The Front Porch

Fridays at 4:50 p.m.
  • Hosted by Scott Finn, Laurie Lin
  • Local Host Rick Wilson

Welcome to “The Front Porch,” where we tackle the tough issues facing Appalachia the same way you talk with your friends on the porch. 

Hosts include WVPB Executive Director and recovering reporter Scott Finn; conservative lawyer, columnist and rabid "Sherlock" fan Laurie Lin; and liberal columnist and avid goat herder Rick Wilson, 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 Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail. Find the latest news, traffic and weather on its CGM App. Download it in your app store, and check out its website: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/

Thomas Goodman says it's not a struggle to stay in West Virginia -- it's a choice.

"If you’re a young person and you have a degree of…ambition, and you’re willing to stick it out through the heartache we’re enduring right now, on the backside of that, you’ll write your own ticket," he said. "If you’re willing to assume responsibility and be a leader, the opportunity will present itself."

The Front Porch spoke with Goodman as part of our "The Struggle to Stay" series, co-sponsored with West Virginia Living.

This week, we talk with Garrett Ballengee, executive director of The Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.

Who’s to blame for the decline of the white working class?

Kevin D. Williamson, a writer for the National Review, has an answer: it’s their own fault.

http://photographyisnotacrime.com

This week, The Front Porch gang is too busy celebrating passage of the Brunch Bill to do a new episode - so enjoy this classic podcast, one of the most popular we've ever done, about what happens when outsiders with cameras visit a remote Appalachian community.

Jesse and Marisha Camp were driving through McDowell County when they were confronted by angry residents who believed they were taking photos of their children.

Perry Bennette / West Virginia Legislative Photography

It’s been a horrific year for the state budget in West Virginia. There’s a budget hole to fill of about $400 million because of the collapse of severance tax revenue from coal and gas.

There are basically three ways to balance the budget:

1. Raise taxes

2. Cut spending

3. Dip into the state’s savings.  

Governor Tomblin proposed to balance the budget through a mix of all three – a 4 percent across-the-board spending cut, a tax on cell phone service and a 45 cent increase in the cigarette tax.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Public Broadcastinglative Photography

After passing overwhelmingly in the W.Va. House, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was amended and then voted down in the Senate.

It can be hard to live in West Virginia - especially now. Hear us discuss why we stay, despite the struggle.

Also, a retiring lawmaker recites a moving poem about living in flyover country, in response to a degrading tweet from Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

There’s evidence Donald Trump may be more popular in West Virginia than any other state.

  The death of Justice Antonin Scalia leaves a huge vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court. Whoever fills the position could impact the President's Clean Power Plan, abortion rights and the direction of the court for a generation.

Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich received more than a marriage certificate when they went to the courthouse in Gilmer County, W.Va.

Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen also gave them a piece of her mind.

The couple says Allen "for two to three minutes, yelled that what they were doing was wrong in her eyes and in God’s eyes and that no one in Gilmer County would ever marry them." Allen eventually gave them the certificate.

PBS

Amber Miller admits she was no angel. She hung out with the wrong crowd. She used drugs.

When she was 20, she went to prison for stealing $30 from her grandmother.

But 12 years later, she is still labeled as a felon. And that's hurt her ability to find work.

A bi-partisan group of state lawmakers is sponsoring a "second chance" bill. It would allow first-time, non-violent felons to ask a judge to expunge their record a certain time after release.

Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect religious expression, or allow people to discriminate against certain groups?

On this Snowmaggedon edition of The Front Porch:

1. A huge snowball fight breaks out over Right to Work, and whether it is right for West Virginia

2. Does Sen. Chris Walter's bill to expand broadband internet access stand a snowball's chance in hell? Should it?

Governor Tomblin
AP Photo / Tyler Evert

It’s the second Legislature with Republicans in charge and the swan song for Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, all in the middle of the biggest budget crisis in a generation.

In this week’s “Front Porch Podcast,” we debate the 5 biggest issues of this legislative session, and how they may affect your lives (in reverse order of importance.)

5. Tobacco tax increase – Gov. Tomblin proposed a 45 cent increase to $1 a pack. That’s lower than what many Democrats asked for, and some Republicans want no increase at all.

What do Don Blankenship, heroin, and pepperoni rolls have in common? They’re all on our highly-unscientific list of top stories for 2015.

West Virginia is likely to become the 26th “right-to-work” state when the legislature meets in January. GOP leaders say they have the votes, and they can override Gov. Tomblin’s veto with a simple majority.

How would passing a right-to-work (RTW) law change West Virginia?

Jody Lee Hunt gunned down his ex-girlfriend, two of her lovers and his main competitor in one day. The 2014 slayings near Morgantown are just one example of mass shootings in America.

But are mass shootings more common in gun-rich Appalachia? And are we more likely to target strangers or the people we know and love?

Find out by listening to this week's episode of The Front Porch podcast.

lifelinesyria.ca

W.Va. Delegate Joshua Nelson, R-Boone, has launched a petition seeking to stop Syrian refugees from coming into America, at least until better safeguards are in place.

His experience serving in the military informed his decision, he said.

"Most people in that area just want to live peaceful lives. I've served with Middle Eastern people, Islamic people, that had my back," Nelson said

"But, in regards to what happened in Paris, these guys are posing as Syrian refugees. Until we are certain that (screening) process is adequate, we have to be very careful."

Story telling is a great part of family gatherings.  This Thanksgiving StoryCorps is encouraging families to sit down and record some of those stories as part of a national project.   A particular focus is working with high school students, however anyone can participate. So, take some time, download the app and give a listen to someone you love. 

This Thanksgiving weekend, StoryCorps will work with teachers and high school students across the country to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.

Wv Broadband Mapping Project

West Virginia has some of the lowest rates of broadband access at some of the slowest speeds in the nation.

Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, wants state government to build a sort of fiber-optic interstate highway and then lease it to private providers. The goal is to bring high internet speeds at cheaper costs.

On The Front Porch podcast, Walters gave ten reasons for building the network:

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