Legislative Update – by – Delegate Brent Boggs - House Majority Leader - 03.19.12
ast Friday, the House and Senate finalized the fiscal year 2013 budget, thereby concluding the legislative business for the regular and extended session. The budget week concluded with conference committee members completing work on each budget account and signing the formal conference report document. The budget now goes to the Governor for his review and signature.
Constitutionally, the Governor has the ability to reduce or eliminate line items in the budget – a power that most governors seem adept at using. While I believe that the power of the purse rests with the legislative branch of government, this is a feature that a 1960’s constitutional amendment handed to the executive branch. We will see in coming days to what extent the Governor wields the red pen.
Additionally, the legislature took up a few veto messages from the Executive to correct bills that appeared to have faulty titles or other technical errors caught between bill enrollment and Governor Tomblin’s signature.
Among other items that I will highlight next week, I am pleased that the final budget includes an increase of approximately $1.8 million for the Aged and Disabled in-home care program in order to serve more of those in need. While it is disappointing that it becomes necessary each year to fight for such a vital and important program, it is a fight I will never shy away from waging. Making certain we keep funding intact for in-home care for our aged and disabled is and will always be one of my top priorities.
Additionally budge week provides an opportunity to spend more time to schedule items of importance to constituents. Early last week, at the request of Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Ron Blankenship, Delegate Dave Walker and I met with Governor Tomblin and regarding a request for funding for a waterline extension. Senator Manchin’s state representative Travis Mollohan and Chris Jarrett from the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council also attended.
Also Senator Facemire and I held meetings with Governor Tomblin’s staff regarding funding for Mountaineer Food Bank, Glenville State College and other district needs.
The high point of last week was a visit I paid to Frametown Elementary School to meet with Ms. Laura Allen and her fourth grade class. A few weeks ago, her class contacted me regarding concerns they had over the earthquakes in the Frametown area. To better explain the basics of earthquakes, Dr. Ron McDowell from WV Geological and Economic Survey attended and gave a great presentation for the students.
I also shared with the class our recent meetings with WV Department of Environmental Protection and my request to DEP that the injunction will be shut down indefinitely. While DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman did not comply with my request, I am looking forward to an interim study on seismic activity and injection wells. In light of the events since 2010, we need to exercise caution and in my opinion, suspending operations at the well site is in order. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to sharing information with Ms. Allen’s class, as well as all interested constituents.
I am so proud of each student and their concerns for the health and safety of the area. They were all polite, enthusiastic, attentive, and asked great questions throughout the presentation.. Thanks again to Laura Allen, FES Principal Linda Sears and her staff for the invitation, hospitality and opportunity. It was a great day.
This was a good year for Second Amendment issues in the Legislature, as three NRA supported bills passed during the session and are now headed to the Governor for his signature.
SB 149, requiring law enforcement return forfeited or abandoned firearms to owners , would mandate police authorities make and document their best efforts to return all seized firearms, not currently being held as evidence in a criminal investigation, to the lawful owner. If the lawful owner is not found or unable to take possession of the firearm, this legislation would require these agencies to sell these firearms at a public auction to a licensed firearms dealer. Current West Virginia law allows for seized guns to be immediately destroyed. SB 149 would prevent the wasteful and expensive practice of destroying firearms that could be re-circulated through licensed dealers to the retail market.
SB 353, relating generally to possession of firearms, would expedite the process of purchasing a firearm for valid concealed carry permit holders by making West Virginia possibly eligible for an exemption from the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Such carry permit holders have already cleared a background check. This legislation would further conform state law to federal law and lead to greater reciprocity for permit holders throughout the United States.
SB 478, creating apprentice hunting and trapping license, would create an apprentice hunting license that is available to West Virginia residents and non-residents. The licenses established are similar to current youth hunting licenses but would be available to apprentice hunters of any age. Apprentice hunters will be permitted to hunt while under the supervision of a person eighteen years of age or older who possesses a valid West Virginia hunting license. This would allow the “apprentice” to be introduced to hunting without having to take the otherwise required hunter education course.
Class AH, AHJ, AAH and AAHJ licenses entitle the licensee to hunt and trap for all legal species of wild animals and wild birds, with proper stamps or other documentation. The apprentice hunting and trapping licenses are annual licenses. The licenses may only be purchased three times, and must be purchased within a five year period.
Finally, I want to conclude by thanking all those that called and asked for clarification regarding the legislation that strengthened the future of Holly Gray Park. While I was unable to attend the public meetings, the legislation requested by the Board of Education, County Commission and Recreation Authority provides more certainty for all those that use and enjoy Holly Gray Park, especially 4-H. It affirms that the first and foremost mission of the Park is 4-H. With the county fair, riding clubs, shows and special events throughout the year, everyone and every group will be more secure in the park’s future and funding stream.
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.