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Two bills see action in West Virginia Senate

March 29, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Two bills — one to free up $100 million for public sewer treatment plant upgrades to meet Chesapeake Bay cleanup requirements and one to protect commuter train service for Eastern Panhandle riders — saw action Friday in the West Virginia Senate.

Senate Bill 596, the Chesapeake Bay appropriation, heads to the House of Delegates, where it is assured of passage, said state Sen. Herb Snyder D-Jefferson/Berkeley.

“This is the governor’s bill,” he said.

Twelve plants in seven of the eight Eastern Panhandle counties that feed into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will have access to the $100 million beginning in January, Snyder said.

All told, upgrades to the 12 plants will cost $248 million, so $100 million will go a long way to meeting the costs. Local funds, grants and user fees will pay the local shares, he said.

Seven of the 12 plants are in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, including four in Berkeley County and the cities of Martinsburg and Charles Town. Shepherdstown already has upgraded its plant and will be eligible for a payback of 50 cents on the dollar, Snyder said.

“That’s a tremendous savings,” he said.

Most of the jurisdictions already have applied for the funds.

Senate Bill 103, the Commuter Rail Access Act, had its first reading, Snyder said. “This is the first time it’s gotten this far on the Senate floor,” he said.

It calls for West Virginia to give CSX Railroad a $730,000 tax credit each year for MARC service to the Eastern Panhandle. The Brunswick line of the MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) train takes Panhandle riders daily from Martinsburg to Union Station in Washington, D.C., with stops in Duffields and Harpers Ferry.

The bill has been around for four years. Now that it’s had its first reading, “We anticipate that it will pass Tuesday,” he said.

If signed, the bill will create a formal agreement between Maryland and West Virginia, Snyder said.

“It puts West Virginia on the table,” he said.

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