The Legislature Today Podcast

The Legislature Today is West Virginia's source for daily legislative news and information.  The only live television program covering the West Virginia Legislature, the broadcast features reports from the Senate, House and committee meetings with in-depth interviews and analysis of the legislative process in West Virginia.

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On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice says he or members of his staff will be in his “war room” every morning through the end of the legislative session, inviting lawmakers from both parties to join him to work on a budget.

 

This morning was the first of those meetings and while some lawmakers did attend, they were all members of the Democratic Party.

On The Legislature Today, Governor Jim Justice is declaring a symbolic State of Emergency in West Virginia due to Republican plans to cut Medicaid dollars.

Legislative leaders released their budget framework last week that would cut the program by $50 million, they say. Justice say the cuts will result in a healthcare crisis in the state.

On The Legislature Today, during his State of the State Address, Gov. Jim Justice presented lawmakers with two plans.

The first was a way to balance the 2018 budget. The second, was a plan to raise more than $1 billion for road construction in the state through a road bond. Since, Justice has been traveling the state promoting that bond plan, but lawmakers have taken little action.

Secretary of the Department of Transportation Tom Smith discusses the proposal and whether Justice has given up on the push for new road funding.

On The Legislature Today, Republican leaders this week released their 2018 budget framework and progressed a bill to reform the state's tax system, while Gov. Jim Justice made changes to his budget bill that he says will result in a $54 million surplus next year. 

Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy Executive Director Garrett Ballengee and Senior Policy Analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Sean O'Leary discuss the plans.

On The Legislature Today, education is once again debated on the Senate floor, but this time the education chair shares concerns over a bill he’s sponsoring.

In the House, delegates progress a Right-to-Work bill one that makes changes to the current law being challenged in the state’s court system.

And advocates are pushing second chance laws that they say will help felons reintegrate into their communities and keep them out of prison in the future.

Those stories and more on The Legislature Today.

On The Legislature Today, education takes the spotlight in both the House and Senate as lawmakers debate bills making major changes in the state’s Pre-K through 12 system.

Senators are set to debate a Common Core repeal on the floor this week, which a Democratic member says is redundant and unnecessary. In the House, members focus on ways to give county school systems more flexibility in light of coming funding cuts.

On The Legislature Today, Republican Legislative leaders have expressed no intention to increase funding for the state's Public Employee's Health Insurance Agency, the healthcare coverage for government employees. That means potential increases in premiums and costs for those covered under the plan.

Dept. of Administration Sec. John Myers and PEIA Director Ted Cheatham discuss the funding for PEIA.

On The Legislature Today, days before Republican Legislative leaders previewed their plan to balance the 2018 budget, members of the House Liberty Caucus came up with a solution of their own.

Delegates Pat McGeehan and Michael Folk introduced their budget bill Thursday in the House of Delegates. It makes cuts to "government bureaucracy" in Charleston, smooths payments to the teacher's retirement system, and cuts Gov. Jim Justice's $105 million "SOS Fund" to not just find a balance, but include a 2 percent pay raise for teachers. 

The delegates discuss their plan and why it should be considered a "blueprint" for their fellow Republicans.

On The Legislature Today, tensions were high in the Senate as a motion to move a bill to the chamber’s Finance Committee turned into a debate over the procedures Senators with years of experience say are being ignored by some members of the majority party.

Members of the House’s Judiciary Committee are considering a bill that its sponsors hope will curb West Virginia’s nursing shortage.

On The Legislature Today, lawmaker have reacted the halfway point of this legislative session and Gov. Jim Justice is pressuring Republican leaders to release their spending plan. 

After some harsh words from the governor during a press conference Friday aimed at the caucus, House Finance Chair Eric Nelson and Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall pushback, defending the legislative process they say is defined in the state's Constitution. 

On The Legislature Today, House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael say their chambers are still diligently working on plans to balance the 2018 budget, but the $497 million gap estimated by the Governor's Office for the coming fiscal year, Carmichael calls it a number inflated by Gov. Jim Justice's want to increase spending. 

Carmichael discusses the Senate's push to "hold the line" on spending while still providing vital government services. 

Armstead says while he would like approve a budget in a bi-partisan fashion, he believes Republican members of his chamber are ready to make the tough decisions when it comes to downsizing government, which likely means laying off state workers. 

On The Legislature Today, there are more than 700 classrooms in the state being led by substitute teachers, more than a dozen local school systems being monitored for a lack of operational funds, and over the past few years, the state Department of Education has reduced its numbers by some 80 positions. 

Still, lawmakers are looking for ways to save money on education, one of the largest drivers of the state's budget.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano discusses the problems that face the state's public education system and what lawmakers can do to address them.

On The Legislature Today, the state of West Virginia’s budget has largely been the focus of this legislative session, overshadowing many of the other bills making their way through the process.

Several pieces of legislation, though, have been introduced to aid the victims of rape and sexual assault in the state. Sen. Mike Woelfel and Nancy Hoffman with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services discuss those bills.

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has sent lawmakers a second budget plan this session and now plans to sweep $120 million in one time monies to balance the 2017 budget.

Lawmakers also got their first look at the $610 million deficit that would be created by the Senate's current tax reform bill that would repeal the personal income tax and replace it with an expanded consumer sales tax. 

State Journal Managing Editor Ann Ali and MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinney recap the week's budget news.

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.

On The Legislature Today, Secretary of State Mac Warner says changing the make-up of his office was necessary after his election in order to move in a new direction. 

A number of the 16 employees were considering filing a wrongful termination lawsuit, but Warner defended his decision saying some of the staff hired to replace them will be out in the field working directly with county clerks, the elected officials he'll work with directly to administer elections. 


On The Legislature Today, the governor releases an alternative plan to balance the 2018 budget-- one legislative leaders seem more open to considering.

 

In the Senate, a bill to clarify the state’s right to work law gets a passing vote and in the House, delegates hold a public hearing to address changed to the state's water quality standards.

On The Legislature Today, Gov. Jim Justice has presented lawmakers with several legislative proposals, including an overhaul of the state's education system aimed at pushing control back to the local level. 

Although he said he hasn't worked through the full proposal, Senate President Mitch Carmichael supports the overarching plan of more flexibility.

"That’s what his initiative in broad terms does," he said. "We support that and we’ll reserve right to comment on the details, but I’m very anxious to work with him on that goal of returning control to the local entities.”

On The Legislature Today, hundreds of pieces of legislation get introduced each legislative session and the House and Senate Judiciary Chairs see most of them. Sen. Charles Trump and Del. John Shott discuss some of those bills, including the ones they call their top priority-- those that deal with substance abuse.

Del. Shott says the House has taken the lead on those bills, which include some to increase penalties for those bringing drugs into the state as well as those selling them.

Sen. Trump says its an issue that plagues the entire state and lawmakers are doing their best to tackle the issue from all sides. 

At The Legislature Today, although the budget has been the top priority for lawmakers this session, it’s implications trickle down into all areas of state government, including education.

Del. Paul Espinosa and Sen. Kenny Mann, chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees, say even though there may be less money for schools, they are working through bills to give counties more flexibility in how they spend that funding.

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