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This week from Charleston

By Staff | Mar 28, 2014

The 2014 session focused on many aspects of government reform. One of the reform bills that made it into law is SB 356. This bill reforms state purchasing and specifically targets abuse of the bidding process. It gives new powers to the Secretary of Administration to rein in agencies that abuse the purchasing laws. It also expands purchasing rules to include state spending of federal funds. The goal is to avoid another ‘routergate’ situation. I hope that this bill helps cut out some of the “add on” purchasing contracts that have been abused too many times by various state agencies. Importantly, one of the other things that this bill does is redirect some of the funds that the state receives under purchasing card rebates. Currently 15.5% of the funds go to fund the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. With all do respect to the Hatfield-McCoy trail, this was a sweetheart deal that needed to be fixed. Under SB 356, that number is cut to 10% and redirects 10% to the State Park Operating Fund. This is good news for state parks that are having a difficult time with funding. The hope is that this avoids adding user fees to our state parks. The Eastern Panhandle delegation all supported this reform bill, with the exception of Delegate Kump of Berkeley County.

I wrote last week about the municipal gun pre-emption bill, SB 317, and have heard from a few people with questions and comments on it. The Governor signed it on Tuesday and it is now law. I predict that the bill will not do what it was intended to do-namely create a uniform law for conceal & carry permit holders across the state. To the contrary, I believe it will create more problems permit holders. I have heard many interpretations of the bill, but one that seems consistent, including from its lead sponsor, is that a permit holder would have to store a weapon when entering a municipal recreation facility. If the facility did not have a secure storage area, then the permit holder could not bring the weapon in. Municipal recreation facilities are not required to have secure gun storage. On the other hand, all municipal facilities will be required to have signs up indicating what their concealed weapon storage policy is. So much for a consistent state policy This bill does not create consistent policy and is not well thought out. I predict we will be back with another ‘pre-emption’ bill within a year or two to fix the problems created by this bill (which were largely created by the pre-emption fixes of the municipal home rule bill last year).

I am pleased to have been invited to speak at the Shepherdstown Community Club on April 8th . Dinner is $15 and starts at 6:30. The location is the War Memorial Building, German and King Streets., Shepherdstown. RSVP is preferred, so a dinner count is available, to Toni Milbourne: email ttpams@comcast.net, or phone 304-702-3026.