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House Gov Org OKs two resolutions inviting much of Virginia to join West Virginia

MORGANTOWN — It’s probably about as likely as the reunification of North and South Korea, or the Romulans and Vulcans, but two resolutions working their way through the Legislature could reunify West Virginia with sizable chunks of its mother state.

House Government Organization took up both resolutions and passed them in divided voice votes.

SCR 2 came over from the Senate and stems from the creation of the state. 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. Berkeley and Jefferson joined, but Frederick never got around to a vote.

Virginia never revoked the permission for Frederick to leave and SCR 2 invites Frederick County to consider joining the state. If also adopted by the House, the resolution would be sent to Frederick’s Board of Supervisors.

Largely a feel-good measure, it didn’t generate all good feelings in Gov Org. Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-Marion, said, “This is a joke.” And many of his constituents feel the same way.

He listed problems the state is dealing with: foster care, declining population, hungry kids and so on. “Let’s get back to worrying about West Virginia and put West Virginians first.”

Delegate Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison, defended the measure. With the state losing population, and possibly a member of Congress, he said, he couldn’t think of a better time to add another county – especially where the thoughts and desires of some Frederick residents may not align well with those of the state government.

HCR 8 goes even farther. It says that many residents of Virginia’s Southside, Shenandoah Valley, Southwestern Virginia and Piedmont believe they pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to enrich the Tidewater and Northern Virginia without proportionate representation or voice in Richmond.

That discontent has been exacerbated, it says, by recent legislation to abridge Second Amendment rights – legislation that repudiates the wisdom of a number of Founders from Virginia. Several county boards and city councils have passed resolutions refusing to countenance the legislation.

Citing the original split, it says, “The longstanding peaceful cooperation between this state and the Commonwealth of Virginia is a sign that such separation, undertaken even under the most challenging and onerous of circumstances, can, with the passage of time, yield lasting results which are beneficial to both sides.”

It goes on, “the Legislature of West Virginia hereby extends an invitation to our fellow Virginians who wish to do so, to join us in our noble experiment of 156 years of separation from the government at Richmond; and, we extend an invitation to any constituent county or city of the Commonwealth of Virginia to be admitted to the body politic of the State of West Virginia. We hereby covenant that their many grievances shall be addressed, and, we further covenant with them that their firearms rights shall be protected to the fullest extent possible under our federal and state constitutions.”

The resolution notes that three steps would be required: Virginia would have to consent; the counties would have to vote; and West Virginia voters would have to have a subsequent vote to admit them.

This one passed with no discussion. It goes to the full House and, if adopted, over to the Senate.

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