Government

A Kanawha County Family Court judge is facing a battery charge following an incident at a Charleston hospital.
 
 Charleston police arrested 61-year-old Mark Snyder on Monday night. He's accused of grabbing a nurse's arm and trying to drag her down a hallway at Charleston Area Medical General Hospital.
 
     A criminal complaint says the nurse told police that Snyder was upset about the care of a patient he was visiting. The complaint says Snyder refused several requests to leave and was escorted out of the hospital by a security guard.
 

Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia's tax revenue slide is continuing as October's collections fell about $8 million below estimates.
 
     Deputy revenue secretary Mark Muchow tells media outlets that collections of personal income, consumer sales and business and occupation taxes were all below estimates.
 
     Personal income and consumer sales taxes are the state's biggest sources of tax revenue.
 
     Natural gas production boosted severance tax collections above estimates. But Muchow says it wasn't enough to offset the declines.
 

Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry
Justice Allen Loughry / West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

A national poll conducted by a nonpartisan think tank and a justice advocacy group shows more and more Americans believe campaign spending on judicial elections is swaying decisions in the courtroom.

The groups are now calling for the spread of more public campaign financing and other reforms for state Supreme Court elections, much like a pilot program already in place in West Virginia.

Ashton Marra

The Mingo County Commission is expected to name a new county prosecutor and county commissioner this week.

Former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former Commissioner David Baisden resigned in October after they were charged in separate cases stemming from a corruption probe.
 
WSAZ-TV  reports that the commission interviewed candidates to replace Sparks and Baisden on Monday. Commissioners plan to name a new prosecutor and magistrate at their meeting on Wednesday.

Efforts to help state veterans continue

Nov 4, 2013

The author of a study published last year on state veterans is trying to do more to help them.

Joseph Scotti has started a new organization called WHOLE Veterans. It stands for Welcome Home: Overcoming, Living, Engaging.

Scotti says it takes a lot of different people within a community to encourage veterans to reach out for help when they need assistance. He says there simply aren't enough people at the moment to deal with absolutely every veteran who needs care.

West Virginia University’s College of Law hosted three visiting professors from the University of Guanajuato last week. “Mexico Week” at the law school featured lectures and panel discussions giving students an opportunity to better understand life south of the border.

Perhaps the longest standing relationship WVU has with a sister school abroad is with the University of Guanajuato. In continuing with that tradition, professors from the school in the small university town of Guanajuato came to share their world with students.

La Ley

Ashton Marra

This week, it was the Democratic Party’s turn to raise money, but also pay tribute to a man who has served the state for 50 years.

“Your overwhelming proof, Jay, that it’s not about the circumstances you come from, it’s about soul. And Jay Rockefeller, you’ve got soul.”

Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Charleston to honor Senator Jay Rockefeller at the annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner.

Department of Transportation

 

 

A bridge replacing a 70-year-old span linking Nitro and St. Albans is open for traffic.

The old bridge was demolished earlier this year to make way for the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge. It cost nearly $24 million to construct.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin were among the dignitaries on hand Friday to mark the opening of the span to traffic. It opened to foot traffic Thursday night.

Instead of a ribbon cutting, a construction worker used a blowtorch to cut through a chain.

Hundreds looked on as the new span made its debut.

In downtown Parkersburg sits the federal Treasury Department's headquarters of the Bureau of the Public Debt. Employing more than 1,800 at that location, the agency is responsible for managing, selling and accounting for the more than $17 trillion that U.S. taxpayers owe to themselves, to Social Security, and to foreign investors. The federal government is also Parkersburg's largest employer.

Education Summit kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 5

Nov 1, 2013

Governor Tomblin’s education reform bill passed by the legislature earlier this year requires all children to read proficiently by the third grade.  A strategy to make sure that happens will be discussed at an education summit Tuesday, November 5. 

From grades kindergarten to third grade, children learn to read.  By fourth grade, they must read to learn.

An automatic reduction to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, will begin taking effect today, cutting benefits for more than 47 million people across the country. 

West Virginians rely heavily on this assistance program, with about 20 percent of the population enrolled.

A Kanawha County man who is already struggling to provide for his family said this national cut means he will have to make even harder choices in the near future. 

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

An industry trade group has launched a campaign in West Virginia opposing legislation that would require prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine.
 
     Pseudoephedrine is also used illegally to make methamphetamine.
 
     The Consumer Healthcare Products Association began running ads this week on Charleston-area news websites. The group also has set up a website called Stop Meth, Not Meds, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
 

Provided

A judge called the inner workings of the Gene Spadaro Juvenile Center “concerning” after receiving a report from a court monitor for the Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission.

The Commission was established in June of 2011 to examine the operations and programs of the Division of Juvenile Services facilities across the state. Cindy Largent-Hill is a member of the commission and visited the Spadaro Juvenile Center in Fayette County Monday.

A federal judge issued a memorandum Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to finalize federal coal ash regulations.

United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton issued a ruling giving the Environmental Protection Agency 60 days to name how long it will take to review and revise coal ash regulations. 

Provided

Judge Omar Aboulhosn heard what may be the last evidence in the case filed by Mountain State Justice against the Division of Juvenile Services.

