A Straw in the Wind? Or a Big Nothingburger?

During the most recent session of the West Virginia Legislature, one of the major issues was whether there would be logging in State Parks.  Thanks to substantial public outcry, that proposal lost.

At the end of the session, after the proposal to log in State Parks was dead, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources passed a resolution calling for a study of the management of public lands.  While the Committee passed the resolution, it never passed the full Senate.

What are we to make of this?

On the one hand, a study resolution can be a sign that something is likely to happen next year.  If the Legislature is serious about an issue, it often studies it over the summer and fall so that when the next session comes it is all ready to go.  A study resolution can be the Legislature’s way of signaling that the train is on the fast track and building up steam.

A study resolution can also be a legislative consolation prize.  If someone doesn’t have the power to push their issue across the finish line, they get a study resolution.  Even if the law they proposed didn’t pass, they can go home happy that the Legislature took them seriously.  Sometimes these consolation prizes don’t amount to anything.  There is no study, and nothing ever happens.

From the fact that some Senators proposed a study and a Committee passed it we know that somebody wants to pursue this idea next year.  The resolution suggested that there be “input shall be sought from appropriate state, local, and private agencies and organizations, including the Division of Natural Resources and the Division of Forestry.”  It doesn’t say anything about participation from the general public.

But what are we to make of the fact that it did not pass the Senate?  Does this mean that the idea of logging in State Parks has so little support that its advocates don’t

even get a consolation prize?

Or did the proposed resolution just get lost in the hurly burly that is the last days of the Legislature?   Lots of things do.  Maybe there is still substantial support for the idea but the resolution which would have expressed that support just got overlooked. In that case the failure of the resolution to pass means nothing.

We shall see. And don’t throw away your picket signs just yet.