Front Porch

Brad McElhinny / WV Metronews

Brad McElhinny almost missed the first rumblings of the teacher's strike.

This issue was on almost nobody's radar screen until MLK Day, when Brad stumbled into West Virginia Education Association president Dale Lee at a teacher's rally at the Capitol.

What Are the Lessons from the Teachers' Strike?

Mar 9, 2018
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Now that the teacher and school employee work stoppage is finally at an end, Rick Wilson and Jessi Troyan are on the Front Porch take a look back and try to determine what comes next.

Is this really a resolution where everyone involved can "take home a win"?

With talk of similar actions in similar actions in Pittsburgh and Oklahoma, could this be a sign of more to come?

What does way the strike was handled on both sides say about West Virginia as a state?

Scott Finn / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The walkout of school employees is entering its second week, and there's no sign of it stopping yet.

Will teachers and their supporters "remember in November," and if so, will this help unions and their political supporters?

Or will there be a backlash that cancels out labor's efforts in West Virginia?

Brad McElhinny / WV Metronews

Every public school in West Virginia was closed Thursday and Friday as thousands of school employees flooded the state Capitol, asking for larger pay increases and a fix for the state employees health insurance system.

The Legislature has already passed a 2 percent pay raise for all state employees and promised to freeze insurance premiums for 17 months - but many teachers and school employees say it's not enough.


What works in recovery from opioid addiction, and how can we educate West Virginians about it?

That's what we learn this week from Dr. Michael Brumage, new director of the Office of Drug Control Policy in West Virginia.

Investment Europe

$8.8 billion. That's what a new study estimates the opioid epidemic is costing the West Virginia economy every year.

That's 12 percent of the state's GDP, and more than any other state.

On this week's Front Porch podcast, we debate the opportunity cost of opioid addiction for our economy - and how we can get out of this mess.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online

Legendary Charleston Gazette Publisher Ned Chilton called it "sustained outrage." He said it wasn't enough to do a story or two about an injustice - it took in-depth coverage to fix a wrong.

But with the Gazette-Mail going bankrupt, supporters are concerned about that tradition of investigative reporting. How can we keep accountability journalism healthy and strong in West Virginia?

Who Overdoses and Why?

Jan 26, 2018

Most people who overdose on opioids have seen a health care provider in the last year, and many had recently been released from jail, according to a new study from West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

This suggests that overdoses can be prevented with the right intervention.

Here are some of the findings, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Perry Bennett / Legislative Photography

Gov. Justice’s second State of the State made full use of several props, two whiteboards and his entire girls’ basketball team.

Justice also laid out what he thought was really important in his speech. Here are two themes I heard: finally turning the corner on the opioid epidemic, and helping young people find technical and vocational careers.

How bad is the staffing crisis in West Virginia's jails and prisons?

So bad, Gov. Jim Justice asked the National Guard to help with staffing. And he signed an order allowing corrections employees to keep unused vacation time, because they've been forced to work so much overtime.

The rise of entrepreneurship in West Virginia is one of the top 5 trends shaping our state in 2018.  

Congress has passed the GOP tax bill – will it help the people of West Virginia?

That’s the debate we’re having on The Front Porch podcast this week, with liberal columnist Rick Wilson with the American Friends Service Committee, and guest host Jessi Troyan, Ph.D. economist with the free-market Cardinal Institute in Charleston.

Shockingly, they have starkly different takes on the tax bill. Wilson says its another step toward turning America into an oligarchy, and a trojan horse designed to force cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

About one in three West Virginia high school grads needs to take remedial classes when they go to college – and that number is growing. Why are so many new college students so unprepared?

Also on this week’s podcast, we’ll break down the results of the Alabama Senate race. If a Democrat can win there, what does that mean for West Virginia’s congressional races?

Allegations about sexual harassment and assault are rocking the political and media worlds at the national level (including public media) - but what about West Virginia?

On this week's Front Porch podcast, we discuss when that shoe might drop in West Virginia. 

It's Thanksgiving week! Let's take a break from politics and talk pop culture. 

In "Game of Thrones," siblings Cersei and Jamie Lannister enjoy a loving and suportive relationship. But Front Porch host Laurie Lin can't get past the "ick" factor.

Simple, transparent and broad-based - that's the sort of tax system The Cardinal Institute would like to create through tax reform.

Executive Director Garrett Ballengee says the current GOP plans are not perfect, but they take the tax code in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Front Porch co-host Rick Wilson worries about starving federal programs such as Medicaid and eduction.

