THE SPIRIT ASKS: What are key issues for lawmakers in ’13?

With the Legislature set to convene in Charleston in just two weeks, we asked readers on Facebook what issues they want to see the state’s lawmakers focus on during the regular 60-day session.

Pressing issues cited include job creation, fracking, gun rights, gas prices, education funding, teacher pay, taxes and equity in how state revenue is divvied around the Mountain State.

Review these readers’ answers and then weigh in with your own by contacting the Spirit’s editor Robert Snyder at editor@spiritofjefferson by Monday. We’ll publish more responses in our Feb. 6 edition.

Dave Chicchirichi Jr.: “Do everything possible to protect our Second Amendment rights. Some states are passing legislation to do that at the local level no matter what the federal government does. I would like West Virginia to follow [suit].”

Ronda Nickey Lehman: “Stop using salt brine from fracking on our roads for treatment in the winter. The gas companies were just dumping the waste into the rivers. DEP told them that wasn’t a good idea. So the state started buying it from the gas companies, with our tax dollars and spreading it on the roads in the winter. So even though there is no fracking in the Eastern Panhandle, it will still end up in streams and waterways because the state has been so kind as to purchase it and spread it over the entire state.”

Kery Fries: “The Attorney General should investigate gas prices in the EP. Too many gas stations owned by too few companies. Ripe for antitrust concerns, in my opinion.”

Michelle Baker: “Job creation and funding for higher education.”

Connie Hill Knapp: “Increasing salaries for teachers, specifically in counties where teachers can cross state lines for thousands of dollars in more pay.”

Charity Beth Long: “Tourism. As much as the West Virginia Division of Tourism is doing, they should do more to encourage our local governments to invest in the industry. More tourism (in forms other than gambling) brings jobs, businesses, revenue and more.”

Clint Sullivan: “Allow freedom in homeschooling. Make all public worker unions illegal. Lower West Virginia gas tax so fuel prices in West Virginia are competitive with neighboring states which in turn will increase gas tax revenue.”

Kevin Long: “An equitable distribution of state tax revenue that doesn’t disproportionately send tax dollars to less-populated areas.”

Pat Mesich: “Doing away with the personal property tax system. Allow county school boards more leeway in constructing so we can get the kids out of the trailer pods.”

S. Chris Anders: “Restoring the Constitution. The state needs to stand in the way of federal tyranny like warrantless searches.”

Joe Brand: “More health insurance options in West Virginia. Right now as an individual I can buy only from one company. [Also] protect the Second Amendment by telling the federal government via resolution and law that any Federal Gun Control restrictions/bans will be duly ignored.”

Vi Vo Nguyen: “Update the state’s outdated laws and regulations, get rid of ‘nonsense’ laws to help small businesses stay strong and help with job creation.”

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