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WV Legislative Update

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Life is full of milestones and this week, Jean and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  We both have our own version of how we met and dated (I think my version is more accurate; she disagrees) but we’ve been truly blessed.  Life has its ups and downs and I’m thankful for many things in life.  My love and appreciation for Jean grows as the years roll on.

With this first column for the New Year, there is a flurry of activity from legislative staff and support personnel, preparing for the influx of legislators this week.  As with any new legislative term, this First Regular Session of the Eighty-fourth West Virginia Legislature begins with many new members, new leaders, and an opportunity to address new and existing challenges for our State.  On a personal note, this will begin my twenty-third year representing the citizens of Braxton and Gilmer Counties in the House.  It continues to be an honor and privilege to serve each of you, whether at the Capitol, in the district, and in keeping you informed all year long.

Unknown at this writing is what Governor Justice will highlight and prioritize for the upcoming session.  Likewise, it remains to be seen if the new Speaker will set the tone for House bipartisanship.  It’s an unknown if the minority leader will choose to work across the aisle.  These and many other factors will shape the tone and tenor of the session from the inside out.

This is not by any means and exhaustive, all-inclusive list, but here are a few basic needs that are overdue for meaningful action:

  • Despite high-profile committees established by the Governor, PEIA is still in limbo and thus far the only plan to date is temporary at best.

  • No meaningful movement has been made to address recruitment, retention and needed funding for our volunteer firefighters.

  • Higher education funding restoration has been hijacked by a few regional institutions at the expense of the others.  Meanwhile, the Higher Education Policy Commission is once again on life support, barring legislative or gubernatorial intervention.

  • Despite lots of talk in the Judiciary Committees, there remains no meaningful movement on legislation to protect the rights of grandparents.  Considering we have a tremendous number of dedicated grandparents raising grandkids and great-grandkids, protecting their rights should be a priority.

  • Drug-related crime is rampant.  Time to enact policies that recognize this is an addiction problem that needs treatment and concentrate on getting rehab to help our citizens return to the workforce.  Punish the crime.  Treat the addiction.

  • Regional drug treatment options remain virtually non-existent if you live in a rural area – which is most of West Virginia.

  • Expedite the use of non-violent prisoners in our regional jails for public service projects.  Litter pick-up along our highways and parks should be a priority.

  • The WV Development Office still is failing to address rural West Virginians when working to bring in new jobs for our citizens.  Small Business Development Centers are the bright spots that need additional resources and incentives.

  • High speed broadband – a necessity for today’s homes, businesses and other institutions – remains a huge unmet need for rural residents, despite promises by a succession of Governors from both parties (a contributing factor in why we’re losing population at a rate higher than any other state).

One bill that I hope gets moving early is one that exempts all or a portion of Social Security benefits from state income tax.  Depending on the threshold used to determine an exemption, the costs in the state budget vary greatly.  However, this is a bill that I’ve work on for years, but we’ve never had the House, Senate and Governor all on board.  Since West Virginia is one of only a few states that taxes Social Security income, changes made would help senior citizens now and eventually all when reaching retirement age.  It would also send a positive signal to retirees in attracting them to stay in, or to return or relocate to West Virginia.

Likely one of the most significant issues we can address is the massive population loss our State has experienced for decades.  So, policies that will create jobs will give our young adults an incentive and opportunity to stay in West Virginia and attract others to all the good things our State has to offer.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll attempt to keep you updated as column space allows and via social media.  I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully seeing many of you at the Capitol in the weeks ahead.

Please send your inquiries to my home office:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624.  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.

“High speed broadband – a necessity for today’s homes, businesses and other institutions – remains a huge unmet need for rural residents, despite promises by a succession of Governors from both parties (a contributing factor in why we’re losing population at a rate higher than any other state).“

I disagree with much of what Mr.Boggs believes.  That said, high-speed broadband is the single most important step the State of WV could take to improve the business climate and provide more opportunities for its citizens.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

Comment by Pat McGroyne  on  01.08.2019

Pat McGroyne is spot on.
High speed internet is simply another failure of WV state government.

If the elected in our state, were doing the job expected by voters….we should have very few problems or issues?

Comment by Gilmer resident  on  01.14.2019
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