Legislative Update – by – Delegate Brent Boggs - House Majority Leader - 12.19.11
I can hardly believe it’s already the week before Christmas. Jean has been decorating and baking; the grandkids are adding to the holiday anticipation, and the Christmas cantata performed Sunday evening at Gassaway Baptist Church was outstanding. It was a wonderful way to conclude the weekend with Christmas days away.
Marcellus Shale - The Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act
The special session successfully concluded last Wednesday with the passage of HB 401 – The Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act. The bill to regulate Marcellus Shale development passed the Senate 33-0 and passed in the House of Delegates 94-5. I will provide a comprehensive overview for you soon.
Small Cities Block Grants for Braxton and Gilmer Counties
Last Monday, Braxton and Gilmer County Commissions were awarded Small Cities Block Grants for waterline extension projects. While I was unable to attend the grant presentation due to legislative meetings, I am pleased that Braxton County Commissioner Gary Ellyson and several Gilmer County representatives stopped by my office.
Braxton County Commission was awarded $1 million in funding for the final phase of the Sugar Creek Public Service District’s Wilsie-Rosedale Waterline Extension Project. This project will provide water to families in the Rosedale area of Braxton and Gilmer Counties. I am pleased that Commissioner Ellyson, J.R. Spencer of the Sugar Creek PSD and others could be on hand to accept this award. This funding is for the final phase of the Wilsie-Rosedale Waterline Extension Project and puts us on track for completion.
While the Wilsie-Rosedale project is nearing completion, another waterline extension project is just getting started in Gilmer County. The Gilmer County Commission received $200,000 towards a waterline extension project for the Cox’s Mill area. This $3.2 million project will extend water service to approximately 104 households. Gilmer County Commissioner Darrel Ramsey, County Administrator Tim Farmer and Sallie Mathess and Ed Talbott of the Gilmer County Public Service Utility Board were in Charleston to accept this award. The Commission should be receiving an additional $1.3 million in Small Cities Block Grant funding in July 2012 to work on this project.
Natural Gas Interruption in Sutton
We received a call at my Capitol office Monday afternoon from Bob Orndorff of Dominion Hope regarding interrupted natural gas service in the Sutton area. As many of you who were affected already know, the gas line was cut in two and service had to be shut off to many homes so the line could be repaired. Many in the Sutton area were without gas service on Monday evening; some residents did not have gas service restored until early Tuesday morning. I appreciate Dominion’s prompt response to this disruption, and I am grateful that they quickly informed my office about the situation. I also appreciate my staff touching base with the Town of Sutton regarding this situation and keeping me apprised of developments while in legislative meetings.
Recognitions and Appreciations
The House is blessed with an outstanding and professional staff and I was honored to participate in the annual staff appreciation luncheon sponsored by Speaker Thompson and the House Rules Committee to recognize their hard work for the House of Delegates. House staff works year round wrapping up loose ends from the previous session and preparing for Interim meetings, special sessions and the next legislative session. Their days are spent researching legislation, bill drafting, helping with constituent issues, proofreading documents and publications of the Legislature, preparing for the next fiscal year’s budget, working on other projects and performing other duties associated with their respective jobs. The members of the House of Delegates certainly appreciate their work on behalf of all West Virginians.
Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License
As a result of legislation passed last session, anyone who turns 65 after January 01, 2012 will be required to purchase a lifetime hunting and fishing license. These senior lifetime licenses are now available for a one-time fee of $25. While seniors currently enjoy free hunting and fishing privileges, this newly required license for those turning 65 will offer many benefits, both to the licensees and to the state Division of Natural Resources. Purchase of this license will cover all of the hunting and fishing benefits seniors currently enjoy and also include the conservation stamp required for all hunters and anglers and a trout fishing stamp. This new license will also permit license holders to participate in special youth deer season established by the Natural Resources Commission. Sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts hope that seniors will see the value of making this one time purchase.
Federal Excise Tax on Guns and Ammunitions
Federal excise tax on guns and ammunitions is directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who then redistributes the money back to states every year. The formula for calculating the amount each state receives is based on the amount of hunting acreage or fishing waters and the number of licensed hunters and anglers. Our state’s seniors have not been counted in this formula because they were not required to obtain a license. This new addition of hunters will allow the state to collect a larger share of federal funds for the WV DNR.
Delegate Williams, Chairman of the House Committee on Senior Citizens Issues, spearheaded efforts to get this legislation passed.. He and DNR Director Frank Jezioro purchased the first two senior lifetime hunting and fishing licenses last week.
Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center
In mid-November, the Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center was recognized at a Gilmer County Board of Education meeting for receiving a superior evaluation from the West Virginia Board of Education’s Office of Education Performance Audits. The Career Center received high marks in both the quality of education and student preparedness for the workplace. The Center’s job placement rates for students in the school’s vocational programs is incredible – and the number of students employed in a field they have been trained is equally impressive. These numbers are reflective of the great work teachers do in educating students and equipping them with the skills they need to enter the workforce. I commend Director Bryan Sterns, other administrators, the faculty and staff at the Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center for their work to recognize, develop and offer curriculum that prepares students for the workforce.
Even more important than the great evaluation is the work that the school is doing to successfully prepare their students for a career. The students also deserve recognition as well, as I’m certain their commitment to education and training while in school has equipped them with the skill-set and confidence to find good jobs at a time when unemployment rates are high in so many areas of our state.
How to Contact
Please send address your inquiries to the Capitol Office at: Building 1, Room 226-M, Charleston, WV 25305. Or, call the Capitol office at 304.340.3220 or my Assistant to the Majority Leader, Mr. Tom Bennett at 304.340.3262 or fax to 304.340.3213. If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.
For those with Internet access, my e-mail address is “Boggs34@aol.com”. You also may obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and other information from the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/. If you write or leave a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and state government phone directory may be found at www.wv.gov and on the Facebook site of the West Virginia Legislature.
Remember to thank a veteran for their service to our nation and 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.
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