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On The Legislature Today, Sen. Ryan Ferns and Del. Daryl Cowles react the governor's new plans to balance the 2018 budget. 

Justice's proposal includes increased taxes on soda and cigarettes, along with a smaller hike to the consumer sales tax, but is contingent on lawmakers finding additional cuts. 

Both Majority Leaders believe the plan still places the burden too squarely on the backs of West Virginians and they want to see a reduction in the size of government.

Nondiscrimination Bill Receiving Bi-Partisan Support

Mar 2, 2017
WV Legislative Photography, Perry Bennett

What do you think of when you hear "discrimination"? Black Lives Matter? LGBT rights? Do you think of someone who used to look at you funny? A childhood bully?

Everyone has something they think of when they hear the word discrimination. Joseph Cohen Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia said that's because discrimination touches everyone.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice accepts a ball cap from Fairmont State University President Maria Rose after giving a speech during a stop on his Save Our State Tour on Thursday, March 3, 2017, at FSU.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Jim Justice made a stop at Fairmont State University on Thursday as part of his Save Our State tour, a statewide tour to promote his budget plan. 

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Despite best efforts, CPR is not always successful in a hospital. But the death of a patient after CPR can be really stressful for critical care nurses. New research tries to help identify nurses most at risk for postcode stress and post traumatic stress disorder with the hope of improving resiliency in medical providers.

Power Lines
Kreuzschnabel / wikimedia commons

A utility sent helicopters to survey damage from severe thunderstorms that left tens of thousands of homes and businesses in West Virginia without power. In some hard-hit areas, residents were told it would be days before their power was restored.

Appalachian Power said on its website that more than 55,000 customers were without electricity late Thursday morning in southern West Virginia. That included nearly 11,000 in Fayette County and 9,000 in Kanawha County.

Opioids
Toby Talbot / AP Photo

The West Virginia House has approved legislation to establish stiffer prison sentences for trafficking in fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid sometimes added to heroin and blamed for many recent overdoses in the state.

Under the bill, trafficking in less than 5 grams of the narcotic could mean a felony with a minimum of two years and up to 10 years in prison.

The Trump Administration recently rescinded an advisory telling schools to allow transgendered students to use the facilities of their choice.

On this week's Front Porch podcast, we have a lively debate about how to best deal with the emerging transgender rights movement in West Virginia, and balance competing privacy interests.

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Medical debt is incredibly easy to accrue. All it takes is an accident or an unexpected bill tacked onto an expected procedure or an out-of-network charge you didn’t know was out-of-network. Nationally, almost 24 percent of nonelderly Americans have past-due medical debt, according to an Urban Institute report published this week.

State-to-state, the debt rates vary widely, from a low level of indebtedness in Hawaii at about 6 percent of the population, to Mississippi at about 37 percent. West Virginia's rate is about 33 percent.

More than 90,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia remain without power a day after severe thunderstorms rolled through the state.

Appalachian Power says on its website that more than 76,000 customers were without electricity Thursday in southern West Virginia. That includes 16,000 in Fayette County and nearly 9,000 in Logan County.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Gov. Jim Justice has posted on his state website a countdown clock marking the end of the regular legislative session on April 8 as the state budget deadline.

On Wednesday, the clock showed 38 days, hours and seconds ticking away.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Liz McCormick reports from the House of Delegates where lawmakers passed a bill yesterday that either attracts new industry or puts the state’s drinking water at risk and Ashton Marra talks with state Auditor J. B. McCuskey about the implementation the state’s new computer system.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

On The Legislature Today, state Auditor J.B. McCuskey said on the campaign trail he would complete the OASIS implementation process, and just over a month on the job, he says the state is on track to meet that goal by July 1, 2018. 

OASIS is the computer operating system the state has spent years and millions of dollars implementing.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The House voted on a bill Wednesday that aligns West Virginia's standards for some discharges into the state’s waters with federal limits. Opponents say the bill could put West Virginia’s drinking water supply at risk, but supporters maintain it has the potential to attract new industry to the state.

A bill to create guidelines for drones in the state has made its way through the West Virginia Senate.

Senate Bill 9 creates guidelines for the private and commercial use of drones or unmanned aircrafts. 

Sam Beam, Iron & Wine
Brian Blauser / Mountain Stage

 

An ear for cinematic folk music, critically-acclaimed singer Iron & Wine performs "We Two are a Moon" during his Mountain Stage debut during the show's 33rd anniversary celebration. 

This week's broadcast also features performances from Tift Merritt, Todd Burge, Paper Bird, and Andy Shauf.

Catch Iron & Wine's performance of this song on Mountain Stage's VuHaus channel.

The United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds sent a letter to retired miners warning them that their health benefits won’t continue after May 1, 2017, if Congress doesn’t act by the end of April. 

Ben Adducchio / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Emergency officials say storms caused some flooding in northern West Virginia as heavy rain crossed the state Wednesday. Spokesman Lawrence Messina says the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management activated its system for county and local authorities to report conditions and request help.

Messina says they are seeing "some roadway ponding and drains backed up," with some schools canceling classes as a precaution. Transportation officials say a dozen roads closed in Marshall and Tyler counties from high water with several others closed in Fayette County from downed trees.

streams
Alokrohith / wikimedia commons

West Virginia's House is set to vote on legislation that would allow larger pollution discharges into the state's waterways.

The proposal would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to calculate water pollution limits for cancer-causing chemicals using an average-flow figure — called the "harmonic mean" — rather than the state's current practice of using low-flow water volume to determine allowable discharge amounts.

Fayette County Map
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

Fayetteville officials have renewed an effort to restore the old Fayetteville High School building.

The Register-Herald of Beckley reports Mayor Dennis Hanson and the school preservation board announced a drive Monday to raise funds for the restoration. To date, the board has raised more than $343,600.

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Dozens of groups interested in history or genealogy are expected at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston next week.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History says some 60 local groups will gather for the 21st West Virginia History Day on March 9.

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