Governor wants special legislative session for three Maryland counties to join West Virginia

After five Maryland lawmakers from three western Maryland counties announced that they want to secede from their state to join West Virginia, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has begun planning a special session to try to make it happen.
The lawmakers represent three

Updated: October 22, 2021 - 8:48pm

After five Maryland lawmakers from three western Maryland counties announced that they want to secede from their state to join West Virginia, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has begun planning a special session to try to make it happen.

The lawmakers represent three counties that border West Virginia – Allegany, Garrett and Washington. Allegany and Garret are the two counties within the narrow strip of northwestern Maryland that extends between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Part of Washington is also in that strip of land.

This week, the lawmakers sent letters to West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay and Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, requesting the state to add them as constituent counties of West Virginia. The letters said they believe the change would be beneficial to both states and requested to be advised on the next step.

All five lawmakers are Republicans in a state that is mostly Democratic. Former President Donald Trump received a majority of votes in all three counties in a state in which nearly two-thirds of the vote went for President Joe Biden. The counties are in a more rural and more conservative part of Maryland.

Justice, Hanshaw and Blair all expressed support for the change.

“Our state supports personal freedoms, we value the Second Amendment, and we love the rights of the unborn,” Justice said in a statement. “We love and embrace our energy industry. 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.”

There are more than 251,000 people who live in the three counties and if they joined West Virginia, two of the cities would be among the state’s 10 largest cities: Cumberland and Hagerstown.

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