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This week from Charleston

By Staff | Mar 15, 2013

This week saw the House vote on its second gun bill of this year’s session. Although the bills’ sponsors were Democrats, I voted no. This bill, HB 2760, takes away the right of counties and certain municipalities including Martinsburg to make their own determination as to whether guns can be permitted on county or municipal property. It also eliminates the ability for local government to make determinations about gun issues at all. I am very concerned about the flood of gun bills and the lack of bills dealing with mental health. What is odd is that I have received a stream of NRA generated emails that state “Your focus should be on strengthening mental health care and improving the quality of data supporting NICS checks (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Do NOT pass more gun laws; instead, work to enforce the more than 20,000 gun laws already on the books.” Despite the NRA’s position, there have been a rash of bills on guns and virtually no bills on mental health or background checks. It may not always make me popular with the members of my own party, but I must do what I think is right.

I am co-sponsoring the MARC train bill on the house side (HB 2879). It is the same bill that Senator Snyder introduced in the Senate. We have do do everything we can to try to protect our MARC commuters from fee hikes. There are over 600 West Virginians commuting by MARC each workday. These folks are hard working people who have chosen to make West Virginia their home, and bring in $5,000,000 in tax revenues each year. Right now West Virginia contributes nothing to the MARC service and relies on Maryland to subsidize MARC service. This bill would allow CSX, which owns the tracks, to take a W. Va. tax credit in lieu of what it currently charges MARC to run the trains on their tracks in West Virginia. We need to work to guarantee that MARC service continues to serve the Eastern Panhandle.