West Virginia State Government “Week in the Know” December 11, 2017 Your Weekly News Update HE’S BACK!! Nick Casey to serve on the Board of Review CHARLESTON – Four months after Gov. Jim Justice fired Nick Casey as his chief of staff, he appointed Casey to the Workers Compensation Board of Review. The governor’s office confirmed Casey was appointed to the position Dec. 4 and will begin his work as a member of the Board of Review Jan. 2. However, the office could not confirm anything else about the appointment such as what Casey would be doing. The Legislature Governor anticipates more “harmonious” legislative session “It’s going to be a more harmonious situation,” Justice said. “We had to have what we went through last year to get where we needed to be. It was time for someone to rattle the cage. Like it or not like it, it was time. It wasn’t any fun for me or others.” WV House leaders back bill amending Ethics Act to include volunteers Leaders from both parties in the West Virginia House of Delegates are backing legislation to counter Gov. Jim Justice’s decision to bring on a sitting board member of EQT Corp., a publicly traded natural gas driller, onto his senior staff as a volunteer. House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said Thursday he would support changes to the state Ethics Act to include people in unpaid roles, such as A. Bray Cary Jr. Clark Barnes stepping down as WV Senate clerk Senate Clerk Clark Barnes confirmed Thursday that he will be resigning that position early next month, saying he has completed all the projects he envisioned when he was elected clerk in January 2015. “I’m project-oriented,” he said. “In the past three years, we’ve put in one project after another to move the Senate forward.” Broadband Fairmont one of four primary sites for massive NOAA, DOC cybersecurity operations center FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The I-79 Technology Park is listed as one of four sites for a major National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of Commerce (DOC) cybersecurity initiative, according to a NOAA draft request for proposal. FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules The FCC repealed its Obama-era net neutrality rules on Thursday, a step critics warn will upend the internet by allowing cable companies to control where their customers can go online. After Failed Low-Cost Internet Pilot, Madison, Wis., Pulls Plug (TNS) — Madison has terminated a $512,000 contract with a local company implementing a troubled pilot program to deliver low-cost internet service to four low-income neighborhoods. In a letter dated Nov. 20, the city ordered ResTech Services to “immediately cease and desist” work under the contract to build a fiber-optic broadband network to residents in the Darbo-Worthington, Brentwood, Allied Drive and Kennedy Heights neighborhoods. The pilot is part of a larger initiative still being studied to expand the city’s limited internet network to every resident and business, called Fiber To Premises, which could take more than $200 million in public and private investment. Opioid Pandemic & Pharmaceuticals Putnam prosecutor says state in crisis with escalating violence, drug addiction “Our situation in the regional jail system has come to a crisis level due to overdose deaths, lack of proper staffing, and inmate overcrowding. Many of our counties cannot pay their regional jail cost due to the increasing number of arrests.” As overdoses climb, gabapentin designated ‘drug of concern’ in WV The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy has designated the nerve-pain medication gabapentin — sold under the brand name Neurontin — a “drug of concern” amid a surge of overdoses. Medicinal Marijuana Advisory Board making progress for medical cannabis in the Mountain State MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A survey completed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources shows high interest of medical cannabis among both patients and physicians in the Mountain State. Commentary How Smaller Cities Can Attract (and Keep) Millennials In the last five years, places like Buffalo, N.Y., Providence, R.I., and Riverside, Calif., have attracted millennials at much faster rates than New York or San Francisco, thanks in large part to local initiatives that cater to those cities’ size and unique quality of place. www.thrivetolead.com In Other News Trump reconsiders rules protecting miners from black lung President Donald Trump’s mining regulators are reconsidering regulations meant to protect underground miners from breathing coal and rock dust, the cause of black lung disease, and diesel exhaust, which can cause cancer. States’ Newest Idea for Executing Prisoners? Opioids. As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation. Mining Set for a Comeback in Wisconsin After Scott Walker Ends 20-Year Moratorium Gov. Scott Walker signed a measure Monday clearing the way for mining copper and gold in Wisconsin, handing a win to business groups over the proposal’s environmental opponents. 5 Years Since Sandy Hook Shooting, How Have Schools Changed Security? “After Sandy Hook, you saw a tremendous increase in the number of buzzer systems,” said Dr. Amy Klinger, director of programs and co-founder of the Educator’s School Safety Network, a nonprofit that supports safer schools. By requiring that visitors be buzzed in by a receptionist or other staff member, schools say they’re adding a layer of control about who can gain access. Teacher Shortage Prompts Virginia Governor to Order Emergency Solutions As Virginia schools struggle with a dearth of teachers, Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants colleges and universities to be able to fast-track the training of aspiring educators. Importing Prescription Drugs Is Illegal. Some Cities, Counties and Schools Are Doing It Anyway. While the nation grapples with soaring prices of drugs, dozens of cities, counties and school districts across the country have quietly found a solution they say protects their budgets and saves workers money: They are helping their employees buy medicines from pharmacies in Canada and overseas, where prices are up to 80 percent cheaper. State Spending Grows at Lowest Pace Since Great Recession States’ general fund spending is projected to total $830.2 billion in fiscal 2018, which represents just 2.3 percent growth and the lowest spending increase since the Great Recession. Twenty-six states have already enacted budgets with general fund spending growth below 2 percent, and 15 states are cutting spending in fiscal 2018. Scott Cosco Hartman Harman Cosco, LLC H2Cstrategies.com 800-346-5127 Hartman Harman Cosco, Public Policy Strategists, LLC, (H2C) is a strategically assembled bipartisan lobbying firm comprised of legal, communications and policy professionals. H2C possesses the insight and intuition that only comes from decades of hands on experience leading community and statewide initiatives. CONTACT US