Saturday, February 18, 2006

With State Running 9-Figure Budget Surplus, Fayette Delegates Seek to Tax Bottled Water

A tax on water. We in West Virginia have long known that someday, someone would propose this tax. This week, Delegates David Perry and John Pino, both D-Fayette, have proposed taxing bottled water to support expanded academic offerings at WVU-Tech in Montgomery.

Thanks to the nation's third highest state tax burden per dollar of per capita income, our state treasury is running a surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars this year. Yet, to support a local program, these two delegates seek to tax one of the most basic necessities of life. In a state where far too many people still do not have public water service and must purchase bottled water for personal consumption by necessity, we now face a proposed tax on bottled water.

To stymie calls for tax relief, leaders of the Ruling Party have put an equal damper on new spending programs. So now, left with no access to surplus funds and few things left to tax, some of our legislators want to tax the water we drink.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Senate to Come to the Rescue, Save House Dems from Marriage Vote Fallout

Two days after the House of Delegates effectively killed House Joint Resolution 106, the House version of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and forbidding the courts from requiring the Legislature to establish civil unions, the Senate has come to the rescue of their colleagues in the other body.

Senate Joint Resolution 12, sponsored by Senator Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, and 22 other senators, may far a much better chance of passing the Senate than the House version does of passing the House. SJR 12 has been referred to both the Judiciary and Finance committees--unusual for a proposal not affecting fiscal policy.

The number of sponsors alone constitutes the required 2/3 of the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment, if the amendment reaches the floor for a vote. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, is among the cosponsors, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, is not. Unless the Democratic senators are more willing to buck their leadership than their colleague sin the other body, Kessler now wields sole control over whether this amendment will see the light of day in the Senate.

If the Senate does pass SJR 12, it will still be up tot he same House of Delegates committees and their chairmen to decide whether the people of this state will have the opportunity to vote on prohibiting any court in the future from following the lead of their counterparts in Massachusetts and mandating same-sex marriage or those in Vermont who ordered the creation of a "civil union" system that conveys marriage in everything but name to same-sex couples.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

House Dems Collectively Commit Career Suicide: Near Party-Line Vote in WV House Defeats Defense of Marriage Amendment

The West Virginia House of Delegates today voted against discharging from committee a proposed constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage; 35 members voted for discharge, 63 against. House Constitutional Revision Committee Chairman Joe Talbott, D-Webster, will not permit the proposed amendment to receive a hearing. Indeed, Talbott has refused to hold a single meeting of this committee since January 2005.

House Majority Leader Rick Staton, D-Wyoming, said this measure was just election-year pandering by Republicans and that the state statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman negates the need for a constitutional amendment. Huh? A lawyer of 20 years' experience should know that nothing short of a constitutional amendment can protect a statute from being overturned at some point in the future by activist judges--as was done 2 years ago in Massachusetts.

Are the Dems oblivious to reality? They have just handed control of the House of Delegates after the November election to the GOP on a silver platter unless they reverse course in the next month.

The AP is now reporting:

Gay marriage amendment push fails

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The House of Delegates rejected a bid Wednesday to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that targets same-sex marriage, which is banned under a 2000 state law.

With two absent, a largely party-line vote of 35-63 defeated an attempt to have the necessary resolution bypass the House's Constitutional Revision Committee.

Supporters argued that the state Supreme Court could someday overturn the law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Four gay and lesbian couples challenged the law in 2004. The justices rejected their petition on a 3-2 vote.

"Courts throughout the country are attacking statutory enactments on the definition of marriage,'' said Delegate Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, who led the effort. "It's very important that we do this.''

Three states -- Massachusetts, Hawaii and Vermont -- have seen their high courts order equal treatment for same-sex couples. Hawaii has since amended its constitution to ban gay marriage, while Vermont created civil unions that are not recognized in most other states.

Armstead and other House GOP members of the constitutional committee said they chose the motion because so far this session, the panel has failed to meet. One of 10 minor committees that typically only meet on Wednesdays, the committee had canceled that morning's meeting.

Its chairman, Delegate Joe Talbott, called the move to discharge House Joint Resolution 106 from his committee "largely symbolic.''

"To imply that what's already the law in West Virginia is not sufficient, to me is questionable,'' said Talbott, D-Webster.

Other Democrats suggested the move smacked of election-year politics. All 100 House seats are on the ballot this year.

"There are any number of issues that this house fails to take up that would mean more to the voters in the state,'' said Delegate Carrie Webster, D-Kanawha. "This is simply, with no disrespect meant, political pandering... Let's call it what it is, and let's call it a day.''

That prompted some Republicans to counter that their constituents have clamored for such an amendment.

"If it is pandering, then I'm happy to be pandering to people in West Virginia and people in my district,'' said Delegate Craig Blair, R-Berkeley. "We're doing exactly what the people would expect of us.''

But one of the resolution's co-sponsors was among those urging the discharge motion's defeat.

"I'm extremely sad with the motion that's been made,'' said Delegate John Pino, D-Fayette. "I'm sorry with the time that's been taken up on this.''

With Delegate Robert Schadler, R-Mineral, absent, all 31 Republicans present voted for the motion. They were joined by Democratic delegates Eustace Frederick of Mercer County, Tom Louisos of Fayette County, Tim Miley of Harrison County and Dale Stephens of Cabell County.

Say hello to a Republican majority in January 2007.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Liberals Go for the Kill Over Cheney Hunting Accident, Incensed that Small-Town TX Newspaper Gets the Story Before the WH Press Corps

We've all heard by now of Vice President Dick Cheney's tragic hunting accident on Saturday. As of this writing, the victim, Harry Whittington, continues to have a favorable prognosis for recovery.

First, the liberals were upset that this story was not immediately called in to the media even before the ambulance was called. Then, a reporter for a local newspaper in Texas got the story first. The mighty White House press corps was scooped on the story of the VP's hunting accident by a local reporter in TEXAS--TEXAS!!! Can you imagine how much disdain the Washington media have for Texas? Why, who does this scumbag down in Texas thing she is to scoop us on the big story of the week? Does she not know we're the White House press corps and all news relative to the President and VP must first go through us?

NBC White House correspondent David Gregory needs to cool his heels before he has a stroke or goes mental. He just cannot control himself at these daily press briefings. He blew a gasket when Scott McClellan told him this story is not all about David Gregory but instead about the Vice President and his injured friend.

Having been raised in West By God Virginia, it's clear some basic rules of gun and hunting safety were not followed on Saturday. However, since I was not there, I will not join the speculation into the exact course of events or apportionment of blame. Any hunter, gun owner, or someone who knows a hunter or gun owner knows that you never shoot until you're absolutely certain of what your target is and what lies beyond your target. We also know that when you're hunting with someone, you should make sure they always know your position and announce your movements before moving about.

Now, of course, the press thinks they've got Dick Cheney nailed. They think they've now got the goods and that the VP should be impeached and imprisoned for not having the proper state hunting stamp for quail. Cheney had a valid Texas hunting license and--because of an error by one of his assistants--two federal migratory bird stamps instead of a federal migratory bird stamp and a TX state quail stamp. Yes sir, the VP's paperwork error will finally get him. Riiight.

Just remember, would you rather have Dick Cheney as your hunting partner or Ted Kennedy as your chauffeur?