Lawmakers from 3 Western Md. counties ask to be part of West Virginia

From the “I’m sorry, what now?” files:

Lawmakers representing three Western Maryland counties sent two letters last week asking West Virginia officials to “consider” adding their counties to the state.

“We believe this arrangement may be mutually beneficial for both states and for our local constituencies. Please advise on next steps,” both letters read.

The first letter — for Garrett and Allegany counties — was sent and signed by Sen. George Edwards and Dels. Wendell Beitzel, Jason Buckel and Mike McKay. The second letter — for Washington County — was signed by Del. William Wivell as well as McKay.

All five Maryland lawmakers are Republicans.



Both letters were addressed to West Virginia Speaker Roger Hanshaw and President Craig Blair at the state capital in Charleston.

Read the letters (PDF).

West Virginia Lt. Gov. Craig Blair seemed open to the idea.

“I would be more than happy to welcome my friends and neighbors from Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties into West Virginia,” said in a statement. “Washington County already shares many similarities with the area of the state that I represent, and both Allegany and Garrett counties are a natural fit with our state’s Potomac Highlands region.”

As for “next steps,” the Constitution comes in handy here.

Check out Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

As such, it would require the legislatures of Maryland and West Virginia to sign off on it, as well as Congress.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice holds a news conference on the request at 10 a.m. Watch it live:

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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