02 March 2010

Legislature 2010: Manchin Agenda

All 18 of Gov. Joe Manchin's non-budget agenda proposals have cleared committees in advance of Wednesday's deadline for the House and Senate to exchange their bills.

Fourteen of those measures have already crossed over from one chamber to the other, with the remaining four slated for votes in the next two days.

The closest vote so far has been Monday's 71-24 roll call by which the House advanced one of the governor's two measures aimed at local governments.

The legislation "would allow Huntington and other cities to attach a lien on insurance proceeds to help clear away debris from burned-out buildings where the owner abandons the property," the Herald-Dispatch reports.

Passage followed unsuccessful, GOP-led efforts amendments that "would have limited the proposal to a five-year trial period," and "sought to make the city a third party to any mortgage agreement between the property owner and a lender," the Huntington newspaper reported.

Manchin's bill to create "a special office to oversee West Virginia’s fleet of motor vehicles," meanwhile hit a one-day snag involving a constitutional question, The Register-Herald of Beckley reports.

The dispute involves whether this agency's oversight would extend to vehicles of the state's other elected executive branch officers, that article said.

The Beckley paper reports separately on changes to Manchin's bill that would allow the West Virginia Turnpike's agency to operate tolls elsewhere in the state. The Charleston Daily Mail also reports on the Senate Finance amendment to cut the turnpike rate "to $1 per tollbooth for West Virginians living near the toll road."

The Charleston Gazette declares that addition "potentially unconstitutional" in its coverage of the bill. Jim Pitrolo, legislative director for Gov. Joe Manchin, and Parkways Authority bond counsel Roger Hunter both "said the provision would violate the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution," that newspaper reported.

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