With West Virginia’s 2019 legislative session beginning Jan. 9, city leaders across Cabell County wanted to discuss priorities for their cities. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum and Milton Mayor Tom Canterbury all met with legislators Thursday in Barboursville, to lay out
which goals they’re pushing for during the 60-day session.
“It’s incredibly important that we all speak,” said West Virginia House Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell. “You have all these different levels of government and this is what allows us to make sure in the 60-day legislative session, that we can actually accomplish the will of the people and that we can actually make meaningful change for our people.”
Other legislators who attended the meeting included delegates Sean Hornbuckle (D-Cabell), John Mandt Jr. (R-Cabell), Chad Lovejoy (D-Cabell), Matthew Rohrbach (R-Cabell), and Evan Worrell (R-Cabell), as well as state senator Michael Woelfel (D-Cabell).
For the mayors of Huntington, Barboursville and Milton, “Home Rule” legislation is at the top of their priorities. They say it allows each city to make decisions for itself, without dealing with revenue issues.
“We’re looking at the prioritization of home rule, which allows cities to acquire more revenue and that insures that we keep city services solvent,” said Mayor Tatum.
Huntington was one of four cities to try out the Home Rule pilot program about twelve years ago. The program is set to expire June 30, 2019, but everyone in attendance said they plan on supporting its extension.
“When home rule legislation was first being proposed in Huntington, Huntington was considered to be right on the verge of bankruptcy,” said Mayor Williams. “We are the healthiest that we have ever been in Huntington.”
Another major issue the group plans to focus on is broadband expansion, offering Cabell County residents more cable and internet options to choose from.
“I hear every day from my citizens about no competition and no one being able to get anything done with their high-speed internet or cable company,” said Tatum.
“I think I can speak for all of us in this room that broadband expansion is a key priority for every one of us,” said Linville.
Other legislative items discussed included standards that could be enforced for sober living houses, and a possible future recreation facility with artificial turf fields in Barboursville.