West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” May 11, 2018





Morrisey, Manchin to face off in US Senate race
After navigating a primary that drew national attention, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will face incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in the November general election.


Ojeda versus Miller for open congressional seat
State Senator Richard Ojeda will face state Delegate Carol Miller in the race for an open congressional seat representing southern West Virginia.


Young delegates say population drop, lack of jobs inspiration for entering state politics
U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the average age in the Mountain State is 41.3, higher than the national average of 37. Furthermore, the state saw a two percent drop in population between 2010 and 2017. This included young adults seeking opportunities in other states.


Despite this and partly because of this, some youth decided to stay and have entered the realm of state politics. One of them is Putnam County Delegate Joshua Higginbotham. Representing West Virginia’s 13th District, he was first elected in 2016 at the age of 18.

WV House: Candidates advance in hopes of succeeding longtime delegates
Among contested House of Delegate primaries of local interest Tuesday, Dean Jeffries and David “Woody” Holmes won nominations for seats held by two long-serving delegates in the House.


In the 39th District, a Republican stronghold seat held for years by Delegate Ron Walters, R-Kanawha, until his sudden, forced resignation in March, David “Woody” Holmes prevailed in the Democrat primary, in what he hopes will be the first step in an effort to “flip” the longtime GOP seat.


First time Senate primary winners use different strategies
There are some political newcomers who have advanced to the November General Election in state Senate races including a 30-year pastor and a community and economic development professional.


Dr. Rollan Roberts defeated Raleigh County Senator Lynne Arvon in Tuesday’s Republican primary in the 9th Senatorial District. Roberts is the longtime pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Beaver. He placed his name in the running when Gov. Jim Justice was looking for a quick replacement for now former Senator Jeff Mullins at the beginning of the last legislative session. Arvon was appointed. Roberts then decided to run against her.



The Governor


Justice still plans special session on WV sports gaming, arts department
Gov. Jim Justice said he still plans to call the Legislature in for a special session this month, dealing with his plans for a revamped state arts department as well as West Virginia’s sports betting law.


Justice’s ‘tentative deal’ on WV sports betting is news to casinos
Gov. Jim Justice put out a news release shortly before noon today, touting a tentative deal between casinos and major league sports teams about sports betting in West Virginia.


The issue has been whether casinos would pay an “integrity fee” — essentially a tax on all bets placed — to the pro sports leagues.





Marshall University names a new provost
Marshall University has named a new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.


The new provost, Jaime Taylor, has been serving as the dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Austin Peay State University.


WVU, Marshall state their concerns about WV sports betting
Representatives of West Virginia’s casinos and professional sports leagues – along with officials from West Virginia and Marshall universities – gathered at state Lottery headquarters for a closed-door meeting to talk about sports gaming.


HEPC board adds members from Morgantown, panhandles to chancellor search committee
The Higher Education Policy Committee board took about 2 minutes Monday to vote to add four more members to a search committee for a new chancellor.


Two are from the panhandles, one from Morgantown, one Glenville State College “Alumnus of the Year” and all are relatively well-known West Virginia education names: Bruce Berry, Sandra Chapman, Mary J.C. Hendrix and Gary Ray.



Health Care


Drug firm execs reject blame for opioid crisis

With one exception, top executives with drug companies accused of flooding West Virginia with prescription painkillers told a congressional panel Tuesday that their shipping practices did not contribute to the opioid epidemic.


Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., who heads a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee investigating massive shipments of opioid drugs to small-town pharmacies, called on the CEOs of the nation’s largest distributors to say whether they believed their firms paved the way for the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history.


Huntington part of Mayors’ Institute on Opioids in Boston this week

BOSTON, Mass. — Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is representing his city in Boston this week for a meeting with five other cities impacted by the opioid epidemic.


“The intent is for city leaders to come together with their teams to address how we might be able to align our resources to fight the opioid epidemic. We’re going to learn from one another,” Williams told MetroNews in a phone interview Wednesday.


Ohio shies away from drug plan that saved West Virginia $38 million
West Virginia saved $38 million the first year it dumped managed care and handled pharmacy benefits for state workers and Medicaid recipients through a state university.


But Ohio refuses to even consider such a model for its multibillion-dollar Medicaid system, claiming such a change actually would cost the state money.


How can that be?





Treasurer proposes banking fixes for WV medical marijuana program
State Treasurer John Perdue proposed legislative changes Thursday to patch up West Virginia’s financial infrastructure behind a medical marijuana program scheduled to start next year.


In a letter to Gov. Jim Justice, Perdue offered two options to enable the state treasury to handle funds within the medical cannabis program.



In Other News


Rumble strips installed along I-64 construction zone
Rumble strips have been installed outside the Interstate 64 highway work zone between Cabell and Putnam counties as part of a continued safety effort to slow motorists down, state officials announced Monday.