West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” March 4, 2018



The 2018 Legislative Session



Brad McElhinny/MetroNews
West Virginia legislature can’t break impasse over raises for striking teachers
Charleston, West Virginia (CNN) – The West Virginia legislature argued for hours but could not agree Saturday on how much to raise teachers’ pay — meaning the teachers strike may well extend into an eighth day Monday.


Senate, House have a long way to go to reach the finish line

“One of the most important things we need to do — and it hasn’t run in the House yet — is get control of the Supreme Court budget,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson. “The budget of the court system in West Virginia has to be brought under the control of the Legislature so that we have that money, we can monitor it closely and we can afford things like teacher pay raises and other things if we find that there’s frivolous spending.”


Turning over control of the Supreme Court’s budget to the Legislature would require an amendment to the state Constitution. Senate Joint Resolution 9, passed by the Senate on Feb. 15, would put the issue up for a vote by state residents.




The Legislature


WV Senate attorney advocates for legislation, breaking Senate rules
A Senate finance attorney with a history of ethics violations testified in support of a bill before the Senate Education Committee last week, in apparent defiance of Senate rules.


Manfred says he’ll urge governor to veto ‘fundamentally flawed’ sports betting bill
As a bill legalizing sports betting in West Virginia nears the finish line, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred warns the legislation is “fundamentally flawed.”


Senate passes drilling bill dealing with owners’ rights
The state Senate today approved a natural gas drilling bill dealing with the rights of multiple owners on a single piece of property.


Anti-abortion legislation set for final vote in WV House
In a party-line vote, West Virginia House Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment to abortion legislation on Saturday that could have allowed lawmakers to end Medicaid-funded abortion sooner in West Virginia.



The Governor


Most recent WV revenue report is up $8 million, Justice reports
West Virginia’s state revenue ran slightly higher than expected this past month.


That’s important to know as state leaders determine whether a revised revenue estimate for the coming fiscal year is reliable.


Gov. Jim Justice bumped up the revenue estimate for next fiscal year by $58 million this week as the state tries to figure out how to pay for a greater pay raise for educators.

Senate’s $4.35B budget plan so far does not include Justice’s revenue bump
Senate Finance Committee members began reviewing the proposed 2018-19 state general revenue budget Saturday, a budget that staff said is $28 million short of being balanced at the moment.


The overview of the budget bill was a prelude to later debate on the House of Delegate’s proposal to give teachers, school service personnel and State Police a 5 percent pay raise this year (House Bill 4145), in which many senators cited budget uncertainty as a reason to reduce the raises by one percent.


Justice makes PEIA task force appointments
The new task force formed to tackle the challenges of the state Public Employees Insurance Agency will meet for the first time March 13, a news release from the office of Gov. Jim Justice said.





Education worker groups say schools will remain closed until “Senate honors agreement”
The three organizations representing the thousands of education workers across the state are urging their members to travel to the state capitol Monday after the state Senate voted Saturday night to reduce a House of Delegates-passed pay raise bill from five percent to four percent.


WVU’s Gee addresses the State of the University
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU President Gordon Gee addressed a litany of topics during his 2018 State of the University Address Tuesday, including student debt, declining funds from the Legislature, and the future of all American higher education.


Q and A: Higher Education Teams Up to Tackle to Economic Development in Southern W.Va.
It’s called the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia. President Kendra Boggess said the partnership is in line with Concord’s mission of serving the community. Boggess as well as Vice President of Human Resources, Policy, and Planning Dan Fitzpatrick recently spoke with reporter Jessica Lilly about the initiative.



Health Care


Justice Department to target opioid manufacturers, distributors in new effort to curb epidemic

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice says it will join states in lawsuits against opioid manufactures and distributors and use a new task force to address the nationwide drug epidemic


U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the department’s new policy during a Tuesday press conference in Washington, D.C.


Morrisey suspends challenge of ‘broken’ DEA drug quota system
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is asking a federal appeals court to put on hold his request to review the Drug Enforcement Administration’s production quota for prescription opioids.





Colorado to use $10 million from cannabis taxes to pay teachers
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently introduced his proposal for the 2018-2019 budget, and included $10 million to hire and retain teachers in the state using cannabis taxes money.


This $10 million, that comes from Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, will help find qualified people to fill in more than 3,000 teacher positions throughout the state, particularly in rural areas. Some teaching positions in math, science and foreign languages have been empty for years.



Opinion and Perspective


Statehouse Beat: Teacher strike a fiasco for Justice, Legislature

For Gov. Jim Justice, it’s a toss-up which approach has been less effective: being a governor in absentia, or attempting to put himself in the middle of negotiations.



In Other News


Huntington documentary will take 3 Cabell County women to Sunday’s Academy Awards
This weekend, Necia Freeman with Brown Bag Ministries, Cabell County Family Court Judge Patricia Keller and Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader leave for Los Angeles where they will join Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon, the filmmakers, for the 90th Academy Awards.


“Heroin(e)” is nominated in the Documentary Short category.