Guest column: Legislative session gets an early start

As we begin the legislative session, I am honored to be representing the hard working citizens of Hancock and Brooke counties. It is with great pleasure that I will once again be keeping you updated on important legislation and news for the state and especially the Northern Panhandle.

On Jan. 8, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin delivered the annual State of the State address at the West Virginia State Capitol. He covered topics including the need to remain friendly toward small businesses, the importance of qualified teachers, the proposed cracker plant in Wood County, and a dedication to reduction in overcrowding of state jails. Moreover, Gov. Tomblin spoke about West Virginian success throughout his address. He emphasized, “The state of our state is strong.” To articulate this point, he introduced inspirational West Virginia citizens including the 2014 Toyota Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Teacher of the Year, Erin Sponaugle from Martinsburg. Other honored guests included small business owners Dwight and Brook Pauley, Marshall University football coach Doc Holliday, WVU engineering graduates Robert Moorhead of Bridgeport and Michael Powell of Parkersburg, business manager Josh Morrison, Boy Scout volunteer Troy Householder of Bridgeport and Medal of Honor winner Hershel Woody Williams.

I was honored to attend the press conference for the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty. According to Stacy Dei, executive director of the Marshall County Family Resource Network (FRN), “The Our Children, Our Future Campaign is a 170-plus member coalition that fights child poverty in West Virginia.” For 2014, their platform includes goals to protect funding for family support programs, implement in-home family and early childhood education, increase minimum wage, emphasize physical activity and recess for children, create a future fund, and deal with substance abuse and misuse. One issue discussed at the press conference dealt with protecting the FRN programs. Hilary Kenney, 18, WVU freshman, spoke about her experiences with the Marshall County FRN. The FRN assisted Hilary and her theater group to produce a play, and they distributed 200 tickets to needy families in the area. In the future, Hilary plans to found an organization at WVU to raise awareness for needy families in West Virginia. She believes the FRN program gave her the motivation and the resources to make a difference in her community.

I look forward to hearing from you during the Legislative Session regarding any issues or concerns that are important to you. Watch for legislative updates and pictures as I continue to take advantage of social networking via Facebook and Twitter. I have been using these methods of staying connected to friends and constituents alike for the past four years, and I receive a lot of positive feedback. My goal is to be easily accessible to everyone; therefore, feel free to contact me anytime or stop by if you are in Charleston.

Contact information: Facebook page: Randy Swartzmiller, or follow me on Twitter: @WV_Delegate; or my e-mail: or write to: Randy Swartzmiller, State Delegate, Room 242, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305; or call my Capitol Office: (304) 340-3138 or Mobile: (304) 479-5140

(Swartzmiller is the speaker pro tempore of the House of Delegates, and represents the 1st District, including Hancock County and parts of Brooke County)