January 2016

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January 14, 2016

Cole, Kessler see State of the State differently
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate President Bill Cole says the Senate will keep up the pace it set in last year’s legislative session when Republicans took over the body for the first time in more than 80 years.

“We got to work (today),” Cole said after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State Address Wednesday night. “We didn’t waste a day.”

Issues like right to work...

January 14, 2016

Right to Work protests precede State of the State
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was preparing to deliver his final State of the State address Wednesday night, a large crowd of union members jammed into the rotunda to protest Right to Work.

Republican legislators wasted no time introducing a bill Wednesday on the first day of the 2016 Session to make West Virginia a Right to Work state.

Legislators had to...

January 14, 2016

Cole won't say if he'll abide by WV Supreme Court decision
By David Gutman, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

West Virginia Senate President Bill Cole on Wednesday refused to say if he would abide by the ruling of the state Supreme Court, if the court rules that a Democrat should fill the vacant seat in the Senate created by the resignation of Democrat-turned-Republican Daniel Hall.

Asked repeatedly if he would abide by the court’s decision, the state’s highest...

January 14, 2016

Unions rally at the Capitol during State of the State
By Andrew Brown, Charleston Gazette-Mail

The volume of the crowd grew exponentially louder in the state Capitol and from the far end of the marble-lined Rotunda boos began to mix with the chants of “right-to-work is wrong.”

As Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, made his way toward the House Chamber, his path grew narrower. The walls of unionized teachers, carpenters, electricians and miners squeezed...

January 14, 2016

GOP leaders split on Tomblin's tax proposals
By David Gutman and Eric Eyre, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Republican legislative leaders were split over Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s proposal to partially fill the state’s budget shortfall with tax increases, with Senate President Bill Cole open to the idea and House Speaker Tim Armstead deeply skeptical.

Armstead said House members favor cutting state government spending — not raising taxes. In addition to...

January 18, 2016

Statehouse Beat: Tomblin handled budget deficit plans well
By Phil Kabler, Statehouse Reporter
Consensus from longtime Statehouse observers is that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin did a masterful job of framing the debate on how to address the combined $820 million of funding deficits in the current and upcoming 2016–17 state budgets.
He rationally spelled out a plan that combines $250 million of spending cuts imposed over the past two years with some prudent...

January 19, 2016

Randolph delegate Denise Campbell files for Senate run
By Alex Wiederspiel, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Delegate Denise Campbell (D, Randolph – 43) officially filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office Monday afternoon, launching her bid for the Democratic nomination for the 11th Senatorial District.

She is the first Democrat to enter the field to challenge Senator Greg Boso (R, Nicholas – 11). Governor Tomblin appointed Boso to this...

January 19, 2016

Fayette parents lobby lawmakers for safer schools
By Pamela Pritt, (Beckley) Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — A group of Fayette County parents wearing orange T-shirts saying FUSE walked the halls of the State Capitol Monday talking with anyone who would listen about the state of the schools their children attend.

Fayette United for Safe Education scheduled meetings with the chairs of education in both chambers, Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, and...

January 19, 2016

Court offers little clarity in arguments on Hall’s Senate seat
By David Gutman, Political Reporter, WV Gazette Mail

Nearly one hour of oral arguments before the state Supreme Court offered little clarity about which party will fill a vacant state Senate seat that will determine the course of the 2016 legislative session.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties claim the right to fill the seat -- which represents Wyoming and Raleigh counties and part of...

January 19, 2016

Court considers arguments about how to fill vacant Senate seat
By Pamela Pritt, Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — Voter intent or party affiliation?

That's the heart of the question before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, placed there because of the resignation of former state Sen. Daniel Hall, who resigned earlier this month to become a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. Hall was elected as a Democrat in 2012, but switched...

January 20, 2016

Gazette editorial: Classroom disruption

State Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano issued an important warning just before the start of the legislative session: Continual efforts to repeal state education standards are disrupting the state’s classrooms.

“We can’t continue to have this disruption every year,” Martirano said to reporters at the Associated Press Legislative Lookahead event on Jan. 8.

Last year, lawmakers threatened to repeal the state’s...

January 21, 2016

Senate passes right to work as emotions run high
By Jeff Jenkins, MetroNews

With the gallery packed with union members, the state Senate approved the controversial right to work bill along party lines following a debate that lasted for more than an hour Thursday.

The measure, called the Workplace Freedom Act, would make it illegal to connect a workers’ employment to union membership or require dues and fees connected with a union.

Opponents of the...