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Six weeks before a landmark mine disaster trial, federal prosecutors in West Virginia have added a new allegation to the criminal conspiracy charges lodged against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll bring you the latest developments in the Senate and the House, including a public hearing that was held yesterday on Charter Schools

At the legislature today, the pros and cons of consuming raw milk is debated in the House.  Senate Bill 30 passed overwhelmingly and heads back to the Senate to consider House changes to the bill.  In the Senate there’s more discussion about funding for state roads and another agreement for more study about that issue.  And we begin a two part series about ginseng. Could it become a leading cash crop? These stories and more coming up on The Legislature Today.

West Virginia Legislature

Senate Bill 30 permits a shared animal ownership agreement to consume raw milk. Currently in the state, it is illegal to purchase or sell raw milk. And just like when it was debated in the Senate, some members of the House also questioned the health effects of drinking raw milk, while others maintained it allows for personal freedom.

The first woman to represent West Virginia in the U.S. Senate gave her inaugural floor speech today Tuesday, March 10. Energy policy was a big part of Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s address. 

Capito said she will focus on improving the state’s roads, broadband access and health care for veterans and children during her time in the Senate. But during her 15-minute speech, U.S. energy policy became a real point of emphasis. 

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

It’s too late in the session for Senators to approve a bill that would increase dollars committed to the state Road Fund, but members on both sides of the aisle say they are prepared to commit to a study of the issue. 

Sen. Bob Plymale of Wayne County introduced Senate Bill 478 nearly a month ago, which would do just that. The bill proposes increasing revenues for road construction by upping the gasoline and consumer sales taxes and raising Division of Motor Vehicle fees that haven’t been touched since the 1970s.

Wikimedia Commons / User: Harald Dettenborn

The State Department says the full trove of Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails as secretary of state will be published on a website after they are reviewed.

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki  says a review of the 55,000 pages of emails will take several months. They'll be posted online afterward for the public to see.

Steve Shaluta / West Virginia Division of Tourism

  Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Pat Reed says an 18 percent decline in highway fatalities could be due to recent safety laws and public awareness campaigns.

Reed said Tuesday that highway fatalities dropped from 332 in 2013 to 271 in 2014.

Reed says in a news release that the decline shows the state is moving in the right direction toward its goal of zero fatalities.

Wikimedia Commons / User Jgharston

  State lawmakers have cleared a bill letting people drink raw milk through animal herd sharing agreements.

The House of Delegates voted 81-19 to approve the measure Tuesday.

Senators narrowly passed the bill last month.

The proposal wouldn't allow retail sales of raw milk.

Instead, it would require filling out a contract of ownership for milk-producing animals. The person consuming the raw milk would have to sign a form acknowledging health risks.

Voting
WBOY

State lawmakers have approved a push to remove the option for voters to cast straight party-line ballots by checking one box.

On Tuesday, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted 87-13 to prohibit the practice. Only Democrats opposed the bill.

The Senate cleared a similar proposal last month.

Wikimedia Commons

  State officials have closed three chronic pain management clinics this year for failing to comply with a law aimed at reducing substance abuse.

The 2012 law gave the Department of Health and Human Resources oversight over pain clinic licensure and codified patient and health safety.

A conservative group that has boosted Republicans has nixed its $100,000 per person breakfast fundraiser.

  An invitation obtained by The Associated Press said the Go West Virginia Inc. breakfast would take place Tuesday in Charleston. It said donors wouldn't be publicly disclosed.

Eric Lycan, an attorney for the group, said the event wasn't held and none is currently scheduled. The Courtyard Marriott, where the event was supposed to take place, confirmed the fundraiser was canceled.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A House of Delegates panel narrowly approved a bill to scale back protections to prevent chemical spills from sullying water supplies.

The January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days spurred the tank law.

At 11:30 p.m. Monday, the committee voted 13-12 to send the proposal to the floor. Several Kanawha County Republicans opposed it.

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll bring you up to date on major changes to the conversation over common core education standards in the senate, and we’ll have the latest on house bill that aims to amend the concealed carry law in the house

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate Education Committee made major changes Monday to a bill that would repeal Common Core English and math standards in West Virginia. The bill no longer calls for a repeal, instead requires the West Virginia Department of Education study the standards for two years.

House Bill 2934, as approved by the House of Delegates, would have fully repealed the content standards by July 1,2015. As it moved through the Senate, an Education subcommittee agreed to give the repeal an additional year, amending the date to July 1, 2016.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At a ceremonial signing Monday, Governor Tomblin signed Senate Bill 335 into law.

Short titled the Opioid Antagonist Act, the bill allows emergency responders, medical personnel, family and friends to administer a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and can save a person’s life. 

Opioids are drugs like heroine, morphine and oxycodone, drugs that are commonly abused in West Virginia.

At the legislature today, the House made some major changes to the senate’s campaign finance reform bill.  And two senators say the bill will not be approved by the Senate with those changes intact.  A rally over the weekend brings six thousand citizens to the capitol to speak out against the Republican-led initiatives they say will hurt workers across the state.  And we’ll talk about senior citizen’s issues with representatives of the AARP on The Legislature Today.

Over the weekend the House Judiciary Committee met to discuss a handful of bills, but most notably the bill to amend the concealed carry law and a bill that reforms political spending in the state.

Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The city of Huntington announced Monday they’ve received a grant of $200,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The grant will help cleanup old industrial sites in the Highlawn area of Huntington and will help facilitate a new advanced polymer center. Huntington is one of 20 communities nationwide this year to receive a grant under the EPA’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning program.

Federal regulators issued more than a dozen citations to a West Virginia coal mine in the week prior to an accident that killed one worker and injured two others.

According to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s website, Murray Energy was cited several times for roof plans and protection from roof, face and rib falls.

Murray Energy's owns McElroy Mine in Marshall County near Cameron where one miner died and three others were reported injured on Sunday.

West Virginia Office of Miner’s Health Health Safety and Training spokesperson Leslie Smithson says 45-year-old Assistant Longwall Coordinator John M. Garloch of Neffs, Ohio was killed.  Initial reports indicate the cause of Sunday night's accident was a roof and rib fall.


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