Opinion

Columnist’s word for 2014 Legislature: abysmal

A column by Phil Kabler of The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One word that best describes the 2014 regular session of the Legislature: abysmal.

With the possible exception of the Future Fund, the Legislature did little to encourage businesses or families to relocate to the state.

In fact, legislators sent a message to physicians that their professional medical judgment may be second-guessed by laymen, and subject to criminal prosecution.

To families, they sent the message that appeasing the gun lobby takes priority over assuring that children are safe at municipal pools, parks, and recreation centers.

As Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, aptly put it, legislators were so worried about re-election, they went out of their way to appease the gun lobby, pro-lifers, and big Pharma.

Even the Future Fund, in the version that finally passed, has so many triggers that must be met before any severance taxes go into the fund, it will take a heck of an economic boom for any money to be set aside for future economic development, education and workforce development, infrastructure or tax relief.

It’s also probably worth noting that after the governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways spent more than a year studying the woeful condition of state roads, the Legislature took not one step to improve state highways.

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Meanwhile, the scourge of meth-making will continue, after legislation to restrict meth cooks’ accessibility to key ingredient pseudoephedrine got amended and re-amended in the final hours at the behest of Pharma lobbyists.

The bill was one of several put into House-Senate conference committees at impossibly late hours Saturday night…

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