The state legislature completed its work Thursday in a special session called by the governor one day earlier.

The House of Delegates agreed to waive the constitutional rule and pass a magistrate pay raise bill, spending bill and a state Tax Dept. supported bill in less than one hour.

The most discussion came on the magistrate pay raise bill that will increase the salaries for magistrates in six counties to the upper level pay that magistrates in larger counties receive, approximately $57,000. The bill also calls for a study of the entire system by an outside group that will give recommendations on whether changes should be made.

House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, D-Kanawha, voted against the bill calling it premature. He says some magistrates shouldn’t be given raises before the study is done.

The bill also says all lower-tier magistrates will receive the higher-tier pay beginning in 2017.

House Majority Leader Brent Boggs says magistrates in four of the six counties lost pay beginning this year because their counties lost population. The bill restores those salaries. He says the study will be beneficial for future moves.

“So we can act accordingly and look at how we can redistribute and help the entire system be more efficient and more accountable budgetarily to our taxpayers,” Boggs said.

Armstead maintains in a tight budget year the state shouldn’t be giving raises to elected officials.

“We’re cutting 75 million dollars out of our budget as we speak,” he said. “We didn’t give teachers a raise. We didn’t give other state employees a raise, retirees a raise.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Miley told fellow House members they can expect to make what could be tough decisions in the future about the distribution of magistrates.

“I would hope that this body no matter what those recommendations are and whose counties they affect will implement them,” Miley said. “The National Center for State Courts is considered the non-partisan experts in this area.”

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he’s looking forward to the study results, which are due Dec. 2014.

“Rather than keeping every magistrate (in each county) and adding new ones over the years, we’ll be able to shift the service area a magistrate serves in,” Tomblin said.

State lawmakers needed 65 days to complete their regular session, budget session and special session.

 

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  • Employed Now

    The economy is getting better I am glad the legislature has moved on to more important things like raising the pay of elected officials...have a degree and years of progressive job experience ..applied for over 250 jobs over the past 14 months and finally just got a job this week as housekeeper assistant making $8.80 an hour (40 hours a week) after taxes and insurance I will see $241 a week...down from $30,000 a year in 2009..and will still have student loans to pay after I save enough money to file for bankruptcy on my other debts from last three years of unemployment and near minimum wage part time jobs…went from credit rating of 800 to 300…oh since I have applied for every job at WVU and WVU Hospitals for two years now with no luck I would like to return my degree to WVU for the $30,000 I paid for it since it is worthless according to their own Human Resources office…WVU Hospitals successfully sued me for medical bills even though I have no money and they said they can come get my 15 year old car that has 250,000 miles on it and sell it to pay off some of the bills…please do you will end up spending more money towing it than it is worth…I’m glad I live in the economic oasis of Morgantown where (part time minimum wage jobs are plentiful) or I might still be unemployed…I do feel sorry for the poor Magistrates in smaller counties who were only making $51,000 and am glad that the legislature raised their pay by $6,000 a year to $57,000…after all you do have to have a High School diploma now to be a Magistrate and they could take their High School diploma to the private sector and get a higher paying jobs flipping burgers at McDonalds...how about more pay raises for Huggins and Holgs too.