West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” November 27, 2017



Economic Development


Coal’s future troubled despite EPA rule that’s focus of Charleston hearing
While the Trump administration’s plans to repeal greenhouse gas emissions limits for power plants will get a mostly warm welcome this week in Charleston, experts say the move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency remains unlikely to fuel a major resurgence in West Virginia’s troubled coal industry.


Live blog: Day 2 of hearings on Clean Power Plan in WV
The first day was jam-packed with political figures, coal industry representatives, environmental groups and citizens, all weighing in on the possible repeal of the plan that was meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Over the course of two days, about 200 people were expected to provide comments in three different hearing rooms.


Today seems to be shaping up to be more low-key. No press conferences are scheduled, and the focus appears to be more on average citizens.



Justice urges Congress to pass tax bill
“By simplifying and streamlining the tax filing process it lifts a huge burden off of the middle class. Higher standard deductions and lower rates for businesses will also encourage economic growth and the creation of jobs,” the governor said. “I urge our Congressional representatives to vote for this tax reform package so President Trump can sign it into law.”




Budget, Taxes & Local Government


Lawmakers visit Mount Olive to hear about long hours, low pay for workers
“At the same time, we’re starting to see the same type of impact with the overworked staff, underpaid staff at a place that’s keeping the baddest of the bad out of society.”


WV Supreme Court: Champagne taste on a beer budget
West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) is the latest legislative leader to express outrage over excessive spending by the West Virginia Supreme Court on office renovations and furnishings.


The Court has spent $3.7 million in office repairs, redecorating and refurbishing over the last several years, and some of the spending is more in keeping with the tastes of a millionaire than of a poor state that struggles to balance a tight budget.



Election Campaigns


Reports indicate Blankenship will seek US Senate seat
Six months after his release from federal prison, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is reported to be running for U.S. Senate.


Word of a potential Blankenship candidacy has been circulating widely, but was reported as a done deal on Wednesday by WCHS-TV, which said Blankenship had filed federal elections paperwork the previous day, on Tuesday.



The Legislature


Despite ethics violation, WV Senate committee adds Capehart as counsel
The West Virginia Senate Finance Committee hired a former state official who paid out $10,000 as the result of a 2015 ethics investigation as its legal counsel


Robin Capehart, the former Secretary of Tax and Revenue under Gov. Cecil Underwood and former West Liberty University president, will join the staff, according to a news release.



Opioid Pandemic & Pharmaceuticals


WVU chief economist: Opioid crisis has cost West Virginia nearly $1 billion
“The factors that come into play are really divided into two categories,” Deskins explained. “In the first category, there are healthcare costs, substance abuse treatment costs and criminal justice costs, such as police protection, legal and correctional facilities costs. West Virginia is tying up so many of its resources in these areas. It is a steep investment of time, skills, knowledge and resources that could be spent on tackling other problems.”



WV panel to develop plan to combat opioid epidemic
“We are at a precipice and need to act with a sense of urgency,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, West Virginia’s public health commissioner. “These statistics are alarming, and every day we wait to take action is another day we are losing people to addiction and overdose.”



News from other states


Madison, Wis., Internet Pilot is Falling Short Despite Investment
(TNS) — After two years and spending more than $500,000, Madison is far behind and well short of goals for a pilot program to deliver low-cost Internet service to four low-income neighborhoods.


The city’s private contractor, ResTech Services of Madison, had delays in extending fiber cable to the neighborhoods, and once there, found unexpected barriers in getting permission from property owners to connect to buildings and so far has signed up few customers.


Amazon Delays Decision About Headquarters Location
The Charlotte Regional Partnership said Tuesday that it now doesn’t expect to hear until early next year whether it made the shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters.



Uber Hit With First State Lawsuit for Keeping Data Breach Secret
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Uber, after the ride-hailing company waited more than a year to reveal that it had been hacked, resulting in the breach of personal data for customers and drivers.


Minnesota Adds Medical Marijuana Conditions, But Can The Program Survive?
On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health announced the addition of autism and obstructive sleep apnea to the state’s medical marijuana program. Starting July 1, 2018, patients who suffer from these conditions will be eligible to apply for the program.