CHARLESTON – Kanawha County Delegate Meshea Poore has asked Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to call a special session to focus solely on legislation to protect the state’s water supply.
“If, in fact, we proceed with ‘business as usual,’ we will miss a golden opportunity to produce legislation that will instill a renewed sense of confidence in the administrative and legislative branches of West Virginia’s governance structure,” Poore stated in the letter. “Placing (the water bill) on the call will provide ample and appropriate vetting opportunities by the respective committees; thus resulting in sound public policy.” More than 20 delegates, including many from the nine counties directly affected by the water crisis, have signed the letter.
“The support of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle illustrates the fact that this is not a political or partisan issue,” Poore said. “This is about protecting our constituents.”
Poore asks that Senate Bill 373, the water protection legislation, be placed on a special session following the regular legislative session, which ends March 8.
Delegate Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, said a special session could coincide with the annual, several-day budget session that immediately follows the regular session. During that time, designated conferees work on finalizing the state budget.
“Legislators remain in town while the budget conferees are working, so holding a special session on the water protection legislation during that period would be at no additional cost to the taxpayers,” Sobonya said. “That way, we can really take some time to deliberate outside the hectic regular session.”
Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell, agreed.
“With all the legislation being considered the last week of Session, I feel it would be the best decision to work on the water bill during Budget Week,” Miller said. “We would have the opportunity to give it our undivided attention.”
Poore noted that the water crisis poses a profound problem with many facets.
“It’s resolution requires more time and concentration than the regular session affords,” she said.
The delegate stated in the letter that she or Kanawha Delegate Mark Hunt, Vice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, are available to discuss the matter further with the Governor.
“Governor Tomblin, on behalf of the many fine people throughout West Virginia, who will greatly benefit from our request, particularly the 300,000 citizens negatively affected by the recent crisis, we thank you for you attention to this worthwhile and important request,” Poore said in the letter.
Among those who have signed Poore’s letter as a show of support is Delegate Mike Manypenny of Taylor County, Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Water Resources, and House Minority Leader Tim Armstead of Kanawha County.
Other delegates who signed are: Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha; Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha; John McCuskey, R-Kanawha; Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha; Ron Walters, R-Kanawha; Danny Wells, D-Kanawha; Troy Andes, R-Putnam; Carol Miller, R-Cabell; Jeff Eldridge, D-Lincoln; Josh Barker, D-Lincoln; David Walker, D-Clay; Jim Butler, R-Mason; Clif Moore, D-McDowell; Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia; Ted Tomblin, D-Logan; Bob Ashley, R-Roane; Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming; Steve Westfall, R-Jackson; John Shott, R-Mercer.