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Randy’s Dream returns; Senate invites Frederick County, Va., to join WV

MORGANTOWN — Preston County residents filled the state Senate galleries in Charleston Monday morning to support the return of the “Randy’s Dream” secondary road repair bill. Representing the We Stand United for Better Roads Committee, they also turned in a petition with about 7,500 signatures expressing their dissatisfaction with the state of the roads.

The Senate also unanimously approved a resolution to remind Frederick County, Va., of an open invitation to leave its mother state and join its breakaway neighbor.

Randy’s Dream

“Fix the Dang Roads” was a frequent refrain during the 2019 session, from Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker, and others. His Randy’s Dream bill, SB 522, which incorporated a related House bill, created a Special Road Repair Fund supported by severance taxes and an injection from the Rainy Day Fund.

It passed both chambers unanimously but fell to a veto. Gov. Jim Justice said its plan to have the Division of Highways, county commissioners and legislators collaborate to create a secondary road projects priority list encroached on executive authority.

But Smith remains undaunted and took to the Senate floor Monday morning to announce the resurrection of the bill, this time as SB 315. It again creates a Special Road Repair Fund, launched with a $200 million draw from the Rainy Day Fund, and supplied by 2% of severance tax income on coal, oil and gas, limestone and sandstone.

Sen. Charles Trump

With the veto in mind, it calls on the Highways commissioner to form a working group to develop criteria for prioritizing secondary road projects. It also enables the DOH to engage with private contractors for certain maintenance activities.

Smith is lead sponsor. Transportation chair Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, is a co-sponsor.

Smith acknowledged that the current administration is making a renewed effort to get the secondary roads in shape. “But once we’re gone or I’m gone or he’s gone, there’s nothing in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

He urged the members to take a look at a PowerPoint presentation he’d assembled from a Preston County pothole tour last weekend and reminded them that a survey showed that the state’s horrible secondary roads ranks Number 2 among the chief concerns about the state.

He thanked the Prestonians for coming to the Capitol and told them, “Keep on fighting for those roads.”

The petition says, “Factually, we have heard all of the political talk and excuses and we organized Our Committee, met regularly, completed our assignments, and made our voices heard to our ‘Elected Employees’ with our level of dissatisfaction and poor workmanship within the Department of

Highways, District No. 4. We have become overwhelmed with vehicle repairs, potholes due to neglect, and the waste of OUR hard-earned tax dollars!”

The petition criticizes Justice’s veto of SB 522 and the “lack of ‘Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency’ by our Department of Highway.”

Frederick County resolution

Judiciary chair Charles Trump, R-Morgan, is sole sponsor of SCR 2, which invites Frederick County to consider joining the state.  Frederick is Virginia’s northernmost county and forms the triangle around which the Panhandle counties of Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson wrap.

Trump outlined some of the history behind the resolution.

Frederick County was formed in 1743 and included all the territory that is now the Eastern Panhandle. In 1754, Hampshire County, West Virginia’s oldest county, was carved out; Hampshire was then further subdivided, as was Frederick.

As part of the process that created the state in 1862, the Restored Government of Virginia granted consent for Berkeley, Jefferson and Frederick counties to join West Virginia if the voters of those counties agreed to do so, Trump said. Berkeley and Jefferson joined, but Frederick never got around to a vote.

An 1870 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Berkeley’s and Jefferson’s entry into West Virginia indicated that the voters may decide “whenever” they choose, and that “whenever” remains in effect for Frederick.

The resolution says, “There remain, as there have always been, feelings of deep affection for Frederick County and for her inhabitants by and among the citizens of West Virginia, and in particular by and among the citizens of those counties in West Virginia which may be regarded as the children of Frederick County.”

It notes that Frederick would be entitled to six delegates in the state House, along with two senators. It also notes that “the counties which are the children of Frederick County, and the citizens of those counties, have pined for reunion with their mother county and prayed that she might join them in the state of West Virginia.”

If also adopted by the House, the resolution would be sent to Frederick’s Board of Supervisors. If it accomplishes nothing else, Trump said, it will remind them “we have great affection and high regard for them.”

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