The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

March 6, 2013

From the Senate Side

Senate committee to meet in Oak Hill

— The third week of the current regular session of the state Legislature brought increased activities in the West Virginia Senate. The work of the Senate Finance Committee has consisted of a series of budget hearings, where the budget of each department and agency is reviewed and discussed by members of this committee. In working toward the establishment and passage of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, most departments will be required to absorb a 7.5% decrease in spending next year. In my opinion, it would appear that most of these budget cuts can be accomplished without disrupting essential services for the benefit of our citizens. In the future, we must learn to be good stewards of our tax dollars by doing more with less funding support.

Last week, Senator Miller and I were pleased to sponsor a bill requiring the issuance of bullet-proof vests for every law enforcement officer in the state of West Virginia. Many people were surprised to learn that protective body armor is not required equipment for police officers. With the tragic death of two police officers in the last year, we are reminded of the serious dangers found in the law enforcement profession. In my opinion, we have an important responsibility to properly protect those who protect us and help to make us safe in the communities in which we live. The required issuance of this protective equipment for all police officers is good public policy.

The Senate Select Committee on Children and Poverty held a second meeting last week and received considerable statistical information concerning the nature and extent of this serious community problem. I am very pleased to report that this select committee will hold a meeting at the Historic Oak Hill School in Fayette County on Wednesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. I am unaware of any time in the past when a legislative committee has held a meeting outside of the State Capitol in Charleston during any past regular legislative session. For this reason, I am indeed hopeful that persons interested in our children and poverty problems will respond by attending this meeting. To solve this serious problem and secure a brighter future for our children, we must all work together. Your attendance at this meeting would be appreciated.

In conclusion, the Senate Education Committee will be considering the Governor’s Education Bill (SB 359) during a series of meetings this week. Although a number of the provisions in this particular bill have resulted in considerable controversy among our teachers and other educators throughout the State, it is clear that reforms within our current public education system are important to the future of our children. In this regard, I have great respect for our classroom teachers and those who have dedicated their lives to the education of our children. I can assure you that I will be listening closely as this debate continues and will be guided by the principle of doing that which is required to improve our public education system. I can think of no more important issue that will be discussed and acted upon in the coming weeks of the current legislative session.

(Fayette County’s Laird, along with Sen. Ron Miller of Greenbrier County, represents the 10th District in the state Senate.)

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