Government

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.
 

Watch video of the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing testimony on the West Virginia chemical spill held February 4.

 
 The Committee on Environment and Public Works' water and wildlife subcommittee convened Tuesday on the spill that left 300,000 people without clean water for days.
 

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

A central figure in the federal corruption investigation in Mingo County wants his trial moved out of the county.
 
     Lawyers for 65-year-old George White of Delbarton say their client can't get a fair trial in Mingo County.
 

Before sending Senate Bill 373 through its Health and Human Resources, Judiciary and Finance Committees, the House of Delegates allowed citizens directly affected by the chemical leak to voice their concerns and offer suggestions to the bill in a public hearing in the chamber

While the stories and testimonies were different, the overall message was a call to action for lawmakers.

Some of the highlights of the points speakers made were:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: I'm Brian Naylor in Washington.

Ashton Marra

The upper chamber passed four bills Monday. They include:

Senate Bill 267

The bill ensure that state courts have jurisdiction over prosecuting unauthorized or fraudulent uses of state purchasing cards when used out of state. Penalties include 1-5 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Two senior status judges will temporarily fill a judgeship in Cabell County until the governor appoints a permanent replacement.
 
     West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis on Monday appointed James O. Holliday and John S. Hirko to temporarily replace Cabell County Circuit Court Judge David Pancake.
 

Kanawha County Commission
Kanawha County Commission

Bulk Water Tankers – Bring Your Own Container Locations

  • Crossings Mall – Elkview
  • Walmart Parking Lot – Quincy
  • Old Big Sandy Parking Lot – Cross Lanes
  • Shawnee Park – Institute

Editor's Note: Officials with Kanawha County said Monday that winter weather has affected the ability to offer more bottled water at this time. We will update this post once again if announcements are made about bottled water distribution or if bulk water supply locations are changed.

Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Dept.

West Virginia State Police have released the names of two workers and a firefighter who were killed when two cellphone towers collapsed.
 
Lt. Michael Baylous on Sunday identified the workers as 32-year-old Kyle Kirkpatrick of Hulbert, Okla., and 27-year-old Terry Lee Richard Jr. of Bokoshe, Okla.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state Division of Homeland Security released audio Friday of Freedom Industries' employee Bob Reynolds notifying the state spill hotline that a chemical was leaking at their Charleston location. The call was received at 12:05 p.m. on January 9.

Reynolds told the operator, identified later in the call only as Laverne, the Department of Environmental Protection was already on site.

"I heard about it about 15 minutes ago," Reynolds told the operator when asked what time the leak occurred. The operator estimated the time to be about 11:40 a.m.

flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

As competition increases from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, West Virginia casinos are losing customers.
 
     And the lost revenue is poking a hole in the state's tax base and budget.
 

Ashton Marra

Senate President Jeff Kessler introduced his Future Fund legislation into the Senate Friday. The proposal this year, however, is slightly different from years past.

Senate Bill 461 creates the statutory framework for the fund:

-Provides 25 percent of any revenues collected from oil and gas severance taxes over and above $175 million be automatically placed in Future Fund, up from $70 million baseline proposed last year

Kanawha County Schools

Tests conducted more than two weeks after a chemical spill tainted the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians show the presence of the chemical remains in five schools.
 
     The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management on Friday released the results of water samples taken at 83 schools in five counties.
 

Daniel Walker

It took 12 days from its introduction for the Senate to pass Bill 373.

It has been several days since its introduction to the House and the bill has yet to be seen by its first committee.

Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two West Virginia agencies are joining a lawsuit against an Ohio drug company, alleging its negligent practices have helped fuel the state's pain pill abuse epidemic.
 
     The Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety recently signed on as plaintiffs in the attorney general's lawsuit against Cardinal Health.
 

WV Legislature

With the Success of the Feed to Achieve Act last year, Senate Majority Leader John Unger is now looking to take on childhood obesity with new legislation. He introduced the Move to Improve Act into the Senate Thursday.

“Move to Improve goes into our middle schools and our elementary schools and really tries to instill in our students the importance of good nutrition and physical activity,” Unger said.

Aaron Payne

Committee members heard from various offices that make up the department of transportation - the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Highways, the State Rail Authority, the Division of Public Transit, the Public Port Authority, the Aeronautics Commission and the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Like in many other budget hearings, officials from each office laid out how they will handle their finances to deal with the upcoming tight fiscal years.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House of Delegates is paving a long legislative road for new regulations on above-ground storage tanks.
 
     But Speaker Tim Miley says his chamber isn't stalling the chemical spill-inspired bill.
 
     Miley says giving the bill three committee stops doesn't mean it won't go anywhere. Often, assigning a bill many committees shows leadership isn't seriously considering it.
 
     Miley says Senate Bill 373 could take longer in the House. A public hearing will take place in the House chamber Monday.
 

State utility regulators have ordered West Virginia American Water to continue providing quarterly reports on the quality of its service.
 
     The Public Service Commission's order says the information will allow it to monitor whether the company's response to a Jan. 9 chemical spill has any lasting impact on its distribution infrastructure in the Kanawha Valley.
 

School Building Authority of West Virginia

West Virginia School Building Authority executive director Mark Manchin has been named schools superintendent in Harrison County.
 
 The Harrison County Board of Education approved a three-year contract for Manchin on Wednesday. He will begin his new job on July 1.
 

Submitted Photo / WVDOT

Several days this past month all 55 counties have had to close their schools because of weather and water problems, and in some cases that means they won’t be able to meet the goal of giving 180 days of classroom instruction.

West Virginia State School Superintendent Jim Phares was previously superintendent in Randolph County so dealing with winter weather to him is the norm. But for many counties this is an unusual school year.

Aaron Payne

The House currently has one member that cannot participate in voting or House activities due to military service. Delegate Joshua Nelson has been absent for the second session of the 81st Legislature while on active duty.

House Resolution 6 would allow participation for Nelson and future members not physically present while serving in the military in House proceedings and voting by electronic teleconferencing.

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