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Cafe Society to discuss West Virginia legislative process

By Staff | Feb 26, 2016

The next Cafe Society discussion on March 1 will focus on performance of this year’s West Virginia legislature. It appears highly unlikely that major budget deficiencies will be resolved by the conclusion of the annual 60 day session. A number of related critical issues remain to be addressed. The Cafe Society is a part of Shepherd University’s Life Long Learning Program. These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges.

Cafe facilitator Mike Austin said, “Although our state legislators have tackled several difficult issues, they have appeared reluctant to concentrate on what should have been a priority from the outset resolving significant resource shortfalls. The much labored laments about declining coal and gas revenue and new competition for the state’s gambling enterprises are getting old sort of like “beating a dead horse.” It is unlikely that more belt-tightening and paring of existing programs will provide the necessary resources. Even if we can entice more new businesses to come into West Virginia, the beneficial impact won’t be immediate. Unpopular as it is, we probably need to generate more taxes. Our governor made it clear at the outset that increasing the tax on tobacco is preferentially a first step. How much and where the money goes appears to still be an issue. But heaven help us, we might be running out of sins to tax. Then what?”

He went on to say, “It may just be an aspect of state legislators in general across our nation, and not particularly unique in Charleston, but I have been struck by the frivolous nature of many of the bills proposed sort of like a “Creative Writing 101 Class. Yes, some of it is obviously inescapable political payback to supporters, or a matter of keeping faith with strongly held beliefs. But when I look at the limited amount of time available for the legislative process each year and the actual costs to have a legislative body, it is very discouraging. It would be refreshing to see fewer legislative proposals and more time spent on thorough analysis of issues and discussion of substance. We shouldn’t be judging the performance of our representatives on the number of bills they write or sponsor.”

Those who have suggestions for future Cafe Society topics or want more information may contact Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.