June 20, 1863 — 155 years old






Did you know? The Central United Methodist in Fairmont, WV was the first to celebrate Father’s Day.




West Virginia State Gov’t News

“Your Week in the Know” June 15, 2018



The Lead


Commerce Secretary Thrasher resigns at Governor Justice’s request


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice today asked for and received the resignation of Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, the administration announced in a news release.


That means the government arm of West Virginia economic development is without its top three officers.


Thrasher has now been forced out, Development Office executive director Kris Hopkins left of his own accord, and Josh Jarrell, the deputy secretary for Commerce, was also pushed out.


Commerce memo says WV flood housing progress stopped for ‘pause’



CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An internal memo from the state Department of Commerce contends this spring’s pause on a long-term flood relief contract had significant effects on the effort.


The pause affected progress for homes where construction had started, delayed ceremonies for applicants who were set to sign on as homeowners and slowed down environmental reviews that were part of the recovery process, Commerce contended.


The pause also threw construction workers into uncertainty and potentially risked sacrificing the millions of dollars administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce concluded.


Top legislative Democrats say Governor Justice needs to meet responsibilities or resign


“It’s just one scandal after another,” Prezioso, D-Marion, said in a telephone interview this afternoon.


Prezioso made reference to longstanding controversies over the taxes and debts owed by Justice’s businesses, the governor’s preference for performing his duties from his home in Greenbrier County, complaints about the administration’s willingness and ability to answer questions about the functions of government and recent concerns about whether West Virginia flood victims have received attention in a timely manner.

Scrutiny of West Virginia’s long-term flood relief grows


Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead announced on May 23 an investigation into how the state has handled long-term disaster recovery.

Now the investigation will expand to include not only a look at how money from HUD has been handled but also the effects of relief efforts under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


That’s according to a memo distributed by Senator Ed Gaunch and Delegate Roger Hanshaw, the chairmen of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Flooding.


Justice announces appointment of W. Clayton Burch interim Secretary of Commerce

CHARLESTON, WVa. (WCHS/WVAH) — Governor Jim Justice has appointed W. Clayton Burch as Interim Secretary of Commerce, effective immediately.


Burch has been serving as the Associate State Superintendent of Schools and Acting Secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts.


“Truly, economic development is an important engine that drives our state, and we must have an outstanding team in place that understands how to bring business and jobs to West Virginia,” he said in the release.



“I’m not going to get into that gutter right there. I’m just saying that from this point forward, we need leadership. We’re at a critical juncture in our state. We need to move forward.” – Senator Roman Prezioso
Justice blasts back at Democrats after suggestions he should resign
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice did not promise to start living near the Capitol or to immediately make good on his debts today.


Instead, the governor blasted back at Democrats, saying they want him to conduct business as usual while his focus is on big achievements.

“I’m available 24-7 all the time. And you know what I do? I get it done,” Justice said.


The governor showed up at a 9 a.m. news conference about flood relief today with two whiteboards, filled with defenses about the way he conducts his job.


“Now my dilemma on this is just this, I really couldn’t figure out whether Roman (Prezioso) was Chuck (Schumer) or Nancy (Pelosi) or whether Tim (Miley) was Chuck or Nancy. That’s my biggest dilemma here, which one is which? But you know, I figured it out. Here’s how I figured it out. Roman carries in his wallet a picture of when he played high school football in his football uniform and he dies to show it to everyone coming and going. He’s showed it to me twice. So really and truly if he was a football player he’d be Chuck and Tim we’ll say is Nancy.” – Governor Jim Justice.





White House considered Manchin to lead VA

WASHINGTON — Senior White House officials were in serious discussions with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., this spring to gauge his interest in joining President Donald Trump’s cabinet as Veterans Affairs secretary after presidential physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination imploded, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions.


Manchin Touts Border Wall Vote in Bid for Trump Fans
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has released a new TV ad touting his support for President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the southern U.S. border. Manchin, a former governor, is running in November against West Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Trump won the state by 42 points in 2016.


