WVGOV: Tomblin Issues Call for Redistricting Special Session Aug. 1
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By Steven Allen Adams
After weeks of anticipation, lawmakers will return to Charleston, W.Va., on Monday, Aug. 1, to begin work on redrawing the state’s congressional, State Senate, and House of Delegates districts.
Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, acting as governor, issued a call Tuesday afternoon for the special session, which will start when the West Virginia Legislature meets for their monthly interim meetings on Monday, Aug. 1.
“After consulting with both Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Rick Thompson, I have been informed that both chambers will be prepared on August 1 to go into a special legislative session to consider and pass legislation for the redistricting of legislative and congressional districts,” Tomblin said. “Special committees have been diligently working on this important task and I am pleased that they are prepared to proceed now.”
The call for special session comes after leaders in both chambers said they were ready to go to start work on redistricting August 1. Sources have said the redistricting session could be pushed back as late as the second week of August. Stacy Ruckle, communications director for the House of Delegates, and Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley) say both chambers are ready to go.
“As of Friday, (House Speaker Rick Thompson) has said we’re expecting August 1st,” Ruckle said.
“(Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler) and I made it very clear that we want to proceed August 1,” Unger said. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t proceed. It is very important that we get this done and we get it done right. This gives us time and if it has to take time, then that is time well invested. But having these interims we’re in town anyhow, so we might as well start the work and try to get it completed by the end of next week. If not, we’ll just keep on working until we get it done.”
The special session call also comes after Tomblin received criticism Tuesday from his opponent in the Oct.4 special election for governor. Republican businessman Bill Maloney, in a press release, asked “where’s the special session?” He also called for a special session to create regulations for Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
“Despite weeks of talk in Charleston about an early August special session, ‘Temporary Governor’ Earl Ray Tomblin continues to show his lack of leadership on urgent issues like redistricting and comprehensive Marcellus shale legislation,” Maloney said. “I strongly urge Earl Ray Tomblin to call a special session now. West Virginia has several pressing matters that cannot wait until the Legislature finds consensus.”
One reason why rumors of a delay were flying was because some lawmakers are heading to San Antonio, Texas, for the National Conference of State Legislatures‘ 2011 summit, scheduled Aug. 8-11. Unger, who had planned to go, canceled so he could concentrate on redistricting.
“That’s not a good excuse,” Unger said. “We have a job to do and that should be first priority. Not to begrudge anybody who goes to those meetings; they’re very productive and helpful. But maybe that will prompt some individuals to work extra hard to get the work done in a week.”
In March West Virginia received its U.S. Census results for 2010. According to the results, West Virginia’s population grew by 2.5 percent, or 44,650 people, with most of the growth in the north and Eastern Panhandle. Every 10 years states must redraw their congressional and state legislature districts to make sure they provide equal representation.
During next week’s special session, lawmakers will look at reducing the food tax further; reallocating and distributing coal severance tax revenue; passing supplemental appropriations for meth lab cleanups, highway paving/improvements, forensic/substance abuse issues, and more.
The special session will start Monday, Aug. 1, at noon.
- WVGOV: Tomblin Proposes New Marcellus Shale Regulations (with video) (westvirginia.watchdog.org)
- WVGOV: Maloney Calls for Tax Reform, Tomblin Plans Washington D.C. Fundraiser (westvirginia.watchdog.org)
- WVGOV: Tomblin, Maloney Weigh in on Single-Member Districts (westvirginia.watchdog.org)
Posted under Featured, Governor, House of Delegates, Legislation, Legislature, News, Politics, Redistricting, State Senate, Transparency, U.S. House of Representatives, West Virginia.
Tags: Bill Maloney, Earl Ray Tomblin, John Unger, Marcellus Formation, National Conference of State Legislatures, Redistricting, Republican, Rick Thompson, Senate President, Speaker (politics), Special session, West Virginia
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