State police pay-hike bill on the horizon

January 17, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - State Sen. John Unger said he met with Gov. Joe Manchin Monday to discuss developing a three-year pay raise package for West Virginia State Police.

Local officials have pushed to increase pay for state employees, particularly those living in the Eastern Panhandle, because of the higher cost of living there.

Many state employees have been lured to higher-paying jobs in other states, leaving agencies like the state police scrambling to staff shifts.


Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, said no figures have been developed on how much trooper salaries might increase, but he said the intent is to make the state police the best-paid law enforcement agency in the state.

Currently, state police pay is ranked about 16th among pay at other law-enforcement agencies in the state, Unger said.

Unger said Manchin was supportive of the pay raises and would recommend legislation for them.

Manchin officials could not be reached late Monday.

Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, said he had not heard about the pay raise plan but would support it.

"Things are starting to pick up," Tabb said of the 60-day session, which started last Wednesday.

Among other issues gaining interest early in the session is eminent domain, which is the right of government to take private property for government use.

People are growing more concerned about eminent domain following last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling taht says eminent domain can be used for commercial projects, Del. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said previously.

Eminent domain is typically used for roads or utilities, but when it is used for commercial purposes like a discount store, "it strikes a chord with people," Trump said.

States can set their own limitations for eminent domain and Trump has said he wants it only used in West Virginia to further a "public purpose."

Del. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley/Morgan, said Monday he thinks there will be a bipartisan effort to determine how eminent domain will be handled in West Virginia.

Blair said he only wants eminent domain to be used for projects such as roads and utilities, not for commercial projects.

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