One could argue the customers have spoken with their gambling dollars, which they obviously prefer to spend on video slots and table games rather than live racing.
Road Fund financing: The 2013 House of Delegates may not be remembered for the quality of legislation enacted, but it certainly has been top-notch when it comes to pandering to segments of voters, first with a 94-4 vote to nullify municipal gun ordinances (HB2760), and more recently with a 97-1 vote to repeal tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike when the turnpike's bonds are paid off in 2020.
Nevermind that this Legislature cannot compel action by future legislatures, so even if the bill was enacted this year, future legislatures would get at least seven opportunities to repeal the law. Also nevermind that the proposal blows a $60 million a year hole in the already cash-strapped state Road Fund.
If the bill doesn't die in the Senate, a gubernatorial veto seems certain.
Instead of giving Mercer County residents false hopes about someday being able to drive to Charleston toll free (Isn't it interesting how complaints about the tolls diminish the farther north you go on the Turnpike?), the Legislature should be concerned that the Division of Highways is about $1 billion a year short of what is needed to complete and maintain the state road system.
Because of high-mileage vehicles, the state gas tax raises only about $400 million a year, and nobody's eager to increase the state's already comparatively high tax rate. Meanwhile, a bill that passed the Senate to study an alternative of taxing vehicles based on the miles traveled (SB354) faces an uphill battle in the House.
Finally, I've had several inquiries, the latest from former Sen. Jim Humphreys, about whether I had intentionally or inadvertently omitted Martha Walker from the list of great women in the state Senate in 1990.
To set the record straight, I would certainly not intentionally leave Martha off of any list. The reality is that she did not begin serving in the Senate until 1993.
True story: Of all the people in the Capitol, the only person Tom Searls was afraid to talk to was Walker. Seems the first time he interviewed her (she was then DHHR secretary), using his customary interrogation style, which including jabbing his pen in the direction of the interviewee to emphasize points ... she simply grabbed the pen out of his hand and kept it.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.