Government

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

West Virginia lawmakers have begun advancing revisions in coal mining regulation after removing provisions that would have sharply reduced safety inspections of underground mines.

The Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining approved a substitute bill that would have chopped required annual state safety inspections from four to one.

needles
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

The number of reported overdose deaths that occurred last year in West Virginia has continued to rise.

Citing data released Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that at least 844 people died in the state of drug overdoses in 2016.

AP Photo / Jeff Gentner

The state Board of Education has selected former state schools Superintendent Steve Paine for his second stint in the job.

The board approved Paine's appointment Thursday by unanimous vote after interviewing him and two other finalists in private. His appointment is effective next Monday.

Chad Lovejoy
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A House Judiciary Subcommittee reconsidered a bill Thursday that barely made it through the legislative process on the final night of the 2016 session.

That bill required West Virginians to bring some form of identification with them when they go to cast a ballot at their polling place. It also set up an automatic voter registration process between the Secretary of the State’s office and the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Delegates initially intended to gut parts of that law altogether this year, but have since worked on a compromise.

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

U.S. Census figures show population declines in West Virginia's southern coal-producing counties led to an overall drop in the state's population last year.

The figures released Thursday show 47 of the state's 55 counties lost population from 2015 to 2016, including 20 counties that lost more than 200 residents.

Gee delivers his 2017 State of the University address.
West Virginia University

In the midst of struggling with proposed state budget cuts, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee gave his State of the University address yesterday, emphasizing the university’s importance to the state as a whole as well as its dedication to free speech. 

Gee used the address on Wednesday, March 22, to emphasize his stance that the university is an investment for the state, and not an item to be cut by state lawmakers.

Flood
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On June 23, 2016, West Virginia experienced some of the worst flooding in the state’s storied history. During the past 52 years, 282 West Virginians have died in floods, including the 23 who perished last summer after historic water levels led to a federal disaster declaration in 12 counties.

Nine months later, communities are still recovering from the high water. 

West Virginia Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice says he and his staff will be waiting for lawmakers in his “war room”—a conference room in the Governor’s Office—every morning until the end of the legislative session to work on a budget compromise.

Justice held the first of those meetings Wednesday, which was attended by six members of the Democratic caucus from both the House and Senate.

Stephen Baldwin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Both the House and Senate are considering bills this year to change the state’s education standards once again. It’s a reoccurring theme at the statehouse since Republican lawmakers took control of the chamber in 2015.

In the Senate, lawmakers have approved a bill that does not replace the current college and career ready standards taught in schools, but calls for a cyclical review of those standards with the input of West Virginia teachers.

In the House, however, the discussion over potential changes is just beginning.

A major prescription drug distributor is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company fueled West Virginia's opioid epidemic with excessively large shipment of painkillers.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports an attorney for AmerisourceBergen said McDowell County commissioners are misguided in in blaming drug distributors for the drug problem.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Three finalists have been named for the state schools superintendent position that Michael Martirano plans to vacate.

The state Department of Education says in a news release that the finalists are former state schools Superintendent Steve Paine, state career and technical education officer Kathy D'Antoni and Jackson County schools Superintendent Blaine Hess.

Unemployment Line
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

West Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen four-tenths of a percentage point to 5.2 percent in February.

WorkForce West Virginia says the number of unemployed residents fell by 3,300 to 40,300. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 1,700.

Jason Barrett, Erikka Storch
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

As lawmakers try to find ways to deal with the state’s financial problems, the House Finance Committee discussed a bill that could put $9 million back in the budget. The bill originating in the House’s Finance Committee would end the Racetrack Modernization Fund.

West Virginia Governor's Office

Gov. Jim Justice joined energy workers from across West Virginia for a rally at the Capitol Tuesday morning to promote the natural gas industry in the state.

On The Legislature Today, Governor Jim Justice is declaring a symbolic State of Emergency in West Virginia due to Republican plans to cut Medicaid dollars.

Legislative leaders released their budget framework last week that would cut the program by $50 million, they say. Justice say the cuts will result in a healthcare crisis in the state.

juror box
Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's House has voted down legislation that would have reduced the number of potential jurors that a defendant can remove before trial while increasing the number prosecutors can strike.

Under current law, defendants can reject six jurors while prosecutors can reject two.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

West Virginia's Senate has voted to permit the sale of used cars that cannot even run provided their condition is disclosed.

The bill approved 33-1 on Tuesday would authorize "as is" sales of vehicles without the usually required implied warranties that they are operable and can pass state safety inspections.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Jim Justice has made two appointments to the Legislative Compensation Commission, which he has asked to limit West Virginia lawmakers' pay to five days for any special session needed to pass a state budget.

According to the governor's office, the commission has authority make salary recommendations. Justice has proposed legislation to cap legislator pay at five days during a special session.

John Shott
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

House Bill 2966 would put together an independent panel and create the West Virginia Sentencing Commission.

It was taken up by the House Judiciary Committee Monday afternoon and is sponsored by House Speaker Tim Armstead.

WVU RIfle Team 2017 Title
msnsportsnet.com

The West Virginia rifle team is showing off its NCAA championship trophy at an open house.

WVU says in a news release that fans can greet coach Jon Hammond and his team on Tuesday evening at the WVU Rifle Range in Morgantown.

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