West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” February 14, 2018



The 2018 Legislative Session



WV school employee strike explained

West Virginia is in the middle of its second-ever teacher strike. Teachers, this time joined by school service personnel, walked off the job Thursday, when thousands came to the state Capitol to show their frustration with legislators and Gov. Jim Justice over what the employees believe are inadequate pay and benefits and harmful legislation. Of the employees who didn’t come to the Capitol, many demonstrated outside their schools and in their communities.




The Legislature


Senate passes sports betting bill
CHARLESTON — A sports gambling bill passed by the West Virginia Senate on Tuesday could be used to generate revenue to help fund the Public Employees Insurance Agency.


Half of House Democrats join to pass work requirements for SNAP benefits
By a wide margin, members of the House of Delegates approved a bill Tuesday that would force state officials to eventually implement work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps.


House passes bill to reduce number of state regulations
The House of Delegates passed a bill Wednesday that supporters say will reduce the number of burdensome regulations in state government while opponents say the bill targets an issue that’s not an issue


House approves funding stream for future PEIA costs
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Teachers to continue strike on Monday
West Virginia teachers will continue their strike for a third day on Monday, state teachers union leaders announced late Friday.


Manchin wades into WV teacher walkout
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who was out among teachers at the state Capitol today, suggested a special session would be a wise move to address the concerns of teachers and service personnel.


“There’s got to be a pathway forward. I would like to see them call a special session,” Manchin said today in the Rotunda. “A special session would really go a long way in helping them.”


Carmichael greets the crowd at the Capitol
After this morning’s Senate floor session, with a crowd of thousands of chanting teachers in the Rotunda, Carmichael strode out the front door of the chamber to greet them.


The crowd booed.

Carmichael stood for a few moments on the stairs overlooking the crowd.


He looked at the teachers.


The teachers looked at him and kept on chanting: “We will. Vote you out. We will. Vote you out.”


Then Carmichael turned and walked away.

Carmichael again addresses rallying teachers
Friday, Carmichael made a motion with his hand to ask for quiet. It had some effect. Part of what he said had to do with his belief that the Legislature already has made several moves to improve pay and to shore up the Public Employees Insurance Agency. He also thanked teachers for being here.


He got a few words out, but they were muffled by the crowd of thousands. During part of Carmichael’s talk, some in the crowd chanted “O-je-da,” a reference to the Democratic senator from Logan County who is running for Congress.


‘Dumb bunnies’ in WV teacher crowds protest comment by Governor Justice
West Virginia teachers want Gov. Jim Justice to know they are not dumb bunnies.


“He underestimates us. He underestimates us. He doesn’t think we’re as smart as we are,” said Melissa Turley, a middle school teacher in Logan County. “To refer to us as dumb bunnies just shows us that he’s not very smart.”


WVU students to intern at state Capitol
MORGANTOWN — Eleven students from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at WVU have been selected to intern at the West Virginia State Legislature this semester.


Colleges Are Promising High Schoolers That Getting Suspended For Protesting Guns Won’t Hurt Their Admissions Chances
In the Needville Independent School District just outside Houston, Texas, the superintendent reportedly sent out letters threatening three-day suspensions for any student who joins in on walkouts…Now colleges are standing up for the teenage activists, saying it won’t affect their admissions decisions if they get suspended for protesting.



Opinion and Perspective


Jerriann Cochran, Regina Larkin: It has been 28 years, and WV teachers are still waiting

According to Bradley, then-Gov. Gaston Caperton had reneged on the promise of a 5 percent pay raise and fully covering the cost of health insurance of the teachers who were 49th in pay. Bradley quoted the governor as saying, “On the issue of teacher compensation, there isn’t a whole lot of dispute between teachers and this office,” he said. “We agree that they are paid too little, period. But it’s another thing to find the money to make a difference.”


