The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 14, 2007

Staggers looks back on first year in House of Delegates

CHARLESTON — Margaret Staggers used a colorful metaphor from the animal kingdom to size up her first year as a freshman in the House of Delegates.

“I really feel like an aging duck that finally found water,” the Fayette County Democrat said, just as the session headed into its final hours.

“I thought it was wonderful. I really felt l’ve helped a lot of people.”

For a newcomer, she managed to steer passage of a bill she crafted on her own — one that eliminates the need to publish estates valued at below $100,000, upon death, twice in a newspaper.

“Right now, the way the code is written, you have to publish twice in the newspaper,” she said.

All estates over $100,000 are exempt from the double publication requirement.

“It was just a quirk in the code, and my brother, Danny Staggers, who practices that type of law, suggested that I try to get this through,” she said.

At first blush, it seemed so easy a cave man could have done it.

But Staggers ran headlong into the legislative process, one that demanded a number of talks with several lawmakers, a seemingly endless stream of explanations.

She was called across the rotunda to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, and Sen. Jon Blair Hunter, D-Monongalia, asked her if the measure was intended to benefit the poor.

“Poor dead people,” she corrected.

“We don’t get any credit?” the senators inquired.

“Not in this life,” Staggers replied.

Life as a legislator is full of ups and downs. On the downside, Staggers failed to see a pet project enacted — a total ban of all-terrain vehicles from all paved roads.

That one failed in the Senate over stiff opposition to a provision that would have barred passengers on ATVs not designed to accommodate them while driving on private land.

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