Chris Schulz Published

Police Investigation, Legislation Focus Of Governor’s Briefing

A picture of glue and red siren lights on top of a police cruiserEdward Kimmel/Flickr

Questions continue to surround the traffic stop of a state cabinet secretary last week. 

West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston was stopped by Charleston Police last week but was not charged or cited. The following day, Charleston City Police announced an internal investigation to determine if the stop was handled appropriately.

During his regular briefing Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice praised Wriston’s work and said it was important “to make sure that we are on solid ground before we start accusing people.” 

“But once we get there, you know, my feelings are really simple,” he said. “I’ll address it. And right now there’s enough stuff here that doesn’t look very good, you know. But let’s just wait, let’s just wait.”

The governor said more information will be made available once the police investigation is concluded.

New Secretary

Earlier in the briefing, Justice signed Senate Bill 790, which changes the title of Curator of Arts to Cabinet Secretary of Arts, Culture and History. The governor was joined by the newly titled Secretary Randall Reid-Smith to sign a proclamation creating “Arts Day.”

“For every dollar we invest in the arts and history and culture in this state, you know, we return $11 almost immediately,” Justice said. “For every state dollar we receive in funding, there’s a return of $21.”

State Employees

Justice was also asked about proposed pay raises for certain state employees. The House of Delegates passed House Bill 4883 Wednesday. The bill would implement the 5 percent pay increase for state police and school personnel that Justice discussed during his state of the state address Jan. 10.

The governor said he was glad the House had moved the bill and hopes the Senate moves the bill quickly to help hard-working state employees affected by inflation.

“The Biden inflation that has been caused is tough on people. It’s playing tough,” Justice said. “That’s all there is to it. And we can say ‘Oh, well, it’s all gonna get straightened up.’ Maybe, maybe, but maybe not. And people got to go the grocery store and they’ve got to pay the bills, and they’ve got to pay for childcare and everything else under the sun. So all our all of our state workers, you know, I’m proud of you.”