Government

Legislature
5:23 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Role of Labor Commissioner Argued in House Committee

Credit West Virginia Legislature

The Government Organization Committee met Friday to discuss a number of bills, one of which was House Bill 2217, relating to the qualifications of the Commissioner of Labor. With a bill that’s been getting a lot of attention, it was relatively quiet in committee today, with only one vocalized vote against it progressing to the floor.

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Courts
3:50 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Tomblin Appoints Successor to Circuit Judge Who Resigned After Affair

  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has appointed an Elkins attorney to succeed a circuit court judge who resigned after admitting having an affair with a corrections official.

Tomblin announced David H. Wilmoth's appointment to the Randolph County judgeship Friday. Wilmoth succeeds Jaymie Wilfong, who resigned in November.

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Government
11:22 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Manchin Backs Prescription-Only Cold Medicine to Stem Meth

Credit Drug Enforcement Agency

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is calling on state lawmakers to make certain cold medicines used to create methamphetamine available by prescription only.

In a letter Thursday, the Democrat asked the Republican-led Legislature to limit pseudoephedrine sales to people with prescriptions. It would apply to cold medicines like Sudafed.

Manchin pointed to successes Oregon and Mississippi, where the medicine is prescription-only.

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Government
11:02 am
Fri January 30, 2015

West Virginia Still Hopes to Turn Ex-Navy Base into Prison

Credit Navy Information Operations Command / U.S. Navy

  West Virginia officials say plans are moving forward to convert part of a soon-to-be closed Navy base in Pendleton County into a state prison.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told legislators Thursday that the state has submitted a formal application to the federal General Services Division to use part of the 122-acre Sugar Grove military base.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the Navy announced plans in 2012 to close the Naval Information Operations Command base.

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Legislature
6:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

North v. South, Republican v. Democrat, Drugs v. Education: Heated Debate in the House

Delegate Patrick McGeehan
Credit Daniel Walker / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the end of every floor session, senators and delegates are allowed to give remarks to the entire body.  In the House Thursday, these remarks led to extended debate about jobs in the north and the lack of them in the south; about drug addiction and education, and the debate lasted for nearly an hour.

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Government
4:40 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

W.Va. Community, Technical College System Chief Leaving

Credit Community and Technical College System of West Virginia

  The chancellor of West Virginia's community and technical college system is leaving after 11 years on the job.

Chancellor James L. Skidmore announced Thursday he will leave his post on June 30. He was the first chancellor of the system.

Since his start in 2004, Skidmore said he worked to secure a 35 percent increase in community and technical college budgets. He also sought improvements to infrastructure and the creation of two advanced technology centers.

A search committee will be formed to find a successor.

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Legislature
3:40 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

In Tight Budget Year, DOC Looking for Boost

DOC Commissioner James Rubenstein before the Senate Finance Committee.
Credit West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Senate Finance Committee continued budget hearings Thursday with state Division of Corrections. Since the passage of the governor’s Justice Reinvestment Act in 2013, the Commissioner of Corrections told lawmakers overcrowding is becoming less and less of an issue, but the division is still asking for a budget increase.

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein presented the governor’s proposed budget for his division for the upcoming fiscal year. In it, the governor is suggesting a budget increase of about $1.8 million from general revenue funds.

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Government
3:06 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

W.Va. GOP Wants Election Changes in Possible Manchin Gubernatorial Bid

As U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin considers a 2016 return bid for governor, Republicans hope to block him from handpicking his Senate successor for two years.

If he reclaims his old job, the Democrat will have served enough of his Senate term that he, as new governor, could name the next senator through 2018.

With majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in more than eight decades, Republicans can stymie Manchin's ability to name a potential replacement.

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Legislature
2:24 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Democratic Senator Questions Need for DOH Audit

Members of the Senate leadership team meet at the podium to discuss some procedural questions during Wednesday's floor session.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate voted on Senate Bill 8 Wednesday, authorizing a performance audit of the state Division of Highways. The bill, which was welcomed by the Department of Transportation, met some opposition on the chamber floor. 

DOT Secretary Paul Mattox told members of both House and Senate committees last week he was all for the bill which authorizes an outside organization to come in and audit the ten DOH districts, looking for areas of inefficiency, better practices, and better allocation of funds, among other criteria. 

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Courts
1:52 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Former Freedom Industries Execs Set for U.S. Arraignment

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Four former Freedom Industries executives are scheduled to be arraigned on a superseding indictment stemming from a chemical spill last January that turned off the water tap to 300,000 people.