Mountain State asked three juvenile residents to testify in an evidentiary hearing Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

B.M., identified only by his initials for the court, is a juvenile resident of the Sam Perdue Juvenile Center in Princeton. He is one of the 25 residents relocated after Aboulhosn order the closure of the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center in Salem over the summer.

West Virginia's two U.S. senators say they'll be watching closely to see how Ohio-based Murray Energy treats safety and the workforce of the five CONSOL Energy mines it's buying.
 
     Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller have requested a meeting with Murray Energy to discuss the transition.
 
     The companies announced the deal Monday for the sale of the Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge, McElroy, Robinson Run and Shoemaker mines.
 
     Pennsylvania-based CONSOL said it wants to shift resources to natural gas development.
 

In 1960, then-Senator and Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy visited McDowell County, West Virginia and forged a bond with those living in the state's southern coalfields. It was a victory in West Virginia's Democratic primary that helped confirm his broad appeal to the rest of America. After winning the presidential election, Kennedy exposed the rest of the country to the perils of poverty that faced the region. In this article, USA Today reports on the way Kennedy's assassination has resonated with those living in southern West Virginia, the way things were then, and how they are now.

Ashton Marra

A hearing in Kanawha County Circuit Court will determine whether or not juvenile residents of state facilities will see a difference in the way grievances are handled and an increase in educational opportunities.

Mercer County Judge Omar Aboulhosn will be presented a proposed agreement between the Division of Juvenile Services and Mountain State Justice, a Charleston based public interest law firm whose lawsuit against the division resulted in the closure of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth and later the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center.

Joe Long / AP

Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, along with Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall, today announced more than $697,000 in federal funding for pipeline safety efforts in West Virginia.  
 

Ashton Marra

Former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee made a stop in West Virginia to help energize the state Republican Party during a fundraiser Friday night.

An evening that started with state GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas poking fun at an array of federal indictments coming from Mingo County, all against Democratic leaders, transitioned to focus on what Huckabee called the true message of the Republican party—valuing every life based on inherent worth given by God and not status.

The Washington Post breaks down West Virginia's transition from being a state that has traditionally favored Democrats to becoming more and more likely to vote Republican.

Manchin leads effort to reschedule hydrocodone

Oct 25, 2013

Senator Joe Manchin held a conference call this morning to discuss the announcement that the Food and Drug Administration is recommending hydrocodone be reclassified.

  The FDA is recommending to the Department of Health and Human Services that hydrocodone drugs like Vicodin or Lortab be reclassified from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance.

Under this category, it’s acknowledged that the drug has a high potential for abuse, can cause severe psychological or physical dependence, and should be used with severe restrictions.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

A Boone County judge has ordered four pharmaceutical drug distributors to reveal their shipments to West Virginia pharmacies over the past five years.
 
Circuit Judge William Thompson acted Thursday in a lawsuit filed last year by former state Attorney General Darrell McGraw. The suit accused the companies of helping to contribute to the state's pain pill abuse epidemic.
 

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin
Courtesy Photo

Senator Joe Manchin is proposing a delay in a key component to the federal Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate. Manchin defended his legislation saying it allows the administration more time to fix glitches in the enrollment system, but a left-leaning policy group in Charleston maintains a delay will have significant negative impacts on West Virginians.

The individual mandate requires all Americans sign up for health insurance through the federal health care exchange by April 1, or face a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of their annual income, whichever is greater.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Public Service Commission got an earful from Eastern Panhandle electric customers unhappy with Potomac Edison’s billing practices during a public hearing Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Customers are upset because last winter and spring they received estimated monthly bills that were much higher than normal. In some cases the electric company did estimated readings several months in a row. Delegate Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson) was among those who spoke during the hearing.

Ashton Marra

Only days into the 2013 Legislative session, it became obvious to those eyeing the halls of the state Capitol it would be the year of Education Reform. With the passage of the governor’s bill, immediate steps were taken to improve student achievement, but some steps couldn’t be implemented so quickly. Legislators are still learning how they can help improve early childhood education in West Virginia.

The Horizontal Well Control Act of 2011 required studies be conducted to gain a more profound understanding of all that's entailed in the natural gas drilling that's sweeping northern West Virginia. Those reports are coming due, and legislators are hearing from scientists who have been looking into the matter.

Two major reports are being discussed in Charleston this week. One looks at air and noise pollution, while another considers water use related to Horizontal Well drilling.

1. Air and Noise

A company involved in the problematic federal health care exchange website has a contract to design a system to manage West Virginia state government accounts.
 
     CGI Group subsidiary CGI Federal is the developer of the complex U.S. government website that's been hit by technical problems, resulting in long waits for Americans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
 

West Virginia's Head Start preschool program is no longer available in every county due to federal budget cuts, state officials said Tuesday.

The federally funded program helps prepare low-income children for elementary school and also provides them with meals and health care. The programs are a legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1960s war on poverty.

Ashton Marra

The governor, the legislature, even a special commission on highways are all looking for ways to fund state roads. A select committee on Infrastructure is trying to find ways to save money and increase efficiencies by combining the Division of Highways and the governing authority of the state’s Turnpike, but simply combining the two would create serious legal implications for the state.

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