Local News

'An 18 carat dog's mess' - Justice presents budget to lawmakers

By SEÁN O'DONOGHUE

Managing Editor

CHARLESTON - Governor Jim Justice addressed lawmakers in the annual State of the State address, last week, with the focus of his remarks being the budget for the year set to begin on July 1, 2017. Lawmakers were gaveled into session, earlier the same day, Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The 60-day session will see legislators tackle a range of issues; however, the state's financial troubles are expected to dominate proceedings at the Capitol.

Justice literally took to the floor of the House of Delegates for his address. Traditionally, the governor of the day has addressed the joint sitting of lawmakers from a lectern in front of the House speaker's chair.…

Budget issues, educationfocus of WV legislative preview

By LEXI BROWNING

For the West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON — Budget issues led the discussion Tuesday, February 7, 2017, when members of AARP’s Capitol Advocacy Team met with members of the media to discuss the upcoming legislative session’s potential economic impact on West Virginia and residents across the state.

Panelists Ashton Marra, statehouse reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Jeff Jenkins, chief capitol correspondent for MetroNews, and Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association, outlined their expectations for the session. AARP Associate State Director Tom Hunter moderated the discussion, which was part of a day of meetings with…

Substance Abuse Committee now permanent in Charleson

By LEXI BROWNING

For The West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON - Initiatives to combat substance abuse in schools and implementation of rehabilitative alternatives for first-time offenders are among items on the 2017 legislative calendar for the West Virginia House of Delegate’s Select Committee for Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse.

Committee members met Wednesday to establish their agenda and declare the committee permanent.

Speaking to the committee, Michael Goff, administrator of the West Virginia Board of Pharmacists’ Controlled Substance Monitoring Program, said data collection efforts made on behalf of the CMSP program have led to declining prescription overdoses…

Cost cutting continues

By SEÁN O'DONOGHUE

Managing Editor

CHARLESTON - Governor Jim Justice will present his proposed budget to state lawmakers, a few weeks from now. But already, various state agencies are taking steps to reel in spending. As reported recently in The Lincoln News Sentinel, certain departments followed the governor's lead by eliminating a number of vehicles. That trend continued last week.

West Virginia Secretary of Transportation Tom Smith announced that the West Virginia Division of Highways will be reducing its transportation fleet by 122 vehicles this year.

“Governor Justice asked us to work diligently to identify where we can operate more efficiently,” stated Secretary Smith.  “Toward that…

Ozone Bill reintroduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were joined, recently, by Representatives Pete Olson (R-Texas), Bill Flores (R-Texas) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio) in reintroducing the Ozone Standards Implementation Act in the 115th Congress. This legislation, which was introduced in both the House and Senate, would update how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addresses ozone requirements in the Clean Air Act.

 Currently, the EPA must review national ambient air quality standards every five years. This has resulted in new ozone standards being issued before previous standards are implemented, leaving states faced with the…

Manchin introduces broadband bill

WASHTINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), last week, introduced a bill that would create a committee to develop policies and recommendations that promote deployment of broadband access in rural areas across West Virginia.

“Delivering affordable, reliable broadband access is both a critical and necessary step towards closing the broadband gap in rural and remote areas of the nation, like much of West Virginia,” Senator Manchin said. “The job of serving the Mountain State is far from done. All too often, broadband policies have failed states like West Virginia because voices from rural America have not been at the table. The Rural Telecommunications and Broadband Service Act…

Driving a new direction as state cars get nixed

By SEÁN O'DONOGHUE

Managing Editor

CHARLESTON - Governor Jim Justice took office last week and swiftly got to work setting an example for government agencies. The Mountain State's new chief executive, as one of his first acts, dispensed with a number of state vehicles. In a statement from his office, the governor announced he is cutting five taxpayer-funded vehicles from his office. The cars were previously used by representatives of the Governor's Office. In the face of a major state budget crisis, Governor Justice's office is setting an example for every department in state government, his office said. Justice has made it clear that every dollar of state spending must be examined.

"We…

$563,331 secured for LPCC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) announced recently that he has helped secure a $563,331 grant for the Lincoln County Primary Care Center in Hamlin from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

 The grant helps fund the operations of the Lincoln County Primary Care Center, which provides much-needed health services for area residents.

 “Community health centers fill a critical gap in health care in southern West Virginia. These centers ensure low-income residents have consistent access to health care and develop relationships with their doctors to improve their health. This grant will help the Lincoln County Primary Care Center offer much-needed care…

Senators reintroduce miners act

WASHINTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Bob Casey (D-PA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) have introduced the Miners Protection Act. This legislation would ensure that the federal government and coal operators honor their obligation of life-time pensions and health benefits to retired miners and their families who are facing uncertainty as a result of the financial crisis and corporate bankruptcies. In December, the Senate passed a continuing resolution that included a four-month proposal to fund retired miners healthcare for the…

‘It’s terrible’ - Wilkerson on state-mandated audit by state costing $29,920

By SEÁN O’DONOGHUE

Managing Editor

HAMLIN - Restating concerns he has expressed in previous years, a Lincoln County Board of Education member recently described as “terrible” the requirement from the state that school systems pay for costly financial audits. Larry Wilkerson’s comments came at the first board meeting of the new year, held at the central office in Hamlin on Tuesday, January 3, 2017.

The board unanimously approved the agreement with the state auditor, whereby personnel from the same auditor’s office will conduct the required annual audit of the school system’s financial statements, in this instance for the fiscal year that ended last June 30. The audit, however, comes with a…