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WV Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reviews duties of DOT secretary

By Matt Young, WV Press News Sharing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The duties of the secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation will be spelled out in state code is SB 610 ends up as law this legislative session.

The West Virginia Senate’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the committee’s substitute for SB 610, as well as six concurrent resolutions. 

Senator Charlie Clements

SB 610, introduced on Feb. 10 by lead-sponsor and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, is “relating to duties, powers and responsibilities of the DOT Secretary.” Rather than reading the original bill, General Counsel Marey Casey provided an overview of the committee’s proposed substitute.

“What this committee substitute does is basically just clean up the bill as introduced,” Casey advised. “It also adds a section, with definitions, because the terms weren’t defined elsewhere in that code section. Other secretaries already have their own section that specifies what powers they enjoy. For some reason the secretary of transportation did not.”

Casey further stated: “Where the bill as introduced had powers listed that were just duplicative of what’s already stated, we just left those out of the new section that’s being created, and have just corrected some wording.” 

In response to Sen. Clements asking if this bill “will actually change anything,” Casey said, “I don’t think it changes anything in the way of what the secretary of transportation already does, and their (Department of Transportation) counsel agrees with me. It’s just putting it actually in code.” 

A motion from Vice-chair Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, that the proposed substitute for SB 610 be referred to judiciary and then forwarded to the full senate with recommendation that it be passed was adopted by the committee. 

The next items addressed were Senate Concurrent Resolutions 34, 37, and House Concurrent Resolution 28, which all pertain to the naming of bridges. Transportation and Infrastructure intern Ryan McFarland provided an overview. 

“Senate Concurrent Resolution 34 names a bridge in Upshur County after U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Herman H. Brawner,” McFarland began. “Brawner fought in World War Two, Korea and Vietnam for which he was awarded a Purple Heart with two Gold Stars, and a Bronze Star.”

McFarland then explained that CR 37 “names a bridge in Harrison County the Harrison County Veterans Bridge, honoring residents who have served in the Armed Forces,” and that House CR 28 names a bridge in Braxton County in honor of U.S. Army Cpt. Billy Jake Smith.

“Smith was killed during a second tour in Vietnam,” McFarland said. “He received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.”

All three resolutions were adopted by the committee with unanimous consent, and moved to the full senate with the recommendation that they do pass. 

Next on the agenda was the committee’s substitute for Senate CR 45, pertaining to the naming of a bridge in Fayette County after U.S. Cpl. John D. Doyle, Sr. Doyle, part of a tank crew during World War Two, was killed in action in Italy. 

 McFarland advised the committee that the “substitute names a bridge rather than the road detailed in the original resolution. The committee substitute also makes other corrections, such as the date of birth and spelling of the mother’s name.”

Senate CR 45 was then adopted by the committee with the recommendation that it be passed by the full senate. House Concurrent Resolutions 30 and 59, along with proposed amendments for each, were then explained by McFarland. 

“HCR 30 names a bridge in Putnam County after U.S. Army Pvt. Dallis H. Johnson. Johnson was killed in action in World War Two. The proposed amendment would strike the words ‘World War Two’ from the name of the bridge,” McFarland told the committee, before moving on to HCR 59.

“HCR 59 names a bridge in Mineral County after U.S. Army Warrant Officer James Gilbert Bosley. Bosley was killed in Vietnam in a helicopter crash. The proposed amendment would add the branch of U.S. Army to the bridge name. The amendment also corrects the spelling of the honorees’ name throughout the resolution.”

In response to a question from Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, Committee General Counsel Marey Casey stated that “It’s really just surplus at that point. We either have World War Two Veterans Memorial highways or bridges, or we honor a certain individual.”

Both House Concurrent Resolutions 30 and 59 were then adopted as amended by the committee with the recommendation that they be passed by the full senate. 

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