Government

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.

Foo Conner / Flickr

Officials from the Bureau for Public Health and West Virginia American Water released separate statements regarding Dr. Scott Simonton's testimony Wednesday to Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, calling his remarks on the discovery of formaldehyde in the water of a Charleston restaurant "unfounded", "misleading", and "irresponsible."

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

The House’s bill to aide small businesses during states of emergency saw significant changes in the Senate Wednesday, giving lawmakers more control of the aide program.

The original West Virginia Small Business Emergency Act included a laundry list of potential aide written into emergency rule by the director of the Department of Homeland Security and approved by the governor

The trial of a Virginia man charged with killing the mayor of War is underway in McDowell County Circuit Court.

The defendant is 28-year-old Earl Click of Grundy, Va.

Click is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 72-year-old War Mayor Thomas Hatcher.

 
City workers found Hatcher's body in his home on July 17, 2012.

 
Click's sister and co-defendant, 32-year-old Rebecca Hatcher, was acquitted of a murder charge in November. Judge Rudolph J. Murensky II declared a mistrial on a conspiracy charge. A retrial is scheduled next month.

Drug Enforcement Agency

A West Virginia resident and a Florida man have admitted their roles in a methamphetamine trafficking case.
 
     Forty-nine-year-old Howard Leon Lykins II of Charleston pleaded guilty in federal court in Charleston on Tuesday to maintaining a residence for drug purposes. Forty-four-year-old Richard Milton Hudson Riggall of Zephyrhills, Fla., entered a guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
 

Ashton Marra

A former Mingo County commissioner has been sentenced to more than a year in prison on a federal extortion charge.
 
     David Baisden received a 20-month sentence Wednesday in federal court in Charleston.
 
     He pleaded guilty in October to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount in 2009, then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.
 

Aaron Payne

Three bills were voted on and passed by the House of Delegates Tuesday.

H.B. 2387

The bill relates to reasonable accommodations under the West Virginia Fair Housing Act for persons with disabilities who need assistive animals. The bill would not only include seeing-eye dogs, but also support animals that one might not think of such as therapy dogs for returning veterans with PTSD.

Ashton Marra

Weeks of questioning, debates and discussions culminated in the Senate Tuesday with a vote on the most watched bill of the session. Senate Bill 373 creates new regulations for above ground storage tanks and more stringent protections of the state’s water.

The bill sets forth provisions for storage site owners and operators, the Department of Environmental Protection and public water distribution systems.

Site Owners:

Tuesday morning U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin teamed up with Sen. Barbara Boxer of California (Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee) to introduce the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, which gathers into one place the tools to provide oversight of chemical facilities.
 

School Building Authority of West Virginia

West Virginia School Building Authority executive director Mark Manchin says he plans to step down to become Harrison County's school superintendent.
 
     The county Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to vote on a proposed contract. School board president David Sturm tells media outlets that he expects the board to approve the contract.
 
     Manchin says he will accept the job if it's offered.
 

Office of the Governor

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Monday urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to modify the current federal Emergency Declaration to provide for Direct Funding Assistance to state and local government programs and eligible non-profit agencies in the nine counties affected by the Elk River chemical spill on January 9.
 
 "At the time of the Presidential Emergency Declaration, no one knew how long this assistance would be needed," Gov. Tomblin said in a letter to the agency.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Freedom Industries has once again revised their estimate of the amount of materials involved in the January 9 chemical spill into the Elk River.

In a news release issued Monday afternoon, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom now estimates the MCHM/PPH blend involved in the spill at 10,000 gallons. That number is up from earlier estimates of 7,500 gallons, which was also increased from the earliest estimates of 2,000-5,000 gallons when the spill was first discovered.

Aaron Payne

H.B. 4006 adds those who access with intent to view as those who can be convicted of possession of child pornography. The bill would also add enhanced penalties for such offenses with aggravating circumstances. If the material contains more than 500 images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the offense is a felony punishable by a sentence of 18 months to five years and a fine of 10,000 dollars.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislature

Senators offered amendments Monday to Senate Bill 373, relating to water resources protection.

Senate Judiciary Chair Corey Palumbo offered new exclusions as well as substantive amendments:

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