Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A federal appeals court has invalidated a sweeping gag order in the case of a former coal company executive accused of violating safety standards at a West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 men.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order Thursday, three days after hearing arguments on the issue.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger's order prohibited just about anyone, including victims' relatives, from speaking publicly about former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's case. She also kept most court filings secret.

Matt Harvey / The Exponent Telegram

A co-defendant has been sentenced in a drug case involving a former Bridgeport mayor.

Angela Davis of Bridgeport received an eight-month prison sentence on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg. The Exponent Telegram reports that U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley rejected a defense request for probation or a split sentence of house arrest and incarceration.

On this West Virginia Morning, we bring you the latest from the House and the Senate including a move by Delegates to overturn Governor Tomblin's veto of the 22-week abortion ban.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

During an evening session on the final day to approve bills in their originating chamber, members of the state Senate passed a bill that would make major changes to election contribution laws in West Virginia.

The body began debating the bill more than a week ago that when introduced would have removed all contribution caps for candidate donations and allowed corporations to begin giving to West Virginia races.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On deadline to keep bills alive, lawmakers are working to change campaign-finance laws, scale back natural-gas mineral rights, introduce Uber ridesharing, and outlaw open beer cans in cars.

Wednesday marked the GOP-led Legislature's last day to pass bills in the chamber where they started.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After a session that lasted almost until midnight Tuesday night, members of the House got an early start Wednesday morning to pass a flurry of bills. Here's a look at three of those bills, but first a look at a proposed constitutional amendment that passed protecting homeowners from creditors after the passing of a spouse.

Office of the Governor

Rainfall and melting snow is causing creeks and rivers to rise across West Virginia. The rising waters pushed 15 counties to dismiss students early from public schools on Wednesday.

In a release sent out Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a statewide State of Emergency. The declaration mobilizes state resources to combat severe weather conditions and ensure the safety of residents across the state.

At the legislature today, it’s crossover day which means members of both chambers have plenty of work to do. Senators say they will complete their calendar of bills long before the midnight deadline, But the House came to a halt this afternoon as members of the minority teamed up with some Republicans in an effort to kill a controversial bill, reading all 41 pages of it on the chamber floor. That story and we’ll talk with the leader of an education organization about the major bills lawmakers have considered so far this session, on The Legislature Today.

courtesy of Luke Jackson

High waters are creating dangerous conditions in southern West Virginia. Dispatchers say some residents are being evacuated.

Emergency dispatchers in Wyoming County say that the rainfall Wednesday morning caused a mudslide. One resident in Jesse told dispatchers that part of the mountain slid into their residence. Deputies are on scene evaluating the situation.

National Weather Service, Charleston

  Flood warnings have been issued as heavy rains move through West Virginia before giving way to significant snowfall.

Schools in at least 15 counties sent students home early due to high water and other storm-related issues Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says an ice jam caused stream flooding near Moundsville. A flooded creek poured over a bridge in Morgantown and swollen streams inundated roads in several other communities.

State transportation officials say a rock slide closed one lane of southbound Interstate 77 near the Jackson-Wood county line.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A push to drug test some welfare recipients is dead in the West Virginia Legislature.

On Wednesday, Republican bill sponsor Del. Patrick Lane confirmed the bill was done for the session.

The Republican-led House voted to table the bill Tuesday.

Wednesday is the final day to pass bills out of at least one chamber. The Senate version of the welfare drug testing bill hasn't passed, either.

In the West Virginia bills, drug testing would have been based on reasonable suspicion.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

State officials say West Virginia could end the fiscal year $60 million to $80 million in the red.

February revenue collections were about $5.4 million below estimates for the month. That increased the total shortfall for the fiscal year to more than $47 million.

The fiscal year ends July 1.

Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow tells media outlets that revenue collections for the remainder of the fiscal year would have to be at least 9.7 percent higher than last year's revenue collections. He says that's unlikely.

Tim Kiser / wikimedia Commons

Beckley's historic district and two other sites are on the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia's latest endangered properties list.

The other sites are a farmhouse built around 1845 in Mount Nebo and a service station built in 1945 in Fayetteville.

Executive director Danielle LaPresta tells The Register-Herald that the preservation group normally works with individual properties. But she says Beckley's entire national historic district is in eminent danger because of neglect, demolitions and inappropriate development.

By File:We_Can_Do_It!.jpg: J. Howard Miller, artist employed by Westinghouse, poster used by the War Production Co-ordinating Committee derivative work: Tom Morris (This file was derived from: We Can Do It!.jpg:) [Public domain] / Wikimedia Commons

Where Are All the Women? Wikipedia’s Gender Gap” That’s the name of a panel discussion that will be hosted at West Virginia University. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators continue to move on a bill that would repeal Common Core standards in the state Tuesday by proposing amendments during an Education subcommittee meeting.

House Bill 2934 was approved over the weekend by the House of Delegates and called for a total repeal of the math and English standards by July 1, 2015.

Ron Sachs

A Morgantown woman is representing West Virginia in an international effort to fight extreme poverty in Africa. Jamie Williams was inspired by her faith and her previous volunteer work to take up the cause. 

Williams is a West Virginia University alumna. She made her first lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., in February for the ONE Campaign Summit. Co-founded by U2’s Bono, the ONE Campaign is an international group working to end extreme poverty and disease. Williams was in D.C. to urge members of Congress to take up the Electrify Africa Act.

At the legislature today, bills to repeal West Virginia’s educational standards and loosen up the state's campaign finance laws were up for discussion in the senate.    These stories and more coming up on The Legislature Today.

CommonsHelper2 Bot / wikimedia commons

In the House Tuesday, a bill to reintroduce elk to the state was passed and a bill allowing non-profit organizations a one-day permit to sell alcoholic beverages to fundraising events.

U.S. Geological Survey

The U.S. Geological Survey says more data and research are necessary to best understand the potential risks to water quality in areas with unconventional oil and gas development.

David Monniaux / wikimedia Commons

A company plans to spend about $1 billion to build two natural gas-fired power plants in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle.

The State Journal reports that the Brooke County Commission approved a memorandum of understanding for the project on Tuesday.

Energy Solutions Consortium LLC plans to build a 750-megawatt plant and a 550-megawatt plant on the former Wheeling Corrugating property in Beech Bottom. The property will be purchased from the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle.