Doyle meets with locals
Del. John Doyle met with residents at a forum Wednesday, April 20 to discuss the successes and failures of the last regular session of the West Virginia Legislature.
Doyle, who has served as the representative for 21 years, said he doesn’t regard the session that ended this spring as very successful.
“The two most important things we have to do in my opinion, we did not get done,” he said.
Doyle had hoped the legislature would pass a bill accounting for the other post employment benefits, or OPEBs. As Doyle explained, these benefits largely provide health care benefits for retirees. Though Doyle said that there is some argument over whether the state government is obligated to provide such benefits; he said he knows the state will.
“We’re going to honor (the obligations). We might as well account for them,” he said.
Doyle was also disappointed that the legislature failed to agree on a bill that would regulate Marcellus Shale drilling practices. Though the senate passed a bill, as well as the House Judiciary and Finance committees, no bill was brought to the floor of the house for a vote, nor was the senate bill voted on.
“I thought this was a serious mistake,” he said.
Doyle did list some statewide achievements.
The legislature voted to strengthen ethics laws for state officials. Legislators also passed the healthcare exchange act, making West Virginia the second state in the country to comply with the Federal Affordable Health Care law. The legislature passed a bill that would provide assistance to families with Autistic children, as well as a civil rights bill for reporters.
Though Doyle wasn’t entirely satisfied with the accomplishments made statewide, Jefferson County made a lot of gains, he said.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed compliance funding bill was a major win for the county in Doyle’s opinion. He called it the “most important” thing the legislature did for Jefferson County. As a result of the bill, sponsored by state Sen. Herb Snyder, the Eastern Panhandle will receive funding to improve existing water treatment plants and construct new plants in accordance to the now stricter Chesapeake watershed regulations.
The “Brownfield law” passed and will require all development of the Brownfield sites to meet local zoning requirements.
The legislature also passed a bill the requires affordability to be factored into to the assessment of impact fees for new construction.
Six bills that relate to horse racing were also made law.
Doyle said the most important of which is a bill that revises the racing rules, an issue important to Jefferson County whish is home to Charles Town Races and Slots.
Doyle will host a second town meeting in Bolivar on Tuesday. It will take place at the Bolivar Community Center from 7:30 to 9 p.m.