Doyle gives legislative report at Town Hall meeting
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Delegate John Doyle hosted his second Town Hall meeting, since taking office as Delegate for the 67th District on Monday evening. The session was hosted by the Shepherdstown Community Club and held at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies on Shepherd University’s campus.
Doyle started the evening by sharing what he considered to be important things that were done in Charleston, as well as things that were not done.
There were several bills that passed in the Legislature which Doyle did not favor. Among them was the Foster Care Bill that, Doyle explained, turns over the state’s foster care oversight to an outside corporation rather than the Department of Health and Human Resources where it had originally been.
“It included giving that corporation, not yet selected, $25 million that I believe could have been better spent hiring more case workers and giving salary increases,” Doyle said.
Other bills mentioned by Doyle included one he dubbed the Second Chance bill, allowing those with a single misdemeanor to have that charge expunged if they keep their records clean for a given amount of time.
He also said municipal home rule is now permanent, thanks to actions taken by the legislature.
Doyle also spoke of his displeasure with the Campaign Finance Bill that passed, increasing limits on funding that can be given to a candidate by any one individual from $1,000 to $2,800. According to Doyle, $2,800 is the national average, but West Virginia has always fallen far below that average.
“In my opinion, candidates should spend more time doing meetings like this one, than out asking for donations,” Doyle said.
Other passed bills Doyle indicated he was not in favor of, included a bill which he said makes West Virginia water dirtier, one that allows kids to transfer to another county to attend school and a bill reducing the severance tax on steam coal to try and increase production.
“This money will go to half a dozen coal barons, one of which is our governor,” Doyle said.
Doyle proudly spoke of bills that were defeated in Charleston during the regular session, including the Omnibus Bill focusing on education reform.
“It had some good things, but it was mostly trash,” Doyle said, mentioning the bill will likely be brought back during a special session that was initially set to focus solely on education, but now may take on other topics as well.
“We defeated the campus carry bill,” Doyle said, to applause from the audience.
Another bill Doyle was glad didn’t pass was the Tim Tebow Bill, which would allow home school students to play on school athletic teams.
“I believe before we allow home school kids to play on school teams, we need to decide if they are community teams or school teams,” Doyle said. “If they are school teams, only school kids should play.”
Opening the floor to questions, Doyle was asked to speak to the topic of Rockwool. When asked if there was anything to “give us hope,” Doyle responded, “Not from Charleston.”
Doyle said he believed the governor and the EPA in Charleston presume Jefferson County wants Rockwool.
“We missed an opportunity to let Charleston know,” Doyle said, mentioning if there had been a hundred or so protesters in Charleston the case against Rockwool would have been seen more clearly. “They [the governor and EPA] are listening to the Jefferson County Commission and to the leaders of Ranson.”
He did speak highly of the action being taken by the Jefferson County Board of Education, who have made an offer to purchase the Rockwool property for an educational resource center. If the purchase is not agreed to by the current owners, the Board of Education has indicated their intent to move forward with condemnation proceedings, so they can take the property via eminent domain.
Doyle also stressed protesters must travel to Charleston to make their case with regard to other areas of concern, such as improving the state’s water and to continue funding the MARC train in the Eastern Panhandle.
“The environmental side needs to have people walking the halls,” Doyle said. “The West Virginia Manufacturing Association has people walking the halls.”
According to Doyle, the WVMA basically runs the Department of Commerce that makes many decisions in the state capital.