But Wilson and Ballengee agree on one thing - they both love "For the Love of Money"


The opioid epidemic. Obesity. Low workforce participation. These adult problems have their roots in childhood trauma.

Dr. Michael Brumage wants West Virginians to understand what the research shows - that exposure to childhood trauma can lead to a variety of public health problems in adulthood.

Brumage is talking about ACES: Adverse Childhood Experiences. In a recent study, West Virginia children scored higher than the national average of 46 percent.

What will President Trump's executive orders do to the insurance market in West Virginia?

Kara Lofton has been reporting on that issue, and she says it could mean 19,000 West Virginians seeing premium increases averaging $1,200 on the Afforadable Healthcare Act exchanges. Meanwhile, Trump's order to allow associations to sell insurance across state lines could lower rates for some.

Lofton speaks with Scott Finn and Rick Wilson on this week's Front Porch podcast about what this means for rural healthcare.

What if West Virginia had never split from Virginia during the Civil War? Would the citizens of present-day West Virginia be better off as Virginians?

On one hand, Virginia is a larger and wealthier state. Would that mean more money for poorer West Virginia residents? Better schools or roads?

Or, would distant Richmond ignore its western citizens - just like it did in 1863?

Host Laurie Lin is moving back to Virginia, and she argues a merger could benefit us all. Rick and Scott aren't so sure.

There's a surprising correlation between guns and West Virginia's Trump voters. Also, the fight over school consolidation goes to the Supreme Court. And our favorite Tom Petty songs. On this week's Front Porch podcast.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

It's been almost two months since Governor Jim Justice, elected as a Democrat, changed his party affiliation to Republican. WV MetroNews's Brad McElhinny talks to Laurie and Rick about the reasons behind the switch, and examine whether it's made the job of governing any easier for Justice. Will it help him with the upcoming road bond referendum?

Country Roads

Sep 21, 2017

On this episode of The Front Porch - we announce a sad departure.

Also, what is it about "Country Roads?" Why do North Korean waitresses love it so much?

And finally, why are our country roads in such crappy condition, and should we vote "Yes" on the road bond to fix them?

The Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy is sponsoring a big intellectual shindig here in Charleston on Thursday with the American Conservative Union. It's called, "West Virginia on the Rise: Rebuilding the Economy, Rebuilding Lives."

The conference features speeches by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.

There also will be panel discussions with national experts on drug abuse, the economy, and changes in the family.

Why does Laurie object to Game of Thrones? What is "Hillbilly Nerd Talk?"

And, what is the perfect coal Haiku?

Find out these answers, and Walking Dead! In this Front Porch podcast.


Governor Jim Justice is pitching a proposal to President Trump: the federal government should subsidize eastern coal at $15 a ton to protect the power grid.

Justice says it's a matter of national security - at times of war or terrorist attack, eastern coal is needed to keep the lights on along the Eastern Seaboard.

It was only a pair of shoes -- Nike Cortez shoes, to be exact.

On the other hand, these shoes had the power to divide West Virginia teenagers into two camps: Hillers who could easily afford them, and Creekers who could not.

This week, we discuss an episode of Trey Kay's podcast "Us & Them" called "Hillers and Creekers." It's about shoes, pickup trucks, and the things that divide us, beginning in school.


After Charlottesville, we wonder if racism and fascism are on the rise across America and/or West Virginia.

Front Porch host Scott Finn found a survey showing white millennials were just as likely to hold racist beliefs as baby boomers and Gen Xers. Why do more than one third of whites still tell researchers that "blacks are lazier than whites"?

In West Virginia, a growing number of working-age adults are qualifying for federal disability benefits. But once they're receiving an SSI or SSDI check, they rarely return to work.

And that's leading to growing resentment across Appalachia of some people with disabilities.

"I did not come to Washington to hurt people."

That is how Sen. Shelley Moore Capito announced, on Twitter, she would not support the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses her concerns "and the needs of West Virginians."

Capito was one of a handful of GOP Senators who dealt the Obamacare repeal a serious blow this week.

Is "Trumpcare" dead? And if so, what does that mean for heathcare in West Virginia, and for Capito's political future. Listen to the Front Porch podcast to find out.

WVU Today

The state Legislature just cut $16 million from higher education, starting this month. Meanwhile, WVU announced a 5 percent tuition increase.

What’s that mean for students and the state as a whole? We have WVU Vice President for Legal, Government and Entrepreneurial Engagement Rob Alsop on The Front Porch podcast.