The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

October 11, 2012

Armstead sees a GOP majority in the House of Delegates

CHARLESTON — Accusing the Democratic leadership of lacking “the political will” to move West Virginia forward, Minority Leader Tim Armstead predicted Wednesday a Republican majority next year in the House of Delegates.

Surrounded by GOP candidates on the steps of the Capitol, the Republican leader said the Democrats have failed to reform West Virginia in the past eight decades they controlled state politics.

Not since 1928 have Republicans wielded a majority of votes in the lower chamber and Democrats have fumbled consistently over those years, he said.

“They are out of touch with the values of West Virginia,” Armstead said at a news conference, rallying support for the Nov. 6 election.

Armstead pointed out all but two of the 65 Democratic delegates voted for Obamacare, adding, “and the people of West Virginia don’t want that.”

Fifty-six of them voted to raise motor vehicle fees by a combined $43 million, while all but three voted to turn $100 million over to casinos for the purchase of new slot machines, “instead of putting it into roads and tax relief,” Armstead said.

“That’s why I believe it’s completely within the realm of possibility that we will be in the majority in the next legislative session,” the Kanawha County lawmaker said.

“We believe that.”

Using a familiar GOP strategy this year, state Chairman Conrad Lucas sought to link the Democrats with President Obama.

“If you vote for a Democrat, you’re voting for Obama and there’s no gray area,” Lucas said.

Armstead outlined the “four walls” of progress he said Republicans would pursue and achieve through a majority in the House.

In addition was a call for fair elections and open government, beginning with a requirement to show a valid ID before casting a ballot.

“If you have to show a driver’s license to simply go in and cash a check in a store, or go into a sporting event, why would you not need to show a driver’s license or produce an identification of some sort to be able to vote?” he asked.

Armstead called for reform in the ethics act, saying there are too many loopholes.

In the first “wall,” he said West Virginia must eliminate the tax on inventory and equipment, viewed by two bipartisan studies as “a job killer.”

“We’ve yet to see in 20 years the political will to do anything about that,” the GOP leader said.

Any revenues lost to counties could be partially offset by using some of the severance taxes paid in Marcellus shale exploration, he said.

In other tax reforms, he called for changes so that seniors get a bigger break in the homestead exemptin to keep abreast with inflation.

On the second “wall,” Armstead charged that the Democratic leadership again has failed to ensure all students are in class a full 180 days.

“The Democratic leadership has not shown the political will to tackle it,” Armstead said.

A recent audit found West Virginia’s education system is among the more over-regulated ones, the minority leader said.

Armstead identified the other two “walls” as the need for a predictable and just legal system and regulatory process, and that includes an immediate court of appeals and a sunset provision in all regulations that must be reviewed in a timely manner.

Without providing specifics, Armstead called for “a more modern system” to finance roads and bridges, and an upgrade in the broadband technology to help attract busnesses.

“We have seen a lack of willingness by the Democrats to move forwad in these areas,” he said.

“We have seen a lack of willingness to even bring them to the floor to debate them and discuss them.”

— E-mail: mannix@

register-herald.comAccusing the Democratic leadership of lacking “the political will” to move West Virginia forward, Minority Leader Tim Armstead predicted Wednesday a Republican majority next year in the House of Delegates.

Surrounded by GOP candidates on the steps of the Capitol, the Republican leader said the Democrats have failed to reform West Virginia in the past eight decades they controlled state politics.

Not since 1928 have Republicans wielded a majority of votes in the lower chamber and Democrats have fumbled consistently over those years, he said.

“They are out of touch with the values of West Virginia,” Armstead said at a news conference, rallying support for the Nov. 6 election.

Armstead pointed out all but two of the 65 Democratic delegates voted for Obamacare, adding, “and the people of West Virginia don’t want that.”

Fifty-six of them voted to raise motor vehicle fees by a combined $43 million, while all but three voted to turn $100 million over to casinos for the purchase of new slot machines, “instead of putting it into roads and tax relief,” Armstead said.

“That’s why I believe it’s completely within the realm of possibility that we will be in the majority in the next legislative session,” the Kanawha County lawmaker said.

“We believe that.”

Using a familiar GOP strategy this year, state Chairman Conrad Lucas sought to link the Democrats with President Obama.

“If you vote for a Democrat, you’re voting for Obama and there’s no gray area,” Lucas said.

Armstead outlined the “four walls” of progress he said Republicans would pursue and achieve through a majority in the House.

In addition was a call for fair elections and open government, beginning with a requirement to show a valid ID before casting a ballot.

“If you have to show a driver’s license to simply go in and cash a check in a store, or go into a sporting event, why would you not need to show a driver’s license or produce an identification of some sort to be able to vote?” he asked.

Armstead called for reform in the ethics act, saying there are too many loopholes.

In the first “wall,” he said West Virginia must eliminate the tax on inventory and equipment, viewed by two bipartisan studies as “a job killer.”

“We’ve yet to see in 20 years the political will to do anything about that,” the GOP leader said.

Any revenues lost to counties could be partially offset by using some of the severance taxes paid in Marcellus shale exploration, he said.

In other tax reforms, he called for changes so that seniors get a bigger break in the homestead exemptin to keep abreast with inflation.

On the second “wall,” Armstead charged that the Democratic leadership again has failed to ensure all students are in class a full 180 days.

“The Democratic leadership has not shown the political will to tackle it,” Armstead said.

A recent audit found West Virginia’s education system is among the more over-regulated ones, the minority leader said.

Armstead identified the other two “walls” as the need for a predictable and just legal system and regulatory process, and that includes an immediate court of appeals and a sunset provision in all regulations that must be reviewed in a timely manner.

Without providing specifics, Armstead called for “a more modern system” to finance roads and bridges, and an upgrade in the broadband technology to help attract busnesses.

“We have seen a lack of willingness by the Democrats to move forwad in these areas,” he said.

“We have seen a lack of willingness to even bring them to the floor to debate them and discuss them.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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