Government

Strawberries
Parvathisri / Wikimedia Commons

Organizers of the West Virginia Strawberry Festival are looking for local growers to stock a market with berries at this year's event.

The festival board, the city of Buckhannon and the state Department of Agriculture are working with private farmers to have fresh strawberries available for sale on May 20 and 21. This year's festival runs from May 13 through 21 in Buckhannon.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

At the start of this legislative session, Republican leaders warned that public education could be on the chopping block, seeing reductions that the system has historically been protected from. During a recent press conference, both House Speaker Tim Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael said they’ll work to mitigate the harm to classrooms and teachers, but funding will be reduced. The House’s Education Chairman says with those funding reductions, lawmakers are working to give county school systems more flexibility in how they spend their limited dollars.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Governor Jim Justice was in Huntington Wednesday to discuss what he says is a need for improved infrastructure in the state.

As part of the Save Our State Tour, Governor Jim Justice was at the Marshall University Engineering School Wednesday. His mission was to point out the construction and engineering jobs that would be created if his $2.8 billion roads plan succeeds in the state. Justice said changes have to be made throughout the state and that’s including a crumbling infrastructure.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate’s Transportation Committee has voted to advance a bill that would hike some taxes and fees to help increase funding for the state’s roadways. 

The bill was presented to lawmakers by Gov. Jim Justice, but is not part of his plan to generate more than $1 billion in revenues for a bond initiative. 

Oxycodone
Toby Talbot / AP

A Raleigh County doctor accused of illegally distributing painkillers to three patients who later died has backed out of a plea deal.

Dr. Michael Kostenko was expected to enter into a deal with prosecutors on Monday and plead guilty to one count of distribution. Instead, Kostenko pleaded not guilty.

Ed Evans
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Courtesy Patrol is a state funded roadside assistance service. But as members in the House continue to look for places to cut to balance the 2018 budget, delegates have set their sights on the program’s $5 million budget.

The courtesy patrol has been around for almost 20 years. It’s a non-profit of the Citizens Conservation Corp through a contract with the West Virginia Division of Highways.To-date, the patrol has received over 3 million calls and employs nearly 100 people.

Sarah Tucker
http://wvctcs.org

West Virginia's Community and Technical College System chancellor, Sarah Tucker, is testifying this week before a congressional subcommittee.

Tucker will appear before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies at a hearing on STEM education, or science, technology, engineering and math.

C-SPAN 2

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin plans to participate in four town hall meetings being organized by constituents this week.

The West Virginia Democrat says in a news release that first two meetings will be held Thursday morning at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center in Martinsburg and that evening at the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

While Republican legislative leaders haven’t unveiled an actual bill, they have unveiled a more detailed plan for balancing the state’s budget. Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead announced those plans during a press conference Monday

The plan is based on a premise Carmichael calls "novel" in state government: spending only the amount of money the state actually has. 

Eric Householder
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Department of Commerce gave the House and Senate Finance committees a presentation Monday morning to explore the state's competitiveness in attracting businesses.

The Commerce department also asked for a significant increase in its funding. However, that request collided with the reality of the state’s dire budget situation.

Two Boone County public school employees are suing because they say their paycheck deductions didn't properly go toward paying for requested supplemental retirement and supplemental insurance coverage.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that a lawsuit was filed recently in Boone Circuit Court against the Boone school board, the school system's current and former superintendents and Stephen Green, the system's director and coordinator of support services.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Members of the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform have approved their bill to restructure the state's tax code. 

The committee substitute for Senate Bill 335 was passed out of the committee Monday morning, the first step in its process to completion.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Dave Mistich reports from McDowell County where Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont held a town hall meeting last night to focus on rural America and from the statehouse, Ashton Marra reports on the work of the Senate’s Select Committee on Tax Reform. 

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story. 

 

AP

West Virginia lawmakers are weighing whether to stop requiring state registration of nearly 27,000 storage tanks that can hold up to 210 barrels of brine water and crude oil produced in drilling for oil and natural gas.

At a House hearing Monday, a dozen oil and gas producers say their tanks contain harmless organic materials far from water system intakes, unlike the massive 2014 spill from a chemical tank that shut down the Charleston area's water supply for nine days. They say that they already comply with other similar regulations.

Anthony Jenkins
West Virginia State University

West Virginia State University is inaugurating Anthony L. Jenkins as its 11th president this week.

The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. Friday in Ferrell Hall. A ceremonial tree planting will be held at about 3:30 p.m., and a reception in honor of Jenkins and celebrating the university's 126th anniversary will follow at the James C. Wilson University Union.

F. Brian Ferguson / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Despite hailing from Vermont, former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders attempted to shine a light on poverty in middle America this weekend with a stop in West Virginia. Sanders held a town hall in McDowell County for an MSNBC taping of “All In with Chris Hayes.”  

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

Editor's Note: This bill was revised by the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform Monday, March 13. The revisions are explained in a new story on this website. 

Over the weekend, members of the Senate’s Select Committee on Tax Reform were presented with the latest version of a bill to overhaul West Virginia’s tax structure.

This is the third version of the legislation the 7 member committee has seen, but they’ve yet to take a vote on the measure. That vote, however, expected to come Monday.

Patricia Rucker
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill to prohibit any Common Core-based education standards from being taught in West Virginia classrooms was taken up in the Senate’s Education committee Saturday. The standards have been debated for years at the statehouse and now lawmakers are looking at legislation that specifies what can be taught.

PunchingJudy / Flickr

Ohio County sheriff's deputies are soon going to start carrying antidotes for opioid overdoses.

WTRF-TV reports that the Ohio County commission on Tuesday announced their approval for deputies to carry Naloxone, which reverses the symptoms of an opioid overdose.

Pipeline ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

West Virginia residents were divided during the final state public hearing on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry natural gas down the center of West Virginia for 195 miles.

Several urged state permit approvals for the project and its jobs. Some others at the Thursday hearing warned of damage from construction, erosion and the aerial herbicide spraying along the right of way that would continue perpetually.

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