The Front Porch

Fridays at 4:50 p.m.

Welcome to “The Front Porch,” where we tackle the tough issues facing West Virginia and Appalachia with some of the region's most interesting thinkers.

WVPB Executive Director Scott Finn serves as host, joined by Laurie Lin, a conservative lawyer and columnist, and Rick Wilson, a liberal columnist and avid goat herder who works for the American Friends Service Committee .

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available at wvpublic.org and as a podcast as well.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you'd like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to @radiofinn or @wvpublicnews, or e-mail Scott at sfinn @ wvpublic.org

The Front Porch is underwritten by The Charleston Gazette Mail, providing both sides of the story on its two editorial pages. Check it out: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/

WVU / WVU

With lawmakers in Charleston facing a $500 million budget hole, they're debating big changes to the tax code, including eliminating the income tax and raising sales taxes. Is that wise? 

West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research Director John Deskins explains the pros and cons on this week's Front Porch Podcast.

Frustrated by the inability to get a bill out of committee, House Democrats tried to legalize medical marijuana from the floor Thursday but failed, 35 to 64.

Still, a recent poll shows a majority of West Virginians favor medical marijuana. Is this an idea whose time has come?

The Trump Administration recently rescinded an advisory telling schools to allow transgendered students to use the facilities of their choice.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

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.

Is Justice Tax Plan DOA in the Legislature?

Feb 16, 2017
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

"In a rhetorical flourish almost certainly unlike any in the history of West Virginia gubernatorial oratory, Jim Justice spread his arms wide and moaned in an impression of Frankenstein’s monster."

That's how WV Metronews reporter Brad McElhinny described the end of Gov. Jim Justice's State of the State address. Justice was making a point about the state budget mess, a deficit of almost $500 million.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Change is coming to education in West Virginia, at both the state and federal levels.

At the federal level, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, a businesswoman and philanthropist who’s led the fight for vouchers and charter schools.

And at the state level, we have two resignations from the state school board, which will give Governor Jim Justice a majority – and the ability to reshape public education in the state.

West Virginia’s economy has a “chicken and egg” problem.

To grow more jobs here, we need better-educated, healthy employees.

But before we can afford to pay for better schools and health, we need more jobs and more businesses.

As you might imagine, liberals and conservatives have different ideas which should come first – lower taxes or higher education and health spending.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  

He bought the ax and the tackle box from a desperate woman by the side of the road.

"She was selling her life away, her memories, just to have enough money to have food," Jim Justice said in his first speech as governor, as he held the ax and the tackle box.

"She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'Mister, you don't have any idea how bad I'm hurting,'" Justice said.

Justice is promising big changes, now that he's governor. In his inaugural speech, he said he wanted to:

- Raise the pay of teachers

What do Donald Trump, goat yoga and West Virginia's budget have in common? Find out on this week's Front Porch podcast.

Woody Thrasher says West Virginians don’t give themselves nearly enough credit.

“West Virginians do have a self-esteem problem,” the incoming W.Va. Secretary of Commerce told “The Front Porch.”

“I oftentimes see where we don’t shoot as high as we should. I think it’s understandable, but regrettable, and it’s very much at the center of what Governor-elect Justice wants to change,” he said.

Charleston Gazette-Mail

Since Donald Trump’s election, membership in the ACLU of West Virginia has gone up 30 percent, according to executive director Joseph Cohen.

On The Front Porch podcast, Cohen discussed how his organization is preparing for President Trump in three areas:

Six W.Va. Stories to Watch in 2017

Dec 30, 2016
Frances Brundage / Wikimedia Commons

Front Porch hosts Scott Finn, Laurie Lin, and Rick Wilson tell us which stories they'll be following in 2017:

WVPA

Drug wholesalers sent 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into West Virginia over six years, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Meanwhile, 1,728 West Virginians died from overdoses of these two powerful painkillers.

Who let it happen? Investigative reporter Eric Eyre, of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, answered our questions about his series on The Front Porch.

Tom Williams / Getty Images

This week on the Front Porch, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito gives her take on what the new Trump administration means for West Virginia.

We discuss recent resurgence of black lung among coal miners, what comes after the promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, what can be done to build rural broadband networks, and more.

Donald Trump
Darron Cummings / Associated Press

What were the top stories in West Virginia from 2016? We searched our archives from the past year and compiled this list of the most popular stories.

UC Hastings

How could a billionaire born into wealth become the champion of the white working class?

That question stumped a lot of liberal commentators, but Joan Williams wasn’t surprised.

Williams studies the white working class and is founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings College of the Law.

Last week in Charleston, a white man shot and killed a black teen, 15-year-old James Means. The accused told police, “The way I look at it, that's another piece of trash off the street."

Unlike other cities where similar things happened, Charleston did not erupt into violent protests.

This week Scott, Laurie, and Rick are joined by guest Sharif Youssef. Youssef is the child of an Egyptian immigrant who grew up in the town of West Liberty, West Virginia, who now works as a producer on the popular podcast "99% Invisible" in the San Francisco Bay area.

Why did so much of middle America vote Trump? J.B. Akers says it’s too simple to write it off to racism and misogyny.

Akers is a West Virginia lawyer whose blog post on the Trump election went viral. It’s called, “Trump Won and I Don't Understand Why You Don't Understand.”

Akers said he was motivated to write the essay after reading the reaction of his more cosmopolitan friends on social media.

Spencer Platt/Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Jim Justice and Donald Trump both won big in West Virginia, and now it's time to get down to the real challenge of governing.

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