Western

Western Maryland state lawmakers have sent letters to officials in West Virginia, asking them to “consider adding us as constituent counties to the State of West Virginia.”

Deep Creek Lake and the Wisp ski and golf resort are the most popular destinations for visitors to Garrett County, Maryland, one of several counties in Western Maryland whose lawmakers have asked West Virginia to consider adding them to their state. © Baltimore Sun Deep Creek Lake and the Wisp ski and golf resort are the most popular destinations for visitors to Garrett County, Maryland, one of several counties in Western Maryland whose lawmakers have asked West Virginia to consider adding them to their state.

“We believe this arrangement may be mutually beneficial for both states and for our local constituencies,” the lawmakers wrote in the letters, which were sent earlier this month and released publicly on Thursday. The letter was signed by five Republican lawmakers who represent Maryland’s three westernmost counties: Garrett, Allegany and Washington.

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It wasn’t immediately clear exactly what legal steps would need to be accomplished in order to make such a switch, but there would likely be many hurdles ahead.

Del. Mike McKay, a Republican who represents Washington and Allegany counties, said one idea is to pass a bill that would put a nonbinding referendum on the 2022 ballot, asking voters in the three counties what they think about the switch.

But first, McKay said they have to find out if West Virginia would even entertain the idea.

“First you have to knock on the door and see if the person is willing to answer before we can discuss how it would work out,” McKay said.

West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair received the letter but was not available to discuss it Thursday, according to his office.

Western Maryland lawmakers have periodically raised concerns in the Maryland General Assembly that their part of the state is different from the rest of the state, with a more conservative political outlook, unique economic drivers, a media market based in Pittsburgh and close borders with surrounding states.

When hydraulic fracturing, a method of drilling for natural gas also known as “fracking,” was banned a few years ago, Western Maryland lawmakers objected, saying that the rest of Maryland was taking away a potential economic lifeline for the largely rural area.

McKay said his constituents often don’t feel heard in Annapolis on issues like gun rights and taxes.

McKay said the idea of swapping the western counties from Maryland to West Virginia has been tossed around before, and lawmakers for the region thought now was a good time to start exploring the issue. If it turns out that their constituents don’t want it — or if West Virginia isn’t interested — then the matter would be put to bed.

“We’re answering the call of some of our constituents who have been requesting this for many years,” he said.

This article will be updated.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/western-maryland-lawmakers-ask-west-virginia-officials-to-consider-adding-us-to-their-state/ar-AAPNBZz

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