Police and Adjutant General fall under Military Affairs and Public Safety; DOH and DMV are under the Department of Transportation.  If you have specific questions regarding one or more agencies, please let me know.

Please send your inquiries to the Capitol office:  Building 1, Room 258-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

--> Tuesday, January 09, 2018
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