Government

Jennifer Garner
Cliff Owen / AP

Actress Jennifer Garner says growing up "surrounded by generational, rural poverty" in West Virginia inspired her to become an advocate for early-childhood education.

Garner spoke at a meeting of the National Governors Association on Saturday about programs that bring educators into the homes of low-income parents to help them get their kids ready for kindergarten. At one point, her microphone was cut off and she said, "It's like the Oscars!"

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC/ Dr. Terrence Tumpey

West Virginia's health officer says the flu outbreak has increased statewide and is expected to peak in a few weeks.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, says flu activity is widespread in the state.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Delegates are beginning to consider bills that would cut some state agencies, no matter how big or how small they are. Members of one committee Friday looked at a bill that would put an end to an agency that receives about $150,000 in annual funding.

House Bill 2646 would get rid of the West Virginia Women’s Commission. It’s a small state agency with just two employees, one of whom works part-time. The House Government Organization Committee considered the bill Friday morning – where its sponsors defended the proposal.

Bill Crouch
Clark Davis / WV Public Broadcasting

State officials were in Huntington Friday to highlight an organization that could be impacted by cuts, if budget proposals aren’t passed by the legislature.

WV has a budget crisis. Governor Jim Justice’s budget proposal includes more than $450M in tax increases to cover the majority of a $500M deficit. But still programs like the Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Waiver are at risk.

Rock Creek Development Park
Clark / WV Public Broadcasting

One of the last goals of former West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration, was to try to help southern West Virginia economically. Tomblin hopes he’s found a unique way to do that.

Space, that’s one of the things companies look for when they consider locating in West Virginia. They want plenty of it before they’ll commit to moving factories and warehouses to the state, but former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the lack of flat land is often a challenge for those working to diversify West Virginia’s economy.

Governor's Office

Former state tourism commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin is running for mayor of Charleston.

Goodwin announced her candidacy at a news conference Thursday.

A federal appeals court has refused to rehear the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the order Friday.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice waves to the crowd as he delivers his inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Charleston, W.Va.
Walter Scriptunas II / AP Photo

Gov. Jim Justice is calling for legislation to give him authority to furlough state workers to help address the government's budget deficits.

The recently elected Democratic governor earlier proposed tapping the state's rainy day fund to close a projected $123 million gap in the current fiscal year.

Downtown Richwood, WV, at dawn after hours of heavy rain flooded the little town.
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's U.S. senators say the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing a $1.9 million grant to the state.

According to U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, the funds will be used by the Nicholas County School District for protective measures to secure temporary facilities destroyed or damaged in flooding last June.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

DMAPS, the shorthand for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, is an area of the budget that, according to Senate Finance Chair Mike Hall, can be difficult to cut. At $350 million, it’s a fairly sizable part of state government and houses the regional jails, prisons, homeland security office, State Police, and a few other divisions.

During the department’s budget presentation Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice’s newly appointed Secretary Jeff Sandy told senators he’s only officially been in his position for just over a month, but he’s already looking to make changes that will result in savings.

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. 

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

State Senators have approved a bill that makes it illegal to share a personal, private image of another person without his or her consent.

Senate Bill 240 was drafted by students at Bethany College in the state's Northern Panhandle and finessed in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee creating the misdemeanor offense. 

Perry Bennett / WV Legislative Photography

While lawmakers discuss ways to fix the state’s projected budget deficit, a related piece of legislation is beginning to take shape -- the creation of a state earned income tax credit.

An earned income tax credit, or EITC, is an extra lump of cash refunded to low-income, working families every year at tax time. The amount a family receives varies, but it’s based on a person’s income and the number of children in the home, but only working adults qualify. The credit is meant to help struggling families get ahead and many use the extra funds to make major purchases like cars, or large appliances.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle are reacting to Gov. Jim Justice’s announcement Tuesday that the state’s bond rating had been downgraded by the third national rating agency in a year.

Moody’s dropped the state’s rating from AA1 to AA2.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

One of the first bills introduced on behalf of Governor Jim Justice is one aimed at organizing the number of state-owned vehicles. The governor’s version of this bill, House Bill 2492, was introduced in the House of Delegates last week and referred to the committee on Government Organization. But lawmakers in that committee took up a different yet similar bill drafted by members in the House.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Health Committee in the House of Delegates are considering a bill that could potentially create an easier path for new healthcare providers to set up shop in West Virginia.

House Bill 2259 was taken up by the House’s Health Committee Tuesday afternoon. It would allow the West Virginia Healthcare Authority to provide exemptions for Certificates of Need.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate has approved a bill that changes the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits for striking workers. 

The chamber approved Senate Bill 222, 22 to 11, with one Senator absent on Wednesday.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Lawmakers are 14 days into this legislative session and so far, not a single bill dealing with broadband expansion has been introduced. The issue received attention early last session, but lawmakers say they’re still working on a plan to reach both unserved and underserved areas of West Virginia.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The third bond rating agency in a year announced Tuesday it would be downgrading West Virginia's rating, from AA1 to AA2. 

West Virginia’s Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy announced the decision during a press conference at the Capitol with Gov. Jim Justice.

“This just makes me sick," Justice said after the announcement. "I mean, that’s just all there is to it."

Jim Justice
Steve Helber / AP

Tax liens show Gov. Jim Justice's coal companies still owe cash-strapped West Virginia $4.4 million in unpaid state taxes due at least a year ago.

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