Swartzmiller to Push for End of Social Security Tax
Delegate to focus on issue once legislative session begins
WHEELING — Delegate Randy Swartzmiller promises to work this session to push Gov. Jim Justice’s initiative to eliminate the state’s tax on Social Security benefits.
Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, intends to focus on the issue as the 2019 legislative session begins in Charleston. He pushed for it while campaigning in 2018, and the Republican Justice also called for it in his State of the State address this week.
“I want to stay on the elimination of the Social Security tax,” Swartzmiller said. “Making it part of the State of the State and passing it are two different things. I will be following that, and helping the governor work his legislation.
“I will probably put in my own bill for another vehicle as a backup,” he continued. “But with the governor’s out there, that’s the one that needs to run.”
Swartzmiller returns to the House this year following a four-year absence. He previously served as a delegate from 2000 to 2014, and he served as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. He has been tapped as vice chairman of the committee for the current session.
He said what first jumped out at him when he got to the state Capitol was the construction that is blocking the rotunda area. There is new leadership, but also familiar faces, he said.
“I’m meeting new folks and seeing old friends,” he said. “Being in the minority versus the majority is different. But everybody seems willing to work with each other. I’m happy about that, and that is how we’re going to move the state forward.”
Most legislators agree the state’s “country roads” and major highways are in disrepair, according to Swartzmiller.
“A consensus we all have is that our roads are all in pretty bad shape,” he said. “And the money is not coming up this way to the Northern Panhandle. The roads issue is going to be a priority this session. I will stay on top of that one.”
Swartzmiller said what he has missed most about being in Charleston is the legislative process and opportunities to improve the condition of the state.
“I’ve missed being able to work on things, and being able to make my part of the state and the Northern Panhandle a little better,” he said. “I like working on legislation, and I’ve missed that. I also missed the people.”
He compared entering the state Capitol to “playing in the Super Bowl.”
“You look up at the dome, and you get a good feeling being able to say, ‘I work here,'” Swartzmiller said. “You never lose that excitement. You think, ‘Maybe today I can make things a little better for West Virginia.'”
He plans to introduce legislation this session to make childhood screenings for dyslexia mandatory in West Virginia. While a light screening is done for the condition, this often isn’t enough to identify signs of dyslexia, he said.
“I’m looking at what other states are doing so we don’t have to re-invent the wheel,” Swartzmiller said. “If a kid can’t see things correctly, they are not going to be able to learn. They need some help on how to understand things.
“We want to bring that to light. We need some type of thorough examination done before the start of school.”
He wonders if children with undetected dyslexic problems are affecting the state’s overall standardized test scores.
“Sometimes they become a statistic that drives down the score in the state,” Swartzmiller said. “It’s not because they can’t learn. It’s because of how they process and see things and can’t get them right.
“There’s plenty to do this session,” he added. “There is no shortage of work.”