Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 6, 2013

Gearheart holds out hope for turnpike bill in Senate

CHARLESTON — Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, did not hear the remarks that Senate President Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, made Friday morning to Hoppy Kercheval on the “Metro News Statewide Talk Line” radio show concerning his (Gearheart’s) bill that seeks to eliminate tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike a year after the highway’s construction bonds are paid off in 2019.

In spite of the HB3163’s strong support in the House, where it passed 97-1, Kessler expressed pessimism for the bill’s chances for success when, and if, it reaches the Senate.

“I don’t want to read anything into the Senate President’s comments until I’ve had a chance to listen to the program later this evening,” Gearheart said. “I can tell you that I have reached out to the Senate in an effort to gain success for the bill.”

Gearheart said that the bill was assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee and to the Finance Committee. He said that he spoke to Senator Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, who indicated that he (Gearheart) and Marc Meachum, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, will get a chance to speak to the committee.

“Chairman Beach appeared to be open to hearing what we have to say,” Gearheart said. “I feel good about the bill,” although he added that he doesn’t know how Senator Roman W. Prezioso, D-Marion, will receive the bill if it clears Senate Transportation and makes it to Senate Finance.

“If anything happens, it will happen this week,” Gearheart said. He added that he expects that the coming week will be a busy week for him and other supporters of the turnpike toll removal bill. “I’m a salesman and I’ve been told I have a little time. I plan to use that time,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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