Government

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.”

WVAW President: Days Before Water is Returned

Jan 11, 2014
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.

Martin Valent/WV Legislature Office of Public Information

In his fourth State of the State address, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin touted his administration's accomplishments over the past year, including multiple multi-million dollar investments made by some major international corporations in the final months of 2012.

But his main focus was moving the state forward, his goals for the upcoming legislative session, and, perhaps most importantly, his thoughts on how to accomplish those goals in an obviously tight budget year.

“Governing, like gardening, takes planning, patience and foresight,” Tomblin began.

Jessica Wintz / Facebook

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin  delivered the 2014 State of the State Address Wednesday night in the House Chamber at the State Capitol.  

      Gov. Tomblin’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are included below:

 

"Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the Legislature, Members of the Board of Public Works, Justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Members of the State Board of Education, distinguished guests, and my fellow West Virginians.

W.Va. House of Delegates Opens 2014 Session

Jan 8, 2014
Aaron Payne

The 81st House of Delegates began its 60-day session Wednesday at the Capitol.

After most of the general housekeeping was taken care of, the delegates introduced 15 bills, both new and interim, to be sent to the various committees.

A few highlights of the bills introduced are:

HB 4003. Granting dual jurisdiction to counties where a student who lives in one county and attends school in another in order to enforce truancy policies.

HB 4009. Permitting institutions of higher education to perform background checks.

A former Fairmont State University official faces up to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzlement and tax charges.
 
     Forty-five-year-old David A. Tamm of Parkersburg pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to embezzling from a state agency receiving federal funds. He also admitted falsely reporting less income than he received on his 2012 federal income tax return.
 

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

State regulators have issued a pollution violation notice to an oil and gas drilling company following a tank explosion at a Tyler County well site.
 
     The Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday that the tank ruptured on Jan. 2 at Jay-Bee Oil & Gas' Lisby gas well pad. Fluid leaked from the tank onto grounds surrounding the well pad.
 

Report: 3,000 Jobs Created in 2013

Jan 8, 2014
WVU College of Business and Economics

The West Virginia University College of Business and Economics presented their state economic outlook to lawmakers Wednesday.

The report says West Virginia is seeing growth in the areas of employment and per capita personal income.

According to the study, approximately 3,000 jobs were added in the past year, with the natural resource and mining sector contributing most to the increase.

Aaron Payne

The Healthy Kids and Families Coalition presented 11 issues known as the Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty and then hand-delivered them to legislators at the Capitol Tuesday. The group wants these issues made priority as the 60-day  session begins Wednesday.

Those 11 issues include:

1. Protect Funding for Family Support Programs

The goal is to keep Family Resource Networks and Starting Points Family Resource Centers across the state funded.

2. In-Home Family Education Programs/Early Childhood

Ashton Marra

Forty-eighth in job creation, 50th in median household income, 49th in K-12 achievement--all statistics House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said his party is looking to improve upon this legislative session during a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday.

This year, the Republican caucus is focused on growing the state’s economy through tax reform, setting priorities for existing revenue sources and strengthening education.

“They need to focus on putting people back to work,” Armstead said of the Democratic leadership in his chamber.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The results of a preliminary legislative audit have found evidence of mismanagement of a $5 million revolving loan program administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

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