The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

January 11, 2013

Delegate says no to proposal to add more magistrates

Raleigh legislator unswayed by criteria used to justify jobs

CHARLESTON — A Raleigh County legislator passed up an opportunity to help create new jobs in his district by adding a new magistrate in a bill that got nowhere in a legislative interims committee.

Delegate John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, voted with the majority in killing the proposal before Judiciary Subcommittee A in this week’s January interims.

Like his colleagues in the majority, O’Neal was leery of the uncertain criteria used to justify new magistrates, not only in Monongalia, the target of the original bill, but also in Berkeley, Kanawha, Raleigh and Wood.

As explained to committee members by an attorney, Monongalia ranked fifth in caseload from 2009 to 2011, averaging 3,156 per judge.

The measure was successfully amended by Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, to add the other four counties, but when the final showdown came, the bill collapsed.

Magistrates are paid $80,000, but the expenses don’t end there, and the cost was a major problem for O’Neal and the others.

O’Neal said he was bothered by the fact that the backers couldn’t provide a fiscal note to say just what the overall cost would be, figuring in the staff and all the benefits associated with one magistrate.

“But the judiciary chairman of the Senate (Corey Palumbo) made an estimate that it was going to cost in the neighborhood of $750,000 to $1 million of additional cost to the state, without any clear criteria as to what exists for establishing another magistrate,” the Republican lawmaker said.

“And the argument he made was, are we going to just year after year take the top five counties in population and add a magistrate to them, or is there some criteria for adding a magistrate?”

One estimate given the panel is that each new magistrate, along with an assistant, could run up an annual price tag of $150,000.

O’Neal said he joined with the majority on the panel to kill the legislation.

Siding with him were Palumbo, D-Kanawha, and Sens. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, Art Kirkendall, D-Logan, and Greg Tucker, D-Nicholas.

Ellem was joined in voting for the bill by Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, and Delegates Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, and Clif Moore, D-McDowell.

And like the others, the two-term delegate wondered how extra magistrates can be justified, given West Virginia’s lack of population growth over the past decade.

“We made the suggestion and all supported the idea of a reallocation of existing magistrates so that if there were counties that were experiencing a high caseload, compared to other counties, and some counties that had significantly less caseload, then let’s reallocate the magistrates and therefore bring one of those into Raleigh and the other top five counties,” O’Neal said.

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • snowywalk April is the cruelest month

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Renew W.Va. car registration online

    State residents strapped for time got a break Tuesday when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Acting Division of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Dale announced new DMV online options for renewing vehicle registration.

    April 16, 2014

  • Manchin says mines should speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rainelle Town Council pulls plans to annex roads

    Residents of several communities in Greenbrier County can rest assured they won’t be affected by a proposed road annexation after Rainelle Town Council decided not to move forward with the plan.

    April 16, 2014

  • City and county code enforcement offices separate

    After 10 years of partnership, the City of Beckley and the Raleigh County Code Enforcement offices have decided to part ways.
    Mayor Bill O’Brien said after several meetings with county commissioners, the groups decided to separate.

    April 16, 2014

  • eggy All mine!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 15, 2014

  • State jobless rate inches up in March

    West Virginia’s unemployment rate inched up in March to 6.1 percent.

    April 15, 2014

  • 2 brothers arrested in cockfighting investigation

    A cockfighting bust by the West Virginia State Police has led to the arrest of two Mercer County brothers.

    April 15, 2014

  • Williamson mayor to step down April 30

    Williamson Mayor Darrin McCormick is stepping down at the end of the month.

    April 15, 2014