We hit the road in early December for CCAWV’s Annual Regional Legislative Roundtables. While we still have two meetings in January, the gatherings we have attended so far have been interesting and productive. The first meeting, held at the Kanawha county courthouse, was very well-attended by county leaders and legislators alike. As our meeting schedule took us to Doddridge, Summers, Harrison, Marshall, and Fayette counties, we were happy to meet many of the new legislators from each region. We had lively conversations with them about CCAWV’s legislative priorities and got their perspectives on the upcoming legislative session. With a massive gap in the state budget looming, this session promises to be a difficult one. We emphasized over and over in these meetings how strained county budgets are, and repeated our legislative mantra ad nauseum: No unfunded mandates, and definitely no roads! We tried to explain how important it is to keep 911 funding in place (and hopefully, give counties some tools to increase revenue streams for 911 if needed). We also went around the room and asked commissioners to share their monthly regional jail bill. Many legislators were shocked to hear just how much counties are paying.
We know that in February, lawmakers will be desperate to find ways to plug the budget gap. It is our hope that these meetings provide an opportunity for us to show legislators why we are so defensive of the scant county revenue sources currently in place.
We will be headed up to Elkins and Martinsburg next month to round out our schedule of roundtables. We would really like to thank all the commissioners, staff, and lawmakers who joined us at the meetings so far. A special thank you to the host counties! As always, as the legislative session draws near, please contact us with any ideas or comments.