Government

Abortion-Restricting Bill Rejected With Tie Vote

Feb 11, 2014
Daniel Walker

A vote resulting in a tie is a rarity in the legislature but one occurred Tuesday in the House of Delegates.

There were no bills up for passage but, with it being “Pro-Life Day” at the Capitol, there was an attempt made to discharge House Bill 2364 from committee to be put to a vote on the floor.

The University of Charleston has announced plans to start a 2-year associate degree in nursing program at
its Beckley campus.

At a news conference University of Charleston Regional President Jerry Forster said the school has notified the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses and will begin the accreditation process.

He says leaders at Raleigh General Hospital and Beckley Appalachian Regional Healthcare have conveyed the message that more nurses are needed to fill shortages.

WV Legislative Photography

Senate Bill 534 was introduced in the Senate Tuesday to increase the excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The proposal would mean a $1 increase in taxes on a pack of cigarettes to $1.55 total. On all other tobacco products, the tax increases from 7 percent of the wholesale price to 50 percent.

“From a polling standpoint, people say they don’t have a problem with increasing cigarette taxes,” said Senator Bob Plymale, the bill’s lead sponsor.

wikimedia / Wikimedia

State regulators are investigating the spill of 108,000 gallons of coal slurry at a preparation plant into a Kanawha River tributary in eastern Kanawha County.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman says a slurry line ruptured early Tuesday at Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle Prep plant near Winifrede.

Huffman says the spill area involves six miles of Fields Creek and one-half mile of the Kanawha River.

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Aaron Payne

Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

The House Finance Committee amended H.B. 4283 to increase minimum wage by 75 cents to $8.00 per hour by January of 2015 and then add another 75 cents by January of 2016 to total $8.75. The amendment delayed those changes from July 2014 and 2015 respectively so that businesses could have time to budget for the increase.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

Federal prosecutors say 15 people have been charged with distributing tens of thousands of prescription painkillers in the Ohio Valley area of West Virginia.
 
     U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II announced the unsealing of an 83-count indictment on Monday. It alleges the powerful painkiller oxycodone and other prescription drugs were funneled into West Virginia from northern Ohio and Detroit.
 

The Allegheny Front speaks with news director Beth Vorhees about the latest on the Elk River chemical spill and where we are one month later.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislature

A state Senate committee has approved a proposal to invest some of West Virginia's oil and natural gas revenues for future infrastructure and economic development.

Ashton Marra

Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianato testified before the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Water Resources Friday, answering questions about the state testing water quality in homes.

Joe Ravi / wikimedia Commons

The company that employed two workers killed in the collapse of two cellphone towers in Clarksburg was fined after a fatal accident in 2009 in Missouri.
 

West Virginia will receive $3.2 million in federal funding for continued efforts to help low-performing schools.
 
     The U.S. Department of Education announced more than $38 million in school improvement grants for West Virginia and five other states Friday. Education agencies in each state will dole out the funding to districts that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds.
 

wvfunnyman / wikimedia Commons

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams has enacted a hiring freeze and stopped unnecessary spending for the remaining five months of the fiscal year.
 
     Williams said at a City Council work session Thursday that Huntington's revenues and expenditures are normal, but the state's second-largest city has less than $100,000 in contingency funds.
 

Congressman Nick Joe Rahall is looking into the water situation in Alpoca/Bud in Wyoming County.

The long-term fix, known as the Covel project, will bring a new transmission main to serve the Bud/Alpoca area. The Eastern Wyoming Public Service District (PSD), in partnership with the Wyoming County Commission, has taken steps to repair the existing water system.

The Covel project has nearly a $5.7 million price tag, all of which – except for $125,000 – is Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding.

Daniel Walker

After a brief delay, the House convened for its final floor session of the week.

House Bill 4010 creates the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act. It was approved and recommend for enactment in all 50 states by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws.

Delegate Mark Hunt explained exactly what the Act would entail before it was voted on.

Senator Ron Stollings decided against continuing his legislation relating to the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is opting for a resolution instead, calling on Congress to change the benefits nationwide.

Stollings’ bill directed the state Department of Health and Human Resources to apply for a waiver with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The waiver would prohibit the purchase of soda and junk foods with SNAP benefits, or food stamps.

Daniel Walker

With the primary election coming in May and the general election in November, the House Judiciary Committee took a look at current code that prohibits elected officials and candidates from soliciting public employees, discussing H.B. 4414, relating to the solicitation of public employees by an elected officer of the state.

Even more Kanawha County schools have canceled classes because of an odor resembling the chemical that spilled into a regional water system last month.
 
West Virginia Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro says Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring directed J.E. Robins Elementary School in Charleston to close Thursday morning as a precautionary measure.

Updated on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 4:30:

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring released the following statement:

Twitter

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is evaluating options to test tap water in people's homes after last month's chemical spill.
 
     After the Jan. 9 chemical spill, officials have based testing at the West Virginia American Water treatment plant and various other spots across the affected region.
 

On Wednesday the House passed bill 4284, also known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The bill’s purpose would be to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace.

The following would be considered an unlawful employment practice:

Two West Virginia schools closed early because of an odor resembling the chemical that spilled into a regional water system last month.
 
     Riverside High and Midland Trail Elementary in Kanawha County closed Wednesday morning because of the licorice smell.
 
     The chemical wasn't detected in previous testing.
 

Palosirkka / wikimedia Commons

Morgantown's City Council is asking the Legislature to legalize same-sex civil marriages in West Virginia.
 
     The Dominion Post reports that council members unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday asking lawmakers to approve marriage equality for gay couples. This would include health and pension benefits and tax treatment.
 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Tomblin Wednesday afternoon joined members of the state and federal team involved in efforts following the January 9 chemical spill into the Elk River and water crisis that followed. Tomblin, along with officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state agencies, provided an update on what has been accomplished, the current status of spill response, and the actions the team plans to take moving forward.

The CDC has published information regarding chemicals involved in the Elk River chemical spill, how they've determined thresholds for safe drinking water, and more.

Freedom Industries
AP

Officials from the federal agency that helped determine when people could use their water again will be visiting Charleston.
 
     Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday will give officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an update on last month's chemical spill. Environmental Protection Agency officials will join them.
 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin
Provided

An official says two state air quality employees have appeared in front of a federal grand jury about the West Virginia chemical spill.
 
     State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise confirmed Tuesday that they testified several weeks ago in Beckley.
 

The day after the House of Delegates’ public hearing on last month’s chemical leak and the safety of the water supply, lawmakers began the process of incorporating suggestions to strengthen Senate Bill 373.

While some speakers at the hearing felt that there were too many empty chairs at the hearing, Del. Don Perdue said the turnout from his fellow delegates was satisfactory.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources was the first to take action on Senate Bill 6 Tuesday, regulating the sale of drug products used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Senate Bill 6:

Flickr / davidwilson1949

For the first time this fiscal year, state tax collections in West Virginia have exceeded monthly projections.
 
     Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow tells media outlets that despite the surplus of $8.4 million in January, collections through the first seven months of the fiscal year are $73 million less than anticipated.
 

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