West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” March 24, 2018



Wild and Wonderful West Virginia



West Virginia drug czar resigns about seven weeks after appointed to post
Dr. Michael Brumage’s resignation as director of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Drug Control Policy is effective Friday, according to a news release from the DHHR.




The Legislature


West Virginia Lawmakers Say Special Session On Sports Betting Unnecessary
WHEELING — Republicans and Democrats in the West Virginia Legislature agree no changes are needed to sports betting legislation passed during the recent legislative session, and there is no need for Gov. Jim Justice to call a special session to amend it.


PEIA Task Force members divided into subcommittees
The 29-member PEIA Task Force, charged with finding a fix for the health insurance program for state workers, has been split into three subcommittees.





The Governor


Justice appoints retired auditor, House doorkeeper to House of Delegates
Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday he appointed Sharon Lewis Malcolm to the 39th District in the House of Delegates.


Even if Education and the Arts goes, Justice wants an arts secretary
Gov. Jim Justice says he may be obligated to sign a bill dissolving the Department of Education and the Arts if it saves money.


But Justice has a big caveat: He says even if the department is dismantled, he still wants a cabinet secretary for the arts.


Justice signs bill dealing with guns in employers’ parking lots
Gov. Jim Justice has signed a bill that would allow people to keep firearms locked in their vehicles while parked on their employer’s property.


Justice touts construction, road bond jobs
“We don’t need Bloomberg to write our story,” the governor said. “We don’t need the Wall Street Journal to write the success story of West Virginia. We need to write it.”





Shale Crescent USA could challenge Gulf Coast petrochemical industry, study says
Applied Economics Vice President Ron Whitfield said the study, which he oversaw, looked at the potential return on investment over a 20-year time frame, how pricing levels would impact those returns and other risk factors, including differences in capital costs, operating rates, customer proximity and access to international markets.



Health Care


Report: Boone County leads US in per-capita opioid-related costs
The opioid epidemic is costing Boone County’s economy an estimated $206.5 million a year — the highest per-capita burden of any county in America, according to a new report by the American Enterprise Institute.


Can Taxing Pain Pills Alleviate the Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic, which killed 64,000 Americans in 2016, is making governments resort to unprecedented policies for saving lives and preventing addiction in the first place.


Amid Opioid Crisis, States Struggle to Spend Hundreds of Millions in Federal Money to Fight It
Mixed signals from the Trump administration on how to use the money and state challenges ramping up their efforts have left untouched more than three-quarters of the $500 million Congress set aside under the 21st Century Cures Act in late 2016.


Language for Jessie’s Law makes it into omnibus spending bill

The legislation is named after Jessie Grubb, a Charleston native who had battled opioid addiction for seven years before becoming sober and moving to Michigan. She was six-months clean when she underwent surgery for a running-related injury. The discharging doctor was unaware of Grubb’s addiction and prescribed her 50 oxycodone pills. She died the following day at the age of 30.


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said he was able to get the Jessie’s Law wording in the spending bill.


“If there’s one thing that’s most satisfying is knowing that Jessie is going to live on by saving more and more lives because of what we know now,” Manchin said.


Wheeling’s needle exchange program is not getting the kinds of criticisms reported in Charleston
Nearly three years into its own harm reduction program, an official with the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department says his community is not seeing the kinds pushback on the effort that includes needle exchanges like his counterparts in Charleston





Officials unveil college funding formula details
Officials with the state’s High Education Policy Commission, which oversees four-year colleges and universities, unveiled a formula that would use a school’s performance to determine how much money it gets from the state.


House education chairman says he’d be OK with Justice’s arts secretary idea
“I share the governor’s commitment to the arts and would support cabinet-level representation of these important programs in a manner consistent with eliminating excess bureaucracy,” said House Education Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson.



In Other News


Are More Strikes Coming? West Virginia Wasn’t the Only State Neglecting Employee Health Care.
The problem: The state is required to keep 14 percent of its anticipated health care payments for current employees on reserve but was running $29 million short. The legislature’s solution: Increase deductibles and copayments for state employees, who currently pay for 20 percent of their plans.