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West Virginia legislative briefs

February 27, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

Berkeley Commission expansion bill alive



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill on Monday to allow Berkeley County residents to decide whether to expand the County Commission from three to five members, local lawmakers confirmed.

But Del. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said procedural rules now will have to be suspended in order to allow more than one reading of House Bill 3269 in a single day and a floor vote by Wednesday, the deadline for action on legislation originated by delegates. Three readings are required. The same deadlines apply in the Senate, which would have to vote on the measure by the end of the 60-day session - at midnight March 10.

"I still think it will pass," Blair said.




Bar hour bill appears dead, sponsor says



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Legislation that would allow residents of West Virginia counties that border neighboring states to decide whether to close alcohol-serving establishments at an earlier hour all but died Monday, the bill's lead sponsor said.

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"This is the furthest it's ever gone," Del. John Overington said, confirming the bill was read on the House floor for the second of three times on Monday, but then diverted to the House calendar from the special calendar by the House Rules Committee. Bills on track for passage are typically placed on the special calendar.

Before the Judiciary Committee passed the bill last week, Overington said he agreed to allow substitute language that exempted Charles Town Races & Slots and the state's other three racetrack/gaming centers from an earlier closing time set by county voters.

But concerns by lawmakers from adjoining counties remained, Overington said.

"If the border county passes it, then you would have people going to the next county in to drink," Overington said.

Though now considered a dead bill, Overington believes lawmakers will agree to study the issue and he thinks that might result in a proposal to close alcohol-serving establishments statewide at a time closer to those of neighboring states.

Also sponsoring the bill were delegates Jonathan Miller, R-Berkeley; John Doyle, D-Jefferson; Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson; Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson; Craig Blair, R-Berkeley; Walter Duke, R-Berkeley; Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire; and Majority Leader Joe DeLong, D-Hancock.

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