WV Legislature

Legislature
5:11 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Senate Amends Water Protection Bill

Credit Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislature

Senators offered amendments Monday to Senate Bill 373, relating to water resources protection.

Senate Judiciary Chair Corey Palumbo offered new exclusions as well as substantive amendments:

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Senate
4:13 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Details Investigation for Lawmakers

Chemical Safety Board Investigator Johnnie Banks responds to questions of the Joint Commission on State Water Resources.
Credit Ashton Marra

The Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources held its third hearing related to the Kanawha Valley chemical leak Friday, receiving testimony for the first time from those conducting the on-site investigation.

Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board Rafael Moure-Eraso explained his team of four investigators is in the preliminary phases in an investigation that could take up to a year to complete.

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Senate
2:55 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Senator Defends Swift Movement on Water Bill

Senate Judiciary Chair Senator Corey Palumbo
Credit West Virginia Legislature

Senate Bill 373, the bill regulating above ground storage tanks, advanced through the committee process quickly this week causing concern for some members of the upper chamber.

In a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, many expressed more time was necessary with the bill. Despite the discontent with the process, the bill was passed by the committee unanimously Thursday.

“It has moved more quickly than a lot of bills do in the Legislature,” said Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Corey Palumbo Friday, “but I think the public wants to see us act.”

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Senate
4:20 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Governor's Budget Allows for Private Prison Payments

Commissioner Jim Rubenstein testifies before the Senate Finance Committee.
Credit Janet Kunicki

During the Division of Corrections budget hearing, Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said the governor’s proposed budget for the division includes additional funding for provisions of Senate Bill 371, the governor’s prison reform bill. It includes increases for the transition of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth to the Salem Correctional Center.

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Senate
3:43 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Senator Calls Gasoline Discount Unconstitutional

Senator Craig Blair used a map showing gasoline prices around the state to show the difference in prices both regionally and in surrounding states. The map shows prices at the highest in the Eastern Panhandle at $3.55 and the lowest in Huntington at $3.15 as of Jan. 21, 2014.
Credit 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.

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Senate
4:45 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Senators Question Vagueness of Emergency Small Business Act

Legislative Counsel Doren Burrell explains House Bill 4175 to the Senate Committee on Economic Development.
Credit 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.

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Senate
3:09 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Governor's Agenda Pushing through the Senate

The state Capitol dome.
Credit Ashton Marra

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:

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Chemical Leak
5:19 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Tomblin Calls for New Regulatory Powers for DEP

Governor Tomblin announced his legislation during a press conference surrounded by Sen. Joe Manchin, Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Tim Miley.
Credit Ashton Marra

After more than a week since a chemical spill on the Elk River, some West Virginia American Water customers are still questioning the quality of the water running out of their taps.

“Make no mistake, the discharge of chemicals or other contaminants is unacceptable and neither I nor anyone standing here with me today will tolerate it in West Virginia,” Governor Tomblin said after he thanked the people of West Virginia for their patience as he and emergency officials worked to restore water service to more than 300,000 West Virginians.

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WV Legislature
2:27 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Senate Commission Begins Leak Investigation

Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz of the West Virginia Water Research Institute shares his findings with the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources.
Credit 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.

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WV Legislature
5:34 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Senate Bill Requires Storage Facilities Inspected

The West Virginia Senate.
Credit 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.

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W. Va. House
5:18 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

W. Va. House Passes Bill to Help Small Businesses Recover From Chemical Leak

Credit 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.

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West Virginia Morning
12:20 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

A Puzzling Astronomical Discovery, Legislative Coverage & More

  On this West Virginia Morning, a new astronomical discovery is puzzling researchers around the state. Also legislative coverage from the Senate and House.

You can subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads . 

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WV Legislature
4:16 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Senator Wants Health and Environmental Regulations after Chemical Leak

Senator Ron Stollings of Boone County
Credit 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.

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W. Va. Capitol
6:30 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Capitol Office Keeps W. Va. Citizens Informed About Legislature

Outside of the Office of Legislative Information
Credit 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.

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Transportation
5:41 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Legislation Could Give Some Local Control Over Roads

State Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox updates the Senate Committee on Transportation on the state of the department.
Credit 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.

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2014 Elections
11:59 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Which Candidates Filed First for the 2014 Election?

Fifty candidates file on the first day of filing period for 2014 elections.
Credit wikimedia

The first day that candidates could file for elective office in West Virginia drew one candidate for the U.S. Senate and four for the U.S. House.

Williamstown Democrat David Wamsley filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State's office yesterday for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

 
 Filing for the 3rd District U.S. House seat held by 19-term Democrat Nick Rahall are Republican Cabell County Sen. Evan Jenkins and retired Army officer Richard Ojeda II, a Democrat from Logan County.

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W. Va. Legislature
8:06 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Chemical Leak Impedes W. Va. Legislature

The House of Delegates with many empty seats for Monday's floor session.
Credit 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.

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Legislature
4:56 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

House Finance Gets Initial Look at Govenor's Budget Proposal

House Finance Chair Brent Boggs and Deputy Secretary of Revenue Mark Muchow discuss the governor's budget proposal in front of the House Finance Committee.
Credit 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.

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Public Education
9:39 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Union Leader Says 2 Percent a Start in Teacher Pay Raise

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee
Credit 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.

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State of the State
8:39 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Tomblin Focused on Fiscal Responsibility, Education

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issues his State of the State Address in the House Chamber. Seated behind him are Senate President Jeff Kessler and newly elected House Speaker Tim Miley.
Credit 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.

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