Summersville Lake takes step towards becoming State Park, House suspends rules to advance eight bills

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The calling of a Special Legislative Session, and the suspension of the constitutional-rule requiring that bill proposals be read on three different days led to what Gov. Jim Justice called, “An opportunity to officially designate the first new West Virginia State Park in over 30 years.” 

HB 124 – which seeks to re-establish Summersville Lake as a designated State Park – was introduced, voted upon, and passed through the House of Delegates on Sunday, all in under five minutes. The bill was sponsored by House Speaker. Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, with co-sponsors Heather Tully and Caleb Hanna – Nicholas County’s two Republican delegates – as well as Del. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha.

During his explanation to members in the House Chamber, Del. Gary Howell, R-Mineral, referred to HB 124 as being a, “Once in a lifetime opportunity to turn one of the state’s most iconic areas into a State Park,” adding that the property will be “transformed into a premiere outdoor adventure park.” It was further explained that necessary site-work would be performed through a private/public partnership, and the project would require no additional funding allocations.

“I would urge unanimous passage of HB 124,” Tully said, immediately preceding voting. “I don’t think it’s a secret that dedicated, committed leadership is essential to drive progress and development. The Summersville-area has certainly been blessed with an abundance of capable leaders throughout the years.”

“It is my belief that the U.S. 19 corridor is on the cusp of a new future for tourism for West Virginia,” Tully added. “I am thankful for the dedication of the Department of Tourism, and the Division of Natural Resources for this project.”

In total, the House of Delegates suspended the constitutional rule of three readings eight times on Sunday. In a statement released by Justice’s office Sunday afternoon, the governor said, “The Special Session I’m calling today has some really important items for our Legislature to consider, like increasing the salaries of our correctional officers, and clarification to our personal property tax cut.” While the re-establishment of Summersville Lake as a designated State Park does present potentially significant economic benefits, the bill’s inclusion on the agenda of a declared Special Session is questionable. 

Should HB 124 be signed into law, Summersville Lake will become West Virginia’s 26th State Park, and the first to be established since 1990.

Additional bills passed during the House of Delegates’ Sunday rule-suspension  include:

  • HB 112, which seeks to correct errors in the child support formula.
  • HB 113, which relates to the Department of Environmental Protection’s regulatory system.
  • HB 114, which seeks to decrease the PEIA subsidy appropriation for FY2024.
  • HB 115, which seeks to appropriate $55,847,110 as State Aid for Schools.
  • HB 116, which seeks to amend funds allocated from general revenue to the State Aid for Schools fund.
  • HB 125, seeking to clarify that personal property taxes paid in full prior to January 1, 2024 are eligible for the tax credit.
  • HB 144, which seeks to define Potomac State College as a community college for the purposes of participation in the Learn and Earn program. 

RealWV will provide updates regarding the status of HB 124, as well as the other bills passed Sunday by the House of Delegates, as additional information is made available.

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