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Divided W.Va. House passes magistrate pay raises

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 01:33 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia's House of Delegates has endorsed magistrate court pay raises despite opposition from its Republican minority.

Wednesday's 53-45 vote sends the first bill to the Senate since the session began last week. Two delegates were absent.

It's also the first vote on passage since GOP delegates increased their House share by 11 to 46 of 100 seats.

Republican delegates cited budget pressures to challenge the raises. The bill would hike annual salaries and benefits by $737,000 for dozens of magistrates, as well as assistants and top clerks. It responds to 2010 Census results that reduced magistrate court pay in four counties because of population declines.

Democrats argued that the bill equalizes pay. They noted that Republicans supported an identical measure last year.

The state Supreme Court endorsed the bill.