Senate Should Approve Bill

Good intentions should not stand in the way of rectifying injustices. For weeks it has seemed as if precisely that was happening in Charleston, however.

Most West Virginia legislators seem to understand something ought to be done to correct an inequity involving magistrates and their staffs. Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate have advanced bills to accomplish that. But, as we reported a few days ago, the measures are worded differently. For the change to become law, both houses of the Legislature must approve the same bill and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin must sign it.

A two-tier salary schedule is in effect for magistrates and their staffs. Those in less populous counties are paid less.

That does not make as much sense as it might at first glance. In some ways, workloads are higher for magistrates and staffs in smaller counties, because there are fewer court personnel to handle the tasks.

In four counties – Wetzel, Lewis, McDowell and Wyoming – magistrates and their staffs had their pay cut on Jan. 1, because Census figures show their counties’ populations had dropped. Magistrates in those counties are paid $6,375 a year less now, but are doing the same work as before.

Bills to eliminate the two-tier system and to pay all West Virginia magistrates $57,500 a year, with comparable salaries for staff members, have been acted upon in both houses.

But because some lawmakers worry about spending more state money and the appearance of granting some people pay raises, the necessary bill (HB2434) had stalled in the Senate.

Both concerns are laudable. Again, however, the measure should be enacted to change an inequity in how magistrates and their staffs are paid.

State senators should approve HB2434, which already has passed the House. Then, Tomblin should sign it into law.