CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia officials are warmly welcoming an offer from three western Maryland counties to join the Mountain State. Maryland delegates and senators who represent Garrett, Allegany and Washington Counties want to secede to West Virginia.

Those counties border the Eastern Panhandle.

Western Maryland lawmakers believe their interests are not being well represented at the State Capitol in Annapolis. Today Governor Jim Justice said he’d welcome them with open arms.

“You would absolutely see greatness going on all around you. In other words what you would see, you would see job opportunity like crazy, with the chance to live in paradise. And I mean it. I mean it,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

Governor Justice says West Virginia’s historically low unemployment, and continued highway construction are indications of an economic comeback, in which the western Maryland counties could share. Representatives of the Eastern Panhandle say those three counties have a lot in common with West Virginia anyway.

“But in reality our communities crossover. And this is a fit that would work very well for the people in both West Virginia and Maryland,” said State Sen. Craig Blair, (R) Berkeley – Senate President.

“They said, ‘You know, we think this is what’s good for our people back here. We want to become part of West Virginia. We see what’s going on in West Virginia,” said Del. Gary Howell, (R) Mineral.

The move would require action by both state legislatures and Congress, in addition to a voter referendum in the three Maryland Counties. Experts say passing all of these steps could be challenging.

“Governor Justice says he will move full-steam ahead on this, eventually calling a Special Session of the Legislature to pass a resolution in favor of annexing the three Maryland Counties,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.