Earlier in the session, I noted that state newspapers were bucking national trends by having a comparatively strong representation in the legislative press corps.
Four of the five largest circulation papers in the state staffed the session. (The exception, duly noted, was the Ogden-owned Parkersburg News and Sentinel ... hey, they run their papers like their ball club, on the cheap.) Among smaller dailies, the Daily Mail staffed the entire session, while the Martinsburg Journal had a reporter here for the final week.
However, the same can't be said for television coverage. Note that on the Senate floor, there are two locations designated for television cameras. One spot is occupied throughout the session by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, while space to the left of the podium is available for commercial TV stations.
On multiple occasions during the session, Senate doorkeeper Tony Gallo would point out the vacant space where the cameras should be.
So he was doubly taken aback on the late afternoon of the 60th day, when a three-person news crew from WCHS-TV showed up wanting floor access. First, he pointed out, they needed to obtain press credentials; second, he asked where the heck they had been for the previous 59 days.
While commuter rail legislation passed this session (SB103) was touted as a way to assure that MARC train service between the Eastern Panhandle and Washington, D.C. will continue, lead sponsor Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, said the funding mechanism could apply elsewhere in the state; particularly, the Charleston-Huntington corridor.
Given the popularity of the Intelligent Transit bus service between the cities, commuter rail service with Wi-Fi and other amenities certainly could become feasible, especially if gas prices go above $4 and congestion gets worse on Interstate 64.
Finally, speaking of, if all goes on schedule, by the time you read this, I'll be in northwestern Indiana (or outside of Cincinnati, if you're reading the online version when it gets posted) on train 51 headed to Chicago Union Station, as I embark on checking an item off my bucket list, taking the train cross-country ...
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.