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Gov. Justice, legislative leaders welcome Maryland counties seeking move to West Virginia

Governor working to call Special Session to make offer official

Charleston, WV –(WWNR) Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia legislative leaders today announced their support for a proposal to make three western Maryland counties part of West Virginia.

Several lawmakers from Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties in Maryland recently authored a pair of letters asking the West Virginia Legislature to consider adding them to the Mountain State. Calling the proposed arrangement “mutually beneficial for both states and for our local constituencies,” the Maryland officials’ request comes in the midst of an unprecedented period of success for West Virginia under Gov. Justice’s leadership. This month alone, West Virginia has cracked the top 10 states in the nation for quarterly GDP growth, set an all-time state record-low unemployment rate, and the Governor announced that his Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy will bring high-speed broadband availability to 200,000 more homes and businesses.

“We’ve got it going on right now in West Virginia. We are knocking it out of the park. Why wouldn’t you want to come?” Gov. Justice said. “We want everyone to know that we are standing here with open arms. We welcome these counties and would be tickled to death to have them and the great folks of that incredible state.”
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“Our state supports personal freedoms, we value the Second Amendment, and we love the rights of the unborn. We love and embrace our energy industry,” Gov. Justice continued. “Moving to West Virginia means job opportunities like crazy and a chance to live in paradise. No matter where you’re from, we’d love to have you in West Virginia.”

Gov. Justice went on to announce that he is working with legislative leadership to call a Special Session soon so that lawmakers can consider a resolution to make the offer official.

The Governor was joined for the announcement by West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, and Delegate Gary Howell.
“I thank the senators, delegates from the General Assembly, and the Governor,” Blair said. “This is a moment that just goes to show that the work we’ve been doing in the state of West Virginia is paying dividends.”
“People are moving to West Virginia, businesses are moving to West Virginia, now we’ve got counties from other states wanting to move to West Virginia,” Blair continued. “Because of the hard work that we’ve done over the last few years to make West Virginia a better place, we’ve been growing and regrowing in our state.”

“Governor, thank you for having us this morning. It’s always flattering when we see recognition for what’s going on here in West Virginia, making national headlines and positioning West Virginia in a place that we have received letters like we’ve received this week from our friends across the border in Maryland,” Hanshaw said. “Certainly, West Virginia is an easy choice. As you said, Governor, things have progressed here in our state in the course of the past three or four years in a way that we’ve not seen in the lifetime of most West Virginians.”
“We’re happy to see that being recognized nationally and we certainly would be more than accommodating and happy to open our borders and open our arms and our state to our friends elsewhere around the borders of our state who may wish to see themselves aligned with West Virginia instead of where they find themselves today,” Hanshaw added.

“When [Delegates from Maryland] requested to come down to Charleston, they met with President Blair, Speaker Hanshaw, and myself,” Howell said. “We gave him a presentation and they took it back home and they said, ‘You know, we think this is what’s good for our people back home. We want to become part of West Virginia. We see the goodness that’s going on in West Virginia and we want to be part of it.’”
Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties are predominantly bordered by West Virginia, not Maryland. The three counties are more mountainous and rural than their state’s urban population centers, with the region being known as “Mountain Maryland.”

The three counties have a combined population over 251,000 and include the cities of Cumberland and Hagerstown, both of which would be among the top 10 most-populated cities in West Virginia if they joined.

This isn’t the first time during Gov. Justice’s tenure that counties in a neighboring state have sought to move to West Virginia.

In early 2020, Gov. Justice addressed calls for Virginia counties to join West Virginia, an effort termed “Vexit,” shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the continental U.S. in earnest.

“In sports, when you have a team that has the right coach, the right players, and puts it all together in every way, people start wanting to jump on the bandwagon,” Gov. Justice said. “All I would say to people is get on the bandwagon. It’s a tremendous opportunity. There’s incredible stuff happening in the state of West Virginia, and I would say come and join the team. We would welcome you in every way and you sure as the dickens would never regret it.”
Under Gov. Justice’s leadership, West Virginia continues to enjoy an era of success and prosperity. 

After inheriting a $500 million budget deficit, Gov. Justice has led the state to a string of consistent budget surpluses by using his lifelong experience as a businessman to make West Virginia a more business-friendly state and by standing behind the energy industry. His Roads to Prosperity program is the state’s largest-ever investment in road maintenance and improvement; after 50 years of neglecting its roads, the state has committed more than $2 billion dollars to fixing them. Teachers and state employees have received their two largest pay raises ever. The state’s Rainy Day Fund now exceeds $1 billion – another record – and its public pension funds are better-funded than they have been in decades. Additional investments in the state’s tourism efforts have visitation and intrigue in West Virginia through the roof. Thanks to Gov. Justice, Veterans now live in West Virginia tax-free and senior citizens do not face state taxes on social security. The Governor has also led West Virginia through a once-in-a-century pandemic, protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens, and achieving some of the best numbers and lowest fatality rates of any state in the nation.