CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – When the Legislature gaveled out of at midnight Saturday, it was after a very busy session. In all 294 bills passed this year, one of the largest totals in state history.
But not everything got done.
For example, only one of three bills designed to plug abandoned natural gas and oil wells in West Virginia was approved. There could be as many as 20,000 uncapped wells in the Mountain State, and there are a lot of concerns about the risk of pollution.
“The environmental concern is that the gas if the well is unplugged, the gas can come up and be into the air. It could some in someone’s groundwater. The oil can come up and be on someone’s land,” said David McMahon, WV Surface Owners Rights Organization.
Another bit of unfinished business is the state’s secondary road repair account. While the Senate approved $110,000,000, the House amended the legislation, since the exact source of that money still needs to be found. One lawmaker expressed frustration at a recent fatal accident in her district.
“County officials linked the Bruceton accident to the lack of roadwork in Preston County. We didn’t lose this teenager to drugs or to alcohol, but to the conditions of the roads in Preston County,” said Del. Terri Funk Sypolt, (R) Preston.
One big thing that did get finished was the renewal of Home Rule charters for many of the state’s cities. It allows for more local control and decision making.
“We’ve been able to show that we’re responsible in the way that we that we manage this. It’s successful in the communities. I know that Huntington, we’re having the level of success that we’re able to have, because of home rule,” said Mayor Steve Williams, City of Huntington.
But certainly the biggest item that did not get finished was education reform legislation and pay raises for teachers and school employees.
As for when the education reform and pay raises get done, there’s still no firm date for when the Legislature returns. But they must be done by June 30th because that’s when the fiscal year ends.