It is now 28 years later and the issues haven’t changed. The state of West Virginia is still 48th or 49th in teacher pay depending on the source. The average pay in West Virginia is $45,000 which is misleading when the base pay is $33,000. Most teachers can work close to 20 years and not even reach average pay.


Sunday Perspective: Not your mom’s teacher strike?
Has anyone else noticed a different feeling in the air leading up to this teacher strike compared to 1990? A feeling is difficult to quantify, but perhaps it started a few weeks ago as teachers sent delegations to their county school board meetings.
Daily Mail editorial: Frustration and anger of teachers boil over
Frustration over low pay and non-existent across-the-board raises has been building for years, as teachers quietly continued to perform their jobs dutifully despite an average pay level that ranks among the lowest of the 50 states.


Daily Mail editorial: Returning to stale old policies won’t fix West Virginia
Since 1950, the U.S. population has more than doubled, while West Virginia’s has shrunk by about 10 percent. The state has among the lowest rates of workforce participation, ranks low on educational attainment, ranks 49th in per capita income, and ranks 50th in U.S. News and World Report’s list of best states for business environment.


Statehouse Beat: A former chief justice and a no-show governor
According to participants, who for obvious reasons didn’t want to comment on the record, it was a rather contentious affair — particularly since Loughry’s reorganization resulted in many senior administrators being demoted out of leadership positions through the consolidation of 27 divisions down to six.


When higher education languishes, so does Michigan
Education is a public good. The states with the highest percentage of college graduates — Massachusetts, Colorado, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut — are the most prosperous. The state’s with the fewest college graduates — Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia — are the poorest. It’s as simple as that.



Health Care


Implementing States’ Medicaid Wishes Won’t Be Cheap
Last month, the Trump administration opened the door for states to, among other things, make employment a condition for Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor. It has already approved Kentucky and Indiana’s waivers, and at least eight other states have asked the federal government for permission to make similar changes. Several more are likely to follow suit.


Overdose Deaths Fall in 14 States Heading
New provisional data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drug overdose deaths declined in 14 states during the 12-month period that ended July 2017, a potentially hopeful sign that policies aimed at curbing the death toll may be working.


The Week in Public Finance: How One County Put a Number on the Opioid Crisis
It’s hard to put a number to the cost of the opioid crisis. But that didn’t stop Minnesota’s largest county from trying. After being caught by surprise when various costs started spiking, officials decided to take a hard look at the budget.



Public Safety


Does the Second Amendment Protect Assault Weapons? 4 Courts Said No.
“Nine terrified children ran from one of the classrooms when the gunman paused to reload, while two youngsters successfully hid in a restroom,” Judge Robert B. King, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, wrote in the majority opinion. “Another child was the other classroom’s sole survivor. In all, the gunman fired at least 155 rounds of ammunition within five minutes, shooting each of his victims multiple times.”


Trump Backs Arming Teachers in Meeting With School Shooting Survivors
“We as a country failed our children,” said a visibly angry Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was among those killed in last week’s high school massacre. “I can’t get on a plane with a bottle of water. But some animal can walk into a school and kill our children. … It should have been one school shooting, and we should have fixed it.”


Oregon legislature passes bill strengthening state’s gun laws
The Oregon legislature passed a bill Thursday banning anyone with a domestic violence conviction from owning a firearm, according to KOIN 6 local news station.


Enterprise, Alamo, National will no longer give NRA members discounts on car rentals
Three major car rental companies and a bank have ended discounts and deals for National Rifle Association members a week after the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.





Medical marijuana recommendations head to state Legislature
The board tasked with implementing the state’s medical marijuana law plans to pass along nearly a dozen recommendations to the state Legislature.


The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted Tuesday on rules for state lawmakers to consider.



In Other News


Trump Infrastructure Plan Wants to Stop ‘Overreliance’ on Federal Money
State and local officials who have clamored for years for the federal government to increase spending on infrastructure projects like highways, transit and water systems won’t get much new money under President Donald Trump’s infrastructure package. But they could get help building those projects more quickly.