West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” December 22, 2017







Tax Reform Troubles


‘I Was An Easy Pickup’: How Trump Lost Manchin on Taxes
“I was an easy pickup. Very easy pickup,” Manchin said. “And a couple, two, three other Democrats would have been easy pickups, if they had just made an effort.”


Not one of those Trump-state Democrats has budged on Obamacare repeal or taxes, to the surprise of Democrats themselves, who entered the year with their brains and confidence scrambled by Trump’s win.



Public Safety


Senate confirms Stuart as U.S. attorney for Southern District of WV
The U.S. Senate confirmed a Charleston lawyer Wednesday to serve as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.


Pending the signature of President Donald Trump, Mike Stuart, 50, will be sworn in for the position currently held by Carol Casto.


Charleston City Council approves bulletproof vests for EMS, firefighters
Fire officials were already looking into the idea of bullet proof vests for the city’s 170 firefighters when a city ambulance was shot on a run last summer. No one was ever arrested for firing into the ambulance. Hodges said times have changed and the vests are needed.



The Legislature


‘Inside West Virginia Politics’ Looks Back on 2017; Ahead to 2018
All may be quiet inside the West Virginia capitol now, but that will change when the Legislature returns January 10th for the 2018 session. We’ll preview the top issues in the session this Sunday on “Inside West Virginia Politics” as well as look back at 2017.


“I like to fashion it as, we passed a skinny budget, that was responsible and tightened the state’s budget. But we went big on the roads plan and infrastructure,” said Del. Daryl Cowles, (R) Morgan – Majority Leader.


WVPB’s The Legislature Today Moves to the State Capitol
For the first time, West Virginia Public Broadcasting is moving its nightly broadcast about the state Legislature to the state Capitol building itself.


The Legislature Today is West Virginia’s only nightly program devoted to covering the state Legislature. WVPB officials believe the broadcast site from the Capitol will offer viewers and listeners the most up-to-the-minute information.





THE THREE REPUBLICAN commissioners now in power at the FCC voted this week to erase the agency’s legal authority over high-speed Internet providers. They claim that competition will protect consumers, that the commission shouldn’t interfere in the “dynamic internet ecosystem,” and that they are “protecting internet freedom.” Now that the vote is done, the agency has little to do but mess around with spectrum allocations. The mega-utility of the 21st century officially has no regulator.



Opioid Pandemic & Pharmaceuticals


Amid Opioid Crisis, Needle Exchanges Are Losing Their Stigma
There’s long been a stigma surrounding needle exchange programs, with many believing that they condone and encourage illegal drug use. But that idea is fading rapidly. “There’s been a sea change,” says Raymond. “The stigma comes from unfamiliarity.” Contrary to common misperceptions, he says, needle exchange programs aren’t crack dens or safe places to shoot up.


MU names director of addiction sciences
HUNTINGTON – As Marshall University builds toward establishing itself as a global leader in addiction studies, the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine announced Monday the arrival Dr. Daniel Langleben as its founding director of addiction sciences- a new position provided by a $1.25 million endowment by the Maier Foundation.


Dozens show up for drug response meeting in Charleston
Dozens of people packed into a meeting room at the West Virginia Water Development Office in Charleston on Thursday for a discussion about how the state should respond to the opioid epidemic.


The state Office of Drug Control Policy held a three-hour public comment meeting to get input on the plan, which will be written by a panel of public health experts and presented to Gov. Jim Justice and the state Legislature.


Opiates to opioids: Transportation system makes change in drug policy
One of the state’s largest public transportation systems has made a one word change in its drug testing policy in connection with the current drug epidemic.


“We changed the word opiates to opioids,” Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT) Assistant General Manager Doug Hartley said Thursday. “That allows a broader spectrum of drugs that are looked at during the testing process. Some of the synthetic drugs by definition were not opiates.”


As WV overdose death rate rises, DHHR works to develop response plan
“This is a fast moving crisis. It’s evolving and we need to react and figure out what to do,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner for the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health.





Cannabis as medicine: Fresno council opens door to allowing medical pot operations
The 7-0 vote begins the process of rewriting the city’s complete ban on commercial marijuana operations that was adopted earlier this year. It will likely be several months, however, before drafts emerge for ordinances and rules that will govern where and how businesses that cultivate, process, manufacture, distribute or sell medical marijuana can operate within the city.





Hoppy’s Commentary: Bray Cary’s role in Governor’s office questioned
And that brings us to the unique role of Bray Cary as an unpaid volunteer in Governor Jim Justice’s office. West Virginians best know Cary as the former owner of West Virginia Media television stations and host of the TV interview program Decision Makers.


Lance Boldrey: On legalizing marijuana in Michigan
“I do think there are flaws in there that could be exploited in an opposition campaign. On the other hand, there is just a ton of momentum nationally and within Michigan when it comes to public opinions on this industry. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with that initiative — whether there’s a legal challenge that goes after some legal flaws in the initiative, whether opponents are really able to gin up a significant fight against it or not. If it’s just the straight question of ‘Do you support adult use of marijuana?’ that polls very positively. The devil’s kind of in the details in terms of whether folks continue to perceive this one positively.”



In Other News


Health Care News You May Have Missed in 2017
Although it seems like it at times, Obamacare wasn’t the only health policy debated this year. Don’t forget about changes to Medicaid, the debate over drug pricing, further restrictions on abortion, the rollout of marijuana laws, and of course, the fizzing out of the soda pop tax.


Georgia Lawmakers Try to Prompt Growth with Tax Cuts, Internet
(TNS) — A powerful group of state lawmakers approved sweeping proposals Wednesday designed to encourage people and businesses to move to rural Georgia.


The group voted unanimously to support income tax breaks worth up to $6,000 a year, high-speed internet lines in unconnected areas and better health care access.


EQT to Spend Additional $2.2B in New Shale Wells
BELMONT — EQT Corp. completed its $8.2 billion acquisition of Rice Energy last month, while the Pittsburgh-based firm now plans to spend an additional $2.2 billion drilling new Marcellus and Utica shale wells during 2018.


The Only Oil-and-Gas State Not Taxing Drilling
Pennsylvania became the first place in the world to successfully drill for oil back in the 1850s. Over the past decade, however, natural gas has overtaken oil as the big game in the state. Pennsylvania is now the nation’s second-leading producer of natural gas, after Texas. Naturally, lawmakers are wary of tampering with the golden goose. “Right now, you have an industry that’s growing and not asking for state dollars, like others,” says Steve Miskin, a spokesman for state House Speaker Mike Turzai. “It has brought back great-paying jobs.”


Pittsburgh-Based Company Sets Sights on Flying, Autonomous Consumer Tech
Near Earth Autonomy, a Pittsburgh autonomous drone and aircraft company, moved into a new facility Monday to cap a momentous 2017.


The company’s new space on North Lexington Street in Point Breeze has room for it to double in size — something Near Earth could do quickly, said CEO Sanjiv Singh. Self-flying technology is advancing rapidly as new applications for it are being discovered, Singh said.




Scott Cosco

Hartman Harman Cosco, LLC





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.