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A traveling legislature
June 18, 2014 - Craig Howell
The West Virginia Legislature will be making another trip out of Charleston this summer, and I hope it is a sign of things to come in the future.
On Tuesday, as reported by the Associated Press, House Speaker Tim Miley announced a three-day interim session would be held in Bridgeport, W.Va., with sites including the Bridgeport Conference Center, in August. Plans also will include stops at sites in Harrison, Marion and Monongalia counties.
You might remember last year, as part of the celebrations of West Virginia's sesquicentennial, a similar interim session was held in Wheeling, with legislators meeting in Independence Hall and other sites surrounding the city.
It's good for our state's leaders to take such action, and I would encourage them to look at making this a permanent tradition in West Virginia. The Mountain State, while relatively small compared to others, is quite diverse in its geography, people, economy and culture. The lifestyles, positives and negatives of the Charleston area, for example, aren't going to necessarily exist in the southern coalfields, the Morgantown area or either of the panhandles.
While each area has its representation in the Legislature, first-hand experiences tend to provide a better understanding of a situation, and by taking time — even if it's only once a year — to visit a different area of West Virginia, perhaps our lawmakers would have an easier time seeing how their decisions affect the people of this state.
A similar decision in Ohio in recent years seems to be working well, as Ohio Gov. John Kasich has opted to hold his State of the State Address in a different city each year. The first trip for the event was in Steubenville, in fact.
By taking the show on the road, it shows our lawmakers are willing to reach out to the people they represent when they are making their decisions. By taking down those walls, even if it's only once a year, it helps to better open some of the more traditional lines of communication and could encourage West Virginians to take a more active interest in the goings-on of our state.
Even in today's age of growing technology and almost instant communication, it's that one-on-one communication that sometimes can still be the most effective. That's something that can't be replicated by a phone or computer, especially they are a few hundred miles away.
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