Government

Janet Kunicki

A bill introduced in the Senate is meant to repeal a section of code giving discounts to gasoline wholesalers.

Senator Herb Snyder is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 421. He said in researching areas of state code dealing with gasoline prices, he found a section that essentially gives a rebate to oil and gas companies who own wholesale terminals, only one of which is located in West Virginia.

flag
wikimedia

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is officially in the race for the U.S. Senate.

Capito filed her candidacy papers this morning. The seven-term Republican is seeking to fill the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
 
Another Republican, Larry Eugene Butcher of Washington in Wood County, also filed today to run for the U.S. Senate.

Williamstown Democrat David Walmsley and Parkersburg Republican Matthew Dodrill filed to run for the U.S. Senate last week.

Federal officials have rejected West Virginia's proposal to spend about $2.5 million in funds leftover from a broadband stimulus grant.
 
     State chief technology officer Gale Given tells the Charleston Gazette that the state likely will have to return the unspent funds to the federal government.
 

Office of the Governor

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he was unaware he received campaign checks from top executives at the company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill.
 
     The Democrat said he found about donations from two Freedom Industries executives from news articles Wednesday morning.
 

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the legislature continues to work on how to deal with the effects of the chemical spill, the House of Delegates looked at proposed legislation dealing with future disasters in terms of preparedness and flood insurance.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security discussed House Bill 4147. The bill deals with what can be done in a State of Preparedness.

Ashton Marra

House Bill 4175, The West Virginia Emergency Small Business Act, has two basic provisions.

The first gives the governor authority to direct the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to write emergency rules. Those rules would allow the state to provide some form of monetary assistance to small businesses during a declared State of Emergency.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Politico

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller has written to West Virginia American Water for a second time since the chemical leak at Freedom Industries January 9.

In a letter sent this morning he asked West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre to respond by Friday, Jan. 24.

Rockefeller states he’s deeply concerned that after the “do not use” ban was lifted for people living in Buffalo, Fraziers Bottom and Pliny, further tests revealed levels of Crude MCHM higher than 1ppm.

Aaron Payne

House Bill 4135 would establish the first Thursday in May as the West Virginia Day of Prayer.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Five of Governor Tomblin’s bills were introduced in the Senate Tuesday, many of which were highlighted in his State of the State Address earlier this month:

www.potomaccenter.com

State police are investigating abuse allegations at a nonprofit Romney center that serves children with developmental disabilities.
 
     The state removed 24 children from the Potomac Center last week. The move came after upper management reported the allegations to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
 

House Bill 4014 will increase the criminal penalties for littering in West Virginia.

Part of the bill divides the level of offense by the quantity of the waste into the categories of “not exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet,” “greater than 100 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in, but less than 500 pounds in weight or 216 cubic feet” and “greater than 500 pounds in weight or 216 cubic feet.”

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 

 

The company blamed for a chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without safe drinking water has filed for bankruptcy.

Freedom Industries Inc. filed for bankruptcy Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.

Company president Gary Southern signed the paperwork.

Ashton Marra

The Joint Commission on State Water Resources held its first hearing Friday morning as it’s investigates last week’s chemical spill into the Kanawha. This week, they heard from a state water quality expert and a union leader about where the state’s regulations on containment are lacking.

Senate Majority Leader and the Commission’s co-chairman Senator John Unger introduced legislation to manage and protect the state’s water resources Thursday, but Friday, his commission was focused on getting answers about how to prevent spills from happening in the future.

Ashton Marra

Friday marks eight days since a chemical leaked from a storage tank on the Elk River contaminating the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians, and some are still unable to use their water.

At the Capitol, lawmakers and state leaders are already investigating the spill and looking into new regulations to prevent others from happening in the future. The first piece of legislation to regulate the chemical industry was introduced Thursday in the Senate.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

House Bill 4175 was introduced yesterday and sent to the new Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. The committee approved the bill to be sent to the finance committee, which today approved it to be sent to the floor. The delegates voted unanimously to suspend the second and third readings of the bill to allow immediate action.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The West Virginia Ethics Commission is redoing its December meeting because of a mistake that resulted in an open meetings violation.
 
     The commission has scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 21 to revisit all the items on December's agenda.
 

