Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

When Services Disappear, Will Senate Reconsider Tax Hikes?

DMAPS, the shorthand for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, is an area of the budget that, according to Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall, can be difficult to cut. At $350 million, it’s a fairly sizable part of state government and houses the regional jails, prisons, homeland security office, State Police, and a few other divisions. During the department’s budget presentation Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice’s newly appointed Secretary Jeff Sandy told senators he’s only officially been in his position for just over a month, but he’s already looking to make changes that will result in savings.

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On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has presented lawmakers with several legislative proposals, including an overhaul of the state's education system aimed at pushing control back to the local level. 

Although he said he hasn't worked through the full proposal, Senate President Mitch Carmichael supports the overarching plan of more flexibility.

"That’s what his initiative in broad terms does," he said. "We support that and we’ll reserve right to comment on the details, but I’m very anxious to work with him on that goal of returning control to the local entities.”

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates are beginning to consider bills that would cut some state agencies, no matter how big or how small there are. Members of one committee Friday looked at a bill that would put an end to an agency that receives about $150,000 in annual funding.

House Bill 2646 would get rid of the West Virginia Women’s Commission. It’s a small state agency with just two employees, one of whom works part-time. The House Government Organization Committee considered the bill this morning – where its sponsors defended the proposal.

Bill Crouch
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

State officials were in Huntington Friday to highlight an organization that could be impacted by cuts, if budget proposals aren’t passed by the legislature.

WV has a budget crisis. Governor Jim Justice’s budget proposal includes more than $450M in tax increases to cover the majority of a $500M deficit. But still programs like the Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Waiver are at risk.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

GOP leaders proposing a tax overhaul that would eliminate West Virginia income tax, while increasing the sales tax and expanding it to services that are currently exempt.

Is this a good idea? Rick Wilson of the American Friends Service Committee calls it “the second-cousin of all bad ideas, because its regressive, it puts more burdens on the working class than the wealthy.”

Laurie Lin says, “It’s not a great idea for West Virginia,” – even if it works in other states. A state with so many border towns may suffer a loss of business, she said.

Adobe Stock

If you are overweight and struggling with pain, eating a Mediterranean diet could help, a new study suggests. 

Researchers at Ohio State University looked at the relationship between weight, inflammation and pain. They found that eating anti-inflammatory foods, including seafood, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, helped relieve pain, regardless of how heavy someone was. 

Adobe Stock

New research out of Johns Hopkins University has found that more than forty percent of people receiving medication for opioid addiction were also given prescriptions for other opioid painkillers during the time of treatment.

The researchers looked at pharmacy claims for more than 38,000 new buprenorphine users who filled prescriptions between 2006 and 2013 in 11 states. Buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

Rock Creek Development Park
Clark / WV Public Broadcasting

One of the last goals of former West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration, was to try to help southern West Virginia economically. Tomblin hopes he’s found a unique way to do that.

Space, that’s one of the things companies look for when they consider locating in West Virginia. They want plenty of it before they’ll commit to moving factories and warehouses to the state, but former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the lack of flat land is often a challenge for those working to diversify West Virginia’s economy.

Governor's Office

Former state tourism commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin is running for mayor of Charleston.

Goodwin announced her candidacy at a news conference Thursday.

A federal appeals court has refused to rehear the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the order Friday.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice waves to the crowd as he delivers his inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Charleston, W.Va.
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

Gov. Jim Justice is calling for legislation to give him authority to furlough state workers to help address the government's budget deficits.

The recently elected Democratic governor earlier proposed tapping the state's rainy day fund to close a projected $123 million gap in the current fiscal year.

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