Local officials set legislative goals
by Jazz Clark
The Morgan County Commissioners met with elected officials from Berkeley and Jefferson counties last month to discuss their goals for this winter’s session of the West Virginia Legislature.
Legislators will hold a one-day organizational session on Wednesday, January 9, and will begin this year’s regular 60-day session on Wednesday, February 13.
When tri-county officials met at Blue Ridge Community College in Martinsburg on December 3, they decided the most important issue facing the region and state is jail costs.
“Morgan County is tackling the jail bill issue with the newly established Community Correction Board and community service,” said Morgan Commission President Stacy Dugan.
The commissioners recently bought a 14-person van for expanding the community service program, under which minor offenders do community work instead of jail time.
The Eastern Panhandle spends over $5 million yearly on the jail bill. They decided to focus on the need for more drug treatment, as 70% to 80% of prisoners are there due to drug offenses.
Other topics touched upon were reducing 911 emergency fees through various legislation, requesting more money for workman’s compensation for volunteer firefighters, and increasing the Homestead Exemption property tax break for senior citizens and handicapped home owners.
The Morgan County delegation expressed appreciation to the other counties for their cooperation with Cacapon State Park renovation plans. Senate Bill 362 authorized bonds to be issued for improvements to the park.
Dugan said she would like to hold such summits more to stay connected with other county governments and legislators.