CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill to eliminate the Courtesy Patrol program in West Virginia now heads to the full state House of Delegates.
The House Finance Committee passed HB 2007 Wednesday on a voice vote, sending it to the House Floor.
The bill would do away with the Courtesy Patrol program operated by both the state Division of Highways and West Virginia Parkways Authority, abolish the Courtesy Patrol Fund and transfer any balances remaining in the Courtesy Patrol Fund to the State Road Fund.
Currently, the DOH has a Courtesy Patrol contract with the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, a nonprofit organization based in Beckley, that runs through May 31.
Greg Bailey, a state DOH engineer, told committee members Wednesday he would support keeping a similar Courtesy Patrol program in the state if the current contract is not renewed.
“We probably would like to tweak the way it operates some. We like the Courtesy Patrol and what it provides to the people traveling the road,” Bailey said.
Delegate Mick Bates (D-Raleigh, 30) asked Bailey if they would use DOH workers to form their own program and spend less money.
“I think we could probably do that,” Bailey responded. “We would obviously need to coordinate with the Legislature.”
More than 30 State Police Troopers patrol the roads, according to Delegate Carol Miller (R-Cabell, 16). Miller told Bailey she believes that’s enough.
“It appears to me the Turnpike would remain very safe for people who are traveling it with that many state patrolman, wouldn’t you agree?” she asked.
“That seems logical to me,” Bailey replied.
Courtesy Patrol workers provide free roadside assistance to stranded drivers. Delegates in favor of the bill have previously said local towing companies or AAA could provide much of the help the Courtesy Patrol provides.
If passed, the state could save as much as $5 million annually.
The 2017 Regular Legislative Session runs through Saturday, April 8.