West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” April 27, 2018





House’s chief of staff files to run for vacant Kanawha circuit judge seat
The chief of staff for the state House of Delegates plans to run for a vacant seat in Kanawha Circuit Court.


Dan Greear filed his pre-candidacy papers today.


Legislative departures mean WV voters will see new names on ballots
No matter the outcome of this election cycle, the state Legislature will have a very different look next year.


The House of Delegates is particularly affected by members opting out of running again.


PolitiFact: Blankenship statement on McConnell and China false
In the closing days of West Virginia’s Senate primary, relations between Republicans Don Blankenship and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have turned sour.


Blankenship is running for Senate despite spending a year in jail for conspiring to violate mine safety regulations. A jury found that, under his leadership as CEO of Massey Energy, the company systematically refused to take steps that would have prevented a deadly combination of methane gas and coal dust that left 29 West Virginia miners dead in 2010.

PolitiFact: Morrisey’s claim on Jenkins’ former platform half true
The accusations flew fast and furious in a Fox News-sponsored debate between three Republican Senate contenders in West Virginia.


We’re checking several claims from the May 1 debate, which featured former coal CEO Don Blankenship, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Each is running for the nomination to face Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in the general election.

PolitiFact: Jenkins’ statement fending off Dem links rated as half true
It’s not every day that PolitiFact fact-checks are wielded as rhetorical weapons in U.S. Senate debates, but that’s exactly what happened in a May 1 debate that pitted three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in West Virginia.


During the hotly contested campaign, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has regularly attacked one of his rivals, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, for a history of deviating from conservative orthodoxy.



The Governor


Justice Announces Pfizer Addiction Grant
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and the Pfizer Foundation Monday announced a grant award of $500,000 to increase rehabilitation services for mothers with substance use disorders and their prenatally exposed infants.


“This funding will help the most vulnerable of our citizens impacted by the horrible drug epidemic we are facing as a state,” said Gov. Justice. “We appreciate the partnership of the Pfizer Foundation with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) as we work to improve the health and well-being those children and families impacted by substance use.”


Justice takes additional action to improve safety in work zones after fatal wrecks
“Our hearts go out to the families involved in these tragic accidents along the interstate,” Justice said. “I have instructed Secretary Smith and Colonel Cahill to immediately look at what steps they can take to make sure we are doing everything we possibly can to make our interstates and work zones safe for all motorists as well as those working on the job sites.”





University Center Supplies Tools, Support Needed to Achieve Innovations
Giving creative ideas the wings to fly is the mission of the Tom Love Innovation Hub at the University of Oklahoma. No matter if the idea is a seed or a full-blown vision.


Maybe you have all the knowledge required, but “just need a cool tool” to complete your project, said Thomas Wavering, executive director on the Innovation Hub.


How Higher Ed Became a Partisan Wedge Issue
The Western Wisconsin College of Hair Design and Mortuary Science offers a host of majors to choose from, including diesel mechanics and private investigation. It’s also announced plans to open a new School of Taxidermy in the near future. The university’s official motto is “Meeting Wisconsin’s Workforce Needs Since 2007!”


Clemson President Clements pens chapter in higher education leadership book
CLEMSON — Clemson University President James P. Clements is among three dozen national higher education leaders to share their insights and experiences in a new book “Leading Colleges and Universities,” published this month by Johns Hopkins University Press.


College Students and College Advisors – Before School gets out this semester, learn about the internship opportunities with the @wvlegislature for Spring Semesters, never too early to consider – wvlegislature.gov/Educational/in… #WVLegis @WVHEPC



Health Care


The Immigrant Doctor Who’s Solving West Virginia’s Opioids Crisis
Last fall, after watching the death toll from opioids climb unchecked for years, Dr. Rahul Gupta, the man in charge of combating one of the worst health crises in America, decided to do something no one had ever tried. He ordered his staff to do an in-depth analysis of every person in his state who had died of a drug overdose over the preceding year—all 887 of them.


Pfizer Foundation grant to assist drug-ravaged moms, babies
The Pfizer Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant in West Virginia for rehabilitation services for drug-addicted mothers and their newborns who are born dependent on drugs.


More people are blaming the opioid crisis on drug companies
Pharmaceutical companies are shouldering a greater share of the blame for the opioid crisis, according to a new Survey Monkey/Axios poll, although individual users are blamed most often.


Several Red States Inch Closer to Expanding Medicaid
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have expanded their Medicaid programs for residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2012 case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, that the federal government could not force them to do so. Additional background on this issue is available here and here.





Mike Tyson company to partner with WV cannabis farm
A company owned by former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson plans to partner with a West Virginia greenhouse to grow and extract cannabis for use in its products.


Tyson Holistic is teaming up with Flemington-based Almost Heaven Agriculture and plans to put a hemp extraction facility at its existing greenhouse, officials said Monday.





Kentucky House Leader Calls For Investigation Into State Broadband Project
The leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives is calling for an investigation into the deal that created the Kentucky Wired high-speed internet project, a public-private partnership that has cost the state tens of millions of dollars in delays in recent years.



Business and Industry


Thrasher: Tariffs Shouldn’t Derail $83.7 Billion Chinese Investment in West Virginia
West Virginia Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher said President Donald Trump’s 25 percent tariff on steel should not derail China Energy’s plan to build $83.7 billion worth of ethane crackers, power plants and related shale natural gas infrastructure.





Breaking down the U.S. Senate race in WV
Hoppy’s Commentary | May 03, 2018

I am frequently asked who I think will win the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia. Short answer—I don’t know, and I would be crazy to predict. However, I am willing to give you possible scenarios for the three leading candidates, in order of the latest Fox News Poll.



In Other News


‘West Virginia Grown’ logo revealed
“We knew the program needed a new look to go along with new benefits. We wanted to tap into the history of the program, as well as our Appalachian roots,” Kent Leonhardt said. “We think this new looks captures both of those perfectly.”


Penn National secures additional approvals for pending Pinnacle Entertainment acquisition
Timothy J. Wilmott, CEO for Penn National Gaming, said, “We are grateful to the Mississippi Gaming Commission and the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission for their prompt review and approval of our proposed transaction. Ameristar Vicksburg and The Meadows will be great additions to our Mississippi and Pennsylvania operations, respectively, and we look forward to welcoming their employees and patrons to the Penn National family. As a Company, we are proud that our employees and operations in these states contributed to the record first quarter results announced yesterday. We look forward to securing additional regulatory approvals in the near term and based on our progress to date, we remain confident of closing the transaction in the second half of this year.”