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Monongalia County TIF legislation fails

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A piece of legislation that would spark economic development in Monongalia County has not passed the West Virginia Legislature.

Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, said he will join several other members of the Legislature April 15 to ask Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to call the members into a special legislative session to deal with the issue.

Bills that did not pass the full Legislature by midnight April 13 are dead.

Senate Bill 125 would have allowed a special tax increment financing project in Monongalia County. The money would have been used to construct a new interchange off Interstate 79 near Morgantown and the construction of a baseball stadium in hopes of attracting a minor league team. Commercial and residential real estate was expected to follow.

But the House of Delegates moved SB 125 from the active calendar in the waning hours of the regular session, with House leaders saying they wanted a compromise on a magistrate pay raise bill. Beach said he's never experienced one of his bills held hostage like this.

"I truly believe in the committee process, but it doesn't mean I have to trust and believe in the person who's operating that committee, unfortunately, and tonight a big game of chicken was played, and the residents of West Virginia lost, plain and simple," Beach said in the final moments of the session. "North-Central West Virginia lost out on 2,000 jobs and infrastructure development, and it's a shame."

Beach said he was hopeful early in the evening the bill wouldn't have to go to a special session and the House and Senate could work out its differences.

However, that didn't happen before the midnight deadline.

"I think there's a lot of things playing in the background with this TIF bill in regards to the relationship between Morgantown, Clarksburg and the Bridgeport area, and unfortunately again, the residents of North-Central West Virginia lost, and they lost big," he said.