Jan 23, 2012- New Push for W.Va. Lieutenant Governor

By: Michael Hyland
By: Michael Hyland

Support appears to be growing to create a lieutenant governor in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) - West Virginians would elect a lieutenant governor under a proposal under consideration at the state Legislature.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced the measure Monday.

The West Virginia Constitution now calls on the Senate president to act as governor during vacancies. The proposal aims to create a smoother succession process.

It first needs the approval of two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Delegates. A majority of state voters must then agree to amend the Constitution and create this new office.

A second measure introduced Monday addresses succession a different way. This House bill would deal with cases in which the governor or other statewide elected executive branch official becomes temporarily or permanently disabled. It would have the deans of the state's three medical schools evaluate such cases.

There have been a few main concerns among lawmakers as they've debated the idea of a lieutenant governor over the last year or so.

The first: would they do anything? In some states, the main job of the lieutenant governor is to cast tie-breaking votes in one chamber of the legislature or simply to wait around to become governor if necessary. Lawmakers wanted to ensure that if this position is created in West Virginia that the person who fills it actually does something to earn their government paycheck.

Another issue: what should their job be? Lawmakers seem to agree the lieutenant governor should head some sort of government agency not only to earn their keep, but to learn more about the workings of government. But then if they do need to start serving as governor, who takes over their responsibilites?

One more issue: how should they be chosen/elected? In some states, such as Kentucky, the lieutenant governor runs alongside the governor and is elected with him. In others, such as Virginia, the lieutenant governor is elected independently of the governor. Therefore, that person may not be of the same political party/philosophy/ideology as the governor. That happened in Virginia most recently in 2005 when Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) were elected.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia's House of Delegates is supporting a 25-year tax break aimed at luring a huge new chemical plant.

With one nay vote, the House passed the tax break proposal from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to the Senate on Monday.

The measure would slash property taxes for any business that invests at least $2 billion to build a cracker.

These chemical plants convert a byproduct from Marcellus shale gas drilling into a compound widely used by industry.

The House suspended its rules to allow a vote on passage ahead of schedule.

The proposal would apply to non-real estate property. West Virginia is among several Marcellus-drilling states in the running for at least one of these plants. Industry groups estimate a cracker would bring 12,000 jobs to West Virginia.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Tomblin administration officials are flying to Houston this week in West Virginia's quest for a chemical plant that promises to create thousands of jobs.

That's what House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White says now that lawmakers are poised to pass a major tax break for luring this facility.

The House of Delegates voted on the bill ahead of schedule Monday to advance it to the Senate.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed slashing property taxes for 25 years to secure the construction of one or more cracker plants. A cracker converts a byproduct from Marcellus shale gas drilling into a widely used chemical compound.

Administration officials declined to comment Monday. Energy giant Shell is located in Houston. It and another company are expected to build crackers in the region.

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