The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 10, 2013

Amendment game


— One of the oldest political tricks known in Legislative chambers is being played in Charleston just a few days before the close of the West Virginia Legislature’s 2013 regular session.

Legislation that would grant more local decision-making control to cities and towns has been already approved by the Senate after a pilot program of “home rule” proved effective in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling.

Lawmakers seemed set to extend the program for those four locations and give more municipal leaders the same authority by expanding it.

That is until Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, offered up an amendment to the “home rule” bill aimed at repealing municipal gun control ordinances. It’s an effort to try and force the upper chamber to act after Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, put the skids to it a few weeks back following a threat that was made to Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, implying that he either pass it out of the Government Organizations committee he chairs or else.

Kessler was quick to say legislators wouldn’t be intimidated and quickly sent the message that supporters of the bill could forget about it for this year.

We agree that there is no place for intimidation when it comes to discussing and deciding on laws.

However, Kessler’s stance has obviously made some members of the House, which overwhelmingly backed the gun ordinance repeal measure, happy. So some have decided to amend it, Lane in particular, to the “home rule” bill.

While Lane certainly has the right to offer the amendment, we believe each piece of legislation should be allowed to stand on its own merits and be considered.

Discuss it and vote it up or down.

Now, however, a program that has made it easier for cities to streamline business rules, reduce blight and improve finances — among other things — appears to be facing a potential problem.

That would be a shame and it would be a sign of ineffective leadership.

Good laws shouldn’t be held hostage.

Maybe Lane and Kessler should get together and have a talk about the gun ordinance repeal and see what can be done because right now its a lose-lose for everyone.