The superseding indictment contains a new charge against former Freedom President Gary Southern stemming from the company's bankruptcy and restates the original charges against him and three other former executives.

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Legislature
6:00 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Confusion in the House Government Organization Committee

Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

What started out as a simple committee meeting to examine the progression of a bill turned into an hour of confusion in the House Government Organization Committee Wednesday.

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Legislature
7:16 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Republican Leaders Looking to Get Rid of Extended Budget Session

Sen. Mike Hall and Del. Eric Nelson with Ashton Marra discussing the state's budget on The Legislature Today.
Credit West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Every year state lawmakers take an additional week after their normal legislative session to finalize the budget for the following fiscal year, but Republican lawmakers are looking to change that.

Typically, lawmakers work their way through all of the proposed pieces of legislation in 60 days and come back for an extended budget session the following week to finalize the numbers, but Republican leaders in both the House and Senate want to move away from that tradition.

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Government
2:47 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

W.Va. Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing Well Pad Permit Transfers

Credit Ruhrfisch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) / Wikimedia Commons

  State lawmakers have approved a bill letting companies transfer well permits for oil and natural gas drilling.

The change would help Southwestern Energy Co., which bought $5 billion in assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. last October.

The House of Delegates fast-tracked the bill to a 96-0 vote Wednesday, instead of taking the normal three days.

The Senate did the same last week before a 31-0 vote.

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Energy & Environment
11:59 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Comment Sought on Pipeline Surveys in Monongahela Forest

Credit Dominion Resources

  Federal officials are seeking the public's input on whether surveys for a proposed natural gas pipeline should be allowed in the Monongahela National Forest.

The proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Its path includes about 17 miles through the national forest in Pocahontas and Randolph counties in West Virginia.

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Legislature
6:00 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Tort Reform is Discussed on the House Floor

Minority Leader, Tim Miley
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

When a vehicle accident occurs, who is at fault? And how much should those at fault pay in damages? These are questions the House of Delegates grappled with Tuesday as they discussed abolishing joint liability and implementing comparative fault.

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Student Death
4:28 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Police: WVU Frat Pledge Drank Heavily Before Death

Credit Swimmerguy269 / wikimedia Commons

  Police say a West Virginia University fraternity pledge drank a large amount of alcohol shortly before he died.

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said Tuesday that medical tests showed 18-year-old Nolan Michael Burch's blood alcohol level was 0.493. That's more than six times the legal limit of 0.08.

Preston says Burch was among 20 pledges who participated in a Kappa Sigma initiation function on Nov. 12, 2014. Each pledge received a bottle of liquor from a senior member or alumnus of the fraternity.

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Government
4:24 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

West Virginia Lawmakers to Send Energy Act Repeal to Governor

Credit The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

The Republican-run Legislature needs one vote to send a repeal of an energy portfolio to Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The Senate cast a 33-0 procedural vote Tuesday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The House needs another procedural vote to clear it.

Both chambers previously passed the repeal overwhelmingly.

The portfolio requires generating 25 percent of electricity with alternative power sources by 2025. Some coal-burning technologies qualify.

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Road Funding
2:15 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Bill Would Give Counties Option to Fund Road Construction

Vice Chair of the Morgantown Chamber of Commerce Billy Atkins addressing the Senate Transportation Committee.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In a Senate Transportation Committee meeting Tuesday, Senators were presented with one possible solution for the lack of funding for state roads, one that would allow counties to be more involved in the construction and maintenance process.

Senate Bill 258 is also known as the “Letting Our Counties Act Locally Act” and comes as the result of two years of work from stakeholders in Monongalia County.

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Legislature
6:00 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Future of Small Business to Be Further Discussed in 2015 Legislative Session

Kristina Oliver, the State Director for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, discusses the future of small business with delegates.
Credit Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Owning a business is a dream many people have, but it’s not always easy to start it up and keep it going. Delegates met last week to discuss the future of small businesses in the state.

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Government
4:38 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

W.Va. Opts Not to Pursue Out-of-State Corrections Facility

Credit Schavda / wikimedia Commons

State officials have decided against housing some inmates outside the state.

In 2013, West Virginia had asked national companies to bid on sending West Virginia inmates to their out-of-state facilities in the hopes of curbing the state over crowding problem. The proposal envisioned the short-term transfer of up to 400 inmates who agreed to the move to receive educational and rehabilitative programs.

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