“Hey, I wanted Mexico to pay for the wall. But they’re not. So we need to do it ourselves. I voted to fund President Trump’s wall. Check the vote.” — US Senator Joe Manchin





STEM education a priority for WV Forward

MORGANTOWN — In addition to forming partnerships to improve the state’s economy, the West Virginia Forward initiative includes several programs to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs to strengthen the workforce.


Details on some of these programs were among several presentations given during West Virginia University’s recent Academic Media day.


Report: West Virginia University Wields Most Influence in State

MORGANTOWN — Through collaboration and research, West Virginia University is building upon its reputation as the state’s most influential entity.


Joyce McConnell, WVU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the university received the “most influential” designation on the Forbes Map. She said the business publication chose WVU as the single entity that could bring everyone together, create partnerships and move the state forward.


Fairmont State introduces new university logo

In January of this year, Fairmont State University embarked on a logo and branding research and revision project. In May, three new logo variations were voted on by various segments of the Falcon community. Wednesday, Fairmont State University released the new look of the Fairmont State University Falcons.



Budget & Economy


Pew report: Short-term money can mean long-term budget woes for states

States can get into fiscal trouble by building one-time revenue sources into their budgets, often without realizing they’re doing it, a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts concludes.


“Relying on one-time bumps in revenue is an easy short-term fix for these budget gaps, but it serves to exacerbate fiscal problems in the long run,” project manager Steve Bailey said during a webinar Thursday for the Pew report “State Strategies for Maintaining a Balanced Budget.”


Link to Report





AP/Carolyn Thompson)


Libraries across the country are training their staff to administer the drug that can reverse an overdose.
Beyond Books: How Libraries Are the Latest Front in the Opioid Fight
“One of the great things about libraries, if you are homeless or transitionally housed, is you don’t have to purchase anything to use the library — and the bathroom is unlocked. So it’s a place where people can and will inject themselves,” says Lisa Raville, executive director for the Harm Reduction Action Center in Denver.


Amid Opioid Crisis, Drug Take-Backs Gain Popularity
While Washington is the first state to create a statewide take-back program, the concept isn’t new. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) got the go-ahead to establish safe disposal sites in 2010. Dozens of cities and counties nationwide have already created their own programs (there were three county programs in Washington state when Peterson’s bill passed), and last year CVS introduced disposal kiosks in 750 of its pharmacies. Once Washington state’s program gets up and running, pharmacies and law enforcement agencies are expected to be the primary sites for dropping off unused drugs.
(AP Photo)


A change in federal law lets more than just law enforcement agencies collect unused and unwanted pills.


Morrisey urges doctors, pharmacists to embrace anti-opioid law

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is reminding health care providers they now can refuse opioid-based medication to treat pain because of legislation he promoted.


Morrisey pushed lawmakers to adopt an anti-retaliation law to alleviate any negative consequences for doctors who follow their best medical judgment and refuse to prescribe addictive, deadly painkillers. The first-of-its-kind provision gained passage as part of Senate Bill 273, and the law took effect this month





Microsoft eyeing up to $2M in investment in West Virginia

The technology giant has said it wants to partner with and give funding to internet providers, instead of jumping into competitive markets by itself. Who the provider will be in West Virginia has yet to be announced, but Hinton said the company is looking to invest $1 million to $2 million in the state through the initiative.


Capito continues work to connect West Virginia

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Since launching her “Capito Connect” plan in 2015, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has been working to advance new solutions to connect West Virginia.


A recent study by the Federal Communications Commission indicated that 56 percent of West Virginia residents do not have access to broadband services that meet its benchmarks. In rural areas, the number is even higher at 74 percent.





Frustrated American Medical Association adopts sweeping policies aimed at gun violence

At its annual policymaking meeting, the nation’s largest physicians group bowed to unprecedented demands from doctor-members to take a stronger stand on gun violence — a problem the organizations says is as menacing as a lethal infectious disease.


The action comes against a backdrop of recurrent school shootings, everyday street violence in the nation’s inner cities, and rising U.S. suicide rates.


Assault rifles for sale in Virginia.Jim Watson / AFP – Getty Images file