Provided

Lawmakers are already asking themselves what they can do to prevent a chemical leak like the one on the Elk River from happening again in the future.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Senator John Unger chairs the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources. He is looking into the commission’s power to investigate the incident and propose regulations for the industry.

Aaron Payne

While the legislature’s process has been slowed due to the chemical leak, one office down in the basement of the Capitol continues its function of keeping the public informed.

“We’re essentially called the Office of Public Information or Legislative Information,” Director Drew Ross said.

Paul Mattox
Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting (File Photo)

The state portion of road funding comes from three sources- the gasoline tax, registration fees and a tax on newly purchased vehicles.

Secretary of the Department of Transportation Paul Mattox predicts those revenue sources will remain consistent over the next five years, but findings from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways say to maintain and expand the current system, the state would need an additional $1.3 billion each year.

So, members of the Senate Committee on Transportation are looking for ways to meet that projected need.

Chemical Leak Impedes W. Va. Legislature

Jan 13, 2014
Aaron Payne

Entering the first full week of the second session of the 81st West Virginia Legislature, the normal process has been slowed by a coal cleaning chemical leaking into the water supply of over 300,000 West Virginians. While some work was done today, most of the legislatures’ efforts were toward the safety of the citizens.

The House of Delegates had only 43 members in attendance for its floor session on Monday, which did not allow for a quorum. The House was adjourned until 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Many committee meetings were rescheduled as well.

West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will be the first guest on this season of The Legislature Today. He will discuss the recent chemical leak.

The episode will be taped live today, and will air this evening at 6:30 on West Virginia PBS. The show airs Weekdays while the the legislature is in session.

You can also hear the show at 6:30 on West Virginia Public Radio, or listen live on the internet.

Ashton Marra

John Kaiser of Dunbar has been without water since Thursday. No dishes, no laundry, no shower just like 300,000 other West Virginians.

But Sunday, you could say, was a better day for Kaiser. Sunday one of his three Kanawha County restaurants—a Steak Escape connected to a gas station on Corridor G—was allowed to reopen.

“You had to submit a plan to the health department of how you would meet their standards,” he said. “We did that and they came out (Saturday) night, did a walk through, did an inspection and they approved us.”

Ashton Marra

Businesses in Charleston may soon be allowed to reopen, but West Virginia American Water customers will still have to wait- maybe as long as days- before the “do not use” advisory is lifted.

Kanawha Charleston Health Department Director Dr. Rahl Gutpa said the county health department will begin reviewing plans from businesses that can show they can safely reopen their doors.

He said they will have to find an alternative source of water to be approved and will go through onsite reviews for safety.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Poison Control Center has received nearly 800 calls from concerned residents since a chemical spilled in the Elk River.
 

As Gov. Tomblin's state of emergency remains in effect, the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management is ask asking residents of the nine affected counties to contact their local emergency management offices for information on available and safe water resources.

Major questions remain in the chemical spill from Freedom Industries, Inc. in the contamination of West Virginia American Water supplies across nine counties. West Virginia Public Broadcasting news director Beth Vorhees interviews Mark Glass from Downstream Strategies, Ashton Marra reports on the recent press conference at West Virginia American Water, and Dave Mistich gives a run down of activity on social media.

Stream the audio above to find out the latest from our Charleston news bureau and be sure to follow @wvpublicnews.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has issued a state of emergency and West Virginia American Water is telling more than 100,000 customers (about 300,000 people) in Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam, and Roane counties NOT to ingest, cook, bathe, wash or boil water.  Water in this coverage area is okayed ONLY for flushing and fire protection.

Aaron Payne

With the challenges of a tight budget year ahead, the first goal was immediately understood because balancing the state budget is mandated by the constitution.

West Virginia Legislature

Democratic legislative leaders won't back Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's call for more audits of the West Virginia Legislature, state office holders and agencies.
 

WVEA

Governor Tomblin announced a 2 percent pay raise for teachers during his State of the State Address, but union representatives say the state needs more to keep quality teachers in the classrooms.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said he was glad to hear education is still a top priority for the governor this legislative session, but thinks more can be done for teacher pay.

“We will continue to work with the House and Senate to see if we can improve on that two percent realizing that it’s a starting point,” he said Wednesday.

Pages