Proposed Amendments 1, 2 and 4 have a common theme: expanding the power and authority of the Legislature and taking away fundamental rights or separations of powers that have existed since the founding of our country and our state. All three amendments should be defeated.
Amendment 1 is a “sour grapes” amendment because the Legislature got smacked down when it tried to impeach all 5 Supreme Court justices. The House of Delegates did not adopt the Articles of Impeachment in the proper way. The price was a denial of due process to the justices who were impeached, and a specially appointed Supreme Court agreed and stopped the process. Ever since, the Legislature has been stinging over something that was its own fault and could have been avoided.
Impeachments seek to remove a duly elected public official from office. Accused public officials should be afforded the most protections allowed them by both the rules of the Legislature, and the laws of the land. As with any situation when a legal wrong is being committed, courts should be permitted to intervene to correct or stop the violations.
Amendment 2 allows the Legislature to exempt personal property taxes on business and inventory equipment and motor vehicles. Don’t be fooled. It’s about the business and inventory equipment tax.
The current tax is not a disincentive to businesses locating in the state. It didn’t stop Nucor, locating in Mason County with hundreds of jobs averaging over $100,000 per year. It didn’t stop the new electric bus facility in South Charleston, which may lead to hundreds of jobs. Large companies perform extensive due diligence to make location determinations. It’s obvious the business and inventory tax did not deter them from locating in West Virginia.
These taxes almost exclusively go to local governments and will cost them upwards of $600 million. This is funding for schools, local law enforcement, EMS and ambulance services and county government services. Talk about defund the police. This amendment does it. There’s no realistic plan to replace that money, especially during times of lean state budgets.
This amendment gives the Legislature the power to put strings on county appropriations. Counties with popular legislators in leadership positions will get what they asked for, and probably more. Smaller counties and those who have legislators who are not connected to leadership will be left wanting.
Amendment 4 would allow a part time citizen legislature to second guess the decisions of professional education personnel, which policies are already subject to review and approval of a citizen State Board of Education. This is dangerous.
This amendment fully politicizes the education process. If a Legislature doesn’t agree with a policy, it just disapproves it, or more dangerously, substitutes what it, as amateurs, think is the better solution.
Curriculum, class content, courses offered, and even textbooks would be subject to the whims of whichever Legislature was in control. There would be no consistency or regard for genuine education.
The Legislature already has the authority to amend, correct or make certain policies regarding education. This amendment is about gaining complete control.
Do we want a part time Legislature denying fundamental rights to those subject to removal from office? Do we want a part time Legislature to determine how much money county governments receive and how it can be spent? Do we want a part time Legislature to determine what our education policies and curriculum should be? As my Chemistry professor used to say, “Not only no, but hell no,”
These amendments are a blatant power grab that will affect not only the next Legislature, but each of us and future generations.
Stop the power grab. Vote No on Amendments 1, 2 and 4.
Former Majority Leader of the West Virginia House of Delegates, former Prosecuting Attorney for Wyoming County, former Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, and former Director of the Division of Justice and Community Services