Guarding Our Area’s Interests

The pace of action in the West Virginia Legislature has picked up, in anticipation of adjournment of the regular session at midnight on April 13. That leaves lawmakers less than two weeks to deal with dozens of important issues.

Already, mischief has reared its head in the rush to get things done. As we have reported, a bill intended to help Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack was mangled beyond the recognition of its sponsor, state Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, last week. And as we also have reported, some bills are being burdened by undesirable amendments.

Kessler’s bill was intended to grant Wheeling Island and other tracks suffering from out-of-state competition some relief from the license fees they must pay to offer table gambling. But state Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, added amendments to the bill designed solely to help a racetrack/casino in his district and the horse racing industry.

Snyder’s amendments should be rejected by the full Senate, of course. But they are just an example of the shenanigans that can plague the Legislature during the last couple of weeks of its regular sessions. Rest assured, there will be more to come – and some of it may affect Northern Panhandle residents adversely.

Fortunately, we have some insurance against that: Kessler. As president of the Senate, he holds substantial power, both politically and through legislative rules, to influence bills. We encourage him to use it, if needed to protect area residents – not to mention all West Virginians – from harm.

Our delegations in the state Senate and House of Delegates, composed of both Democrats and Republicans, should continue their tradition during recent years of abandoning partisan politics and working together for the good of the Northern Panhandle.

Again, rest assured there will be more mischief before the Legislature adjourns, and counteracting it may require solidarity as well as skill.