Doyle discusses focus of upcoming Legislative session
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Delegate John Doyle shared his thoughts on the upcoming Legislative session with more than 60 individuals at his Town Hall meeting in the War Memorial Building on Nov. 4.
In his opening remarks, Doyle highlighted what he believes will be the top issues for the session, beginning in January. Topping the list, Doyle said, will be the state budget.
“It’s close to $100 million below estimates,” Doyle said. “We can’t pay for it all so that will be something to watch.”
Doyle also said that the foster care system within West Virginia is a high priority.
“It’s a mess,” he said, mentioning the state previously signed at $25 million contract with an out-of-state company to address issues within the system.
“We should have given that money to DHHR for more workers and higher salaries,” Doyle stressed. “There are serious problems with run-aways, and, we have no idea where they are.”
Doyle believes this session will focus on higher education, since last year the legislature’s focus was on K-12 education.
“There is no real funding formula for institutes of higher learning,” Doyle said. He said there needs to be work done, to make funding of state institutions more equitable. Doyle said performance standards need to be tied into the formula, an opinion which raised some concern from attendees, who voiced that schools could then compromise education to reach set standards.
The final item on Doyle’s list, was of the increased prison population in the state. He believes other forms of punishment need to be put in place, especially for those who are convicted of non-violent crimes.
The floor opened for questions, through which several other topics were raised. The MARC train funding issue came up briefly, with Doyle saying there is no final answer on the funding requested by Maryland.
Another popular topic was on the adoption of broadband in West Virginia, which is something that the legislature looks at each year.
“If this were 30 years ago, the Feds would have come in and fixed this problem,” Doyle said. “It’s hard for a state to do it, especially a small state like ours, but we need to find a pile of money and work on it.”
Howard Wachtel raised the issue of banning plastic bags. Doyle said he does not believe a bill will move on the issue.
“I sponsor the bill each year,” Doyle said. “Sometimes you have to introduce bills just to highlight the problems.”
Discussions then turned to Rockwool.
“The opposition to Rockwool is not dead,” Doyle said. “There are still viable lawsuits and more lawsuits coming.”
According to Doyle, the upcoming election for West Virginia Supreme Court judges may be something to consider, in connection to the Rockwool issue.
“Three of the five justices are up for election. I would make my views known to these folks,” he said.