Everhart: Gambling lobby did not write Hilltop House bill

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Was the Hilltop House bill custom ordered by the gambling lobby?

16th District Senator John Unger said as much Thursday on Panhandle Live.

Mark Everhart is a Shepherdstown City Councilmember and disagrees. He said the bill was likely written up by 16th District Senator Patricia Rucker and her attorneys.

“On the House side, you have a bill that is parallel to this. Jason Barrett and Sammi Brown are co-sponsors. Those are members of his own party. Does he think that they worked with a gambling lobbyist to write this bill? I don’t think so. That’s a ludicrous accusation to me. He knows how bills are written, and to say that it was written by a gambling lobbyist is very strange,” Everhart said.

Everhart, who is a candidate in the 67th District Delegate race, said Unger is fear mongering, and that the senator’s concerns about the bill paving the way for large gambling projects in Shepherdstown are unfounded. He disputed Unger’s fear that the bill would allow the state to take property through Eminent Domain for tourism projects.

Mark Everhart

“I really do not see the state coming in and exerting its will. We have a very, very special case here in Harpers Ferry that we have to solve, but to think that the state is going to run rough-shod over small municipalities to get tourism projects built, I just don’t see that happening,” Everhart said.

The tourism bill aims to jumpstart projects like the 139 million dollar Hilltop House redevelopment in small towns like Harpers Ferry.

Senator Unger made his remarks regarding the bill and its potential impact to towns like Shepherdstown during an appearance on Panhandle Live Thursday.

Story by Marsha Chwalik