Government

C. W. Sigman

  West Virginia's governor has ordered the company at the center of a chemical spill that tainted the water supply for the state capital to begin the process of removing all above-ground storage tanks from the Charleston operation.

A statement released Saturday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office says Freedom Industries must start the dismantling process by March 15.

The Jan. 9 spill at Freedom Industries contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians.

The order to dismantle and properly dispose of the tanks also includes associated piping and machinery. The facility currently has 17 tanks.

Aaron Payne

Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia DEP Randy Huffman presented the proposed budget to the committee, relating how the organization would deal with the governor’s 7.5 percent cut.

Huffman assured there would be no loss in personnel. However, paying the personnel a fair and competitive wage was a challenge.

Delegate Ron Walters asked how proposed water protection legislation would affect the DEP financially.

“We’re doing an inventory, right now,” Huffman said.

“We’re going to try in the next few days to get an estimate.”

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.

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.”

Jessica Y. Lilly

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant filed her candidacy papers for U.S. Senate today.

Tennant filed to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

In a statement her campaign chairman, retired Major Gen. Allen Tackett said "Natalie always puts people above politics, and she knows West Virginia because she is West Virginia.”
 

According to the release Tennant grew up the youngest of seven children on her family farm. She worked her way through college at West Virginia University, where she was the Mountaineer mascot.

Ashton Marra

National Guard teams from West Virginia and neighboring states are carrying out a massive water testing campaign following the chemical spill that polluted the water supply for 300,000 people.
 
     Nearly 40 civil support team members from the Virginia and West Virginia National Guard were taking samples this week to test for contaminants in water supplied by West Virginia American Water.
 

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.

Daniel Walker

Felicity was a two-year-old-girl from Grant County who wandered away alone from a birthday party and was viciously attacked by two dogs. It took repeated surgeries for her to recover from her injuries. Because there was no criminal negligence on the part of the dogs’ owners, no legal action could be taken by her parents in a criminal or private case under current law according to the W. Va. Supreme Court of Appeals.

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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wikimedia

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is officially in the race for the U.S. Senate.

Capito filed her candidacy papers this morning. The seven-term Republican is seeking to fill the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
 
Another Republican, Larry Eugene Butcher of Washington in Wood County, also filed today to run for the U.S. Senate.

Williamstown Democrat David Walmsley and Parkersburg Republican Matthew Dodrill filed to run for the U.S. Senate last week.

Federal officials have rejected West Virginia's proposal to spend about $2.5 million in funds leftover from a broadband stimulus grant.
 
     State chief technology officer Gale Given tells the Charleston Gazette that the state likely will have to return the unspent funds to the federal government.
 

Office of the Governor

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he was unaware he received campaign checks from top executives at the company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill.
 
     The Democrat said he found about donations from two Freedom Industries executives from news articles Wednesday morning.
 

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the legislature continues to work on how to deal with the effects of the chemical spill, the House of Delegates looked at proposed legislation dealing with future disasters in terms of preparedness and flood insurance.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security discussed House Bill 4147. The bill deals with what can be done in a State of Preparedness.

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.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Politico

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller has written to West Virginia American Water for a second time since the chemical leak at Freedom Industries January 9.

In a letter sent this morning he asked West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre to respond by Friday, Jan. 24.

Rockefeller states he’s deeply concerned that after the “do not use” ban was lifted for people living in Buffalo, Fraziers Bottom and Pliny, further tests revealed levels of Crude MCHM higher than 1ppm.

Aaron Payne

House Bill 4135 would establish the first Thursday in May as the West Virginia Day of Prayer.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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:

www.potomaccenter.com

State police are investigating abuse allegations at a nonprofit Romney center that serves children with developmental disabilities.
 
     The state removed 24 children from the Potomac Center last week. The move came after upper management reported the allegations to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
 

House Bill 4014 will increase the criminal penalties for littering in West Virginia.

Part of the bill divides the level of offense by the quantity of the waste into the categories of “not exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet,” “greater than 100 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in, but less than 500 pounds in weight or 216 cubic feet” and “greater than 500 pounds in weight or 216 cubic feet.”

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 

 

The company blamed for a chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without safe drinking water has filed for bankruptcy.

Freedom Industries Inc. filed for bankruptcy Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.

Company president Gary Southern signed the paperwork.

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.

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.

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.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The West Virginia Ethics Commission is redoing its December meeting because of a mistake that resulted in an open meetings violation.
 
     The commission has scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 21 to revisit all the items on December's agenda.
 

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.

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.

Paul Mattox
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.

Chemical Leak Impedes W. Va. Legislature

Jan 13, 2014
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.

West Virginia Legislature

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will be the first guest on this season of The Legislature Today. He will discuss the recent chemical leak.

The episode will be taped live today, and will air this evening at 6:30 on West Virginia PBS. The show airs Weekdays while the the legislature is in session.

You can also hear the show at 6:30 on West Virginia Public Radio, or listen live on the internet.

Ashton Marra

John Kaiser of Dunbar has been without water since Thursday. No dishes, no laundry, no shower just like 300,000 other West Virginians.

But Sunday, you could say, was a better day for Kaiser. Sunday one of his three Kanawha County restaurants—a Steak Escape connected to a gas station on Corridor G—was allowed to reopen.

“You had to submit a plan to the health department of how you would meet their standards,” he said. “We did that and they came out (Saturday) night, did a walk through, did an inspection and they approved us.”

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