Mitch Carmichael

Gage Skidmore

Two of the Republican Party's top leaders have hesitated to support a bill that would preserve the pensions and health care benefits for thousands of retired union coal miners.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are both popular in Appalachian coal communities. But McConnell in the past has blocked a bill that would rescue the pensions and health benefits of more than 13,000 retired coal miners in Kentucky. Trump has been silent on the bill, which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has endorsed.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A bill to remove the permitting and safety training requirements to carry a concealed weapon in West Virginia is just one vote away from becoming law.  

Delegates voted 64 to 33 to override Governor Tomblin's veto of House Bill 4145 Friday morning.

Martin Valent / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Berkeley County Democrat Sen. John Unger has dropped his lawsuit against Senate President Bill Cole after "reaching an agreement" with Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael Thursday.

Unger filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court after Senate leadership announced they would hold floor sessions, including votes on bills, both Saturday and Sunday this week.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

State Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael says he will contend for the Senate presidency in 2017.

The Jackson County Republican told The Associated Press about his plans Tuesday.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Interim meetings at the state capitol are usually laid back. Lawmakers attend their meetings and sometimes meet with a spare group of lobbyists and constituents.

Sunday, however, the House Government Organization Committee Room was overflowing. Men and women in union t-shirts filled the audience seats, the hallway and even the stairwells outside. What drew the crowd? A proposed piece of legislation that would make West Virginia a Right to Work state.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

In some counties in the state, deaths from heroin overdoses have tripled in the past three years, drawing the attention of both lawmakers and law enforcement looking for ways to combat the problem.

At the statehouse, lawmakers approved the Opioid Antagonist Act during the 2015 Legislative session. The bill expands access to the overdose reversing drug Naloxone, allowing police officers to carry it and also family members and friends of addicts to seek a prescription for the medication.

Naloxone, if followed by more intense medical treatment, can save a person’s life giving them a second chance, according to Joseph Garcia, Gov. Tomblin’s legislative affairs director. Tomblin backed the bill.

But members of both the House and Senate leadership say the new law alone will not decrease the number of heroin overdose fatalities. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael said that ‘more’ should include a focus on rehabilitative services and a program to drug test those on public assistance.

Marijuana
Flickr / eggrole

The second-ranking Republican state senator is pushing to make medical marijuana legal in West Virginia.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael filed a bill Monday to allow marijuana use for patients with debilitating health conditions.

The Jackson County Republican said he previously had opposed medical marijuana, but has since been convinced of its legitimate value as a therapeutic medicine.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

State Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael says there's a tentative deal to scale back the state's prevailing wage.

The Jackson County Republican said Wednesday the agreement would avoid repealing the wage for public construction projects. Republicans have proposed the repeal.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Senate voted on Senate Bill 8 Wednesday, authorizing a performance audit of the state Division of Highways. The bill, which was welcomed by the Department of Transportation, met some opposition on the chamber floor. 

DOT Secretary Paul Mattox told members of both House and Senate committees last week he was all for the bill which authorizes an outside organization to come in and audit the ten DOH districts, looking for areas of inefficiency, better practices, and better allocation of funds, among other criteria. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  West Virginia lawmakers are again promoting a bill to prohibit employers and landlords from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation.

At a Fairness West Virginia news conference Monday, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler and other Democratic officials discussed the legislation that Kessler has supported for years.

Appalachian Electric Power executive Charles Patton also spoke in support of it.

West Virginia law prohibits discrimination in employment and housing based a variety of factors, from race and religion to blindness or disability.

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