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Key legislation on manufacturing, sports betting, guns on campuses detailed on WV Press InSight

WVPA Staff Report
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Discussions on proposed legislation that would impact manufacturers and economic development in West Virginia — as well as bills that would allowing guns on college campuses, legalize sports betting, consolidation of regional jails, address the needs of caregivers, along with a look at tourism in the state’s Northern Panhandle — are the features on West Virginia Press InSight video program.

Betsy DeBord, Tom Hunter and Corey Zinn look at newspaper coverage of the proposed WV legislation. DeBord gives viewers a look at tourism in the Northern Panhandle.

WV Press InSight, this is episode 6, is a video product of the West Virginia newspaper industry and gives viewers look at the coverage provided by newspapers across the state. The print story and video program are featured in print, on websites and social media platforms of newspapers across the state.
This episode also provides what is now background on the West Virginia teachers’ salary issue and work stoppage. With the WV Legislatures’ intense debate and ultimate approval of a 2-1-1 percent pay raise plan and quick signature of Governor Jim Justice, Insight’s piece on the situation provides background and detail. Earlier released segments also look at WVU’s Festival of Ideas Opioid panel.
WV Manufacturers Association President Rebecca McPhail and Huntington Regional Chamber President Bill Bissett join West Virginia Press InDepth host Don Smith to discuss legislation addressing manufacturing and economic development at the 2018 WV Legislative session.
In other segments:
Sports Betting: The West Virginia Legislature is moving forward on a proposal to legalize sports betting if the United States Supreme Court rules in favor of allowing states to offer it. Joselyn King reports in The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register that the measure could create jobs at the state’s four racetracks and the casino at The Greenbrier Resort.

Delegate Shawn Fluharty, who represents Ohio County, proposed the bill. He says the Lottery Commission would oversee sports betting, as it does other gambling, and the casinos already have the infrastructure in place to handle it.Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns adds the legislation would allow phone apps for betting if people already have players memberships established at a track.

The betting would be taxed at a rate of 10 percent of general gross revenue. One study says that would be an additional $13.4 million in revenue in the first year, potentially growing to nearly $29 million by the fifth year.

Phil Kabler reports in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that one potential issue with the bill is opposition from the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, at least as the law is currently drafted. Those major sports leagues say the bill doesn’t have proper safeguards, doesn’t protect consumers and wouldn’t prohibit players from betting on their own sports.

Those groups have offered to help improve the legislation, and they also recommend a 1 percent “integrity tax” to help them investigate problems and monitor games.

Read more at:

WV universities oppose plan to allow guns on campuses: It seems like every year there is a proposal related to guns before West Virginia lawmakers. This year they’re considering a bill that would allow firearms to be carried on college campuses.

The measure would prohibit colleges or their regulating bodies from creating or enforcing rules that prohibit guns on campus.

The state’s two largest schools – West Virginia University and Marshall University – both oppose the idea. Kyra Biscarner reports in Marshall’s student newspaper, The Parthenon, that President Jerome Gilbert and Student Body President Matt Jarvis both told delegates they oppose the proposal.

President Gilbert says guns on campus will decrease the level of safety and put more people at risk due to accidental or purposeful injury due to firearm use. Jarvis says fear and anxiety resulting if the law passes would be detrimental to the overall well-being of Marshall students.

The Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s student newspaper, wrote an editorial opposing the concept. They noted comments made by Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president of strategic initiatives. Alsop testified at a legislative hearing and says putting additional weapons on campus don’t make it safer. Instead, he says, it makes it easier to escalate a situation.

The DA editorial also notes that drugs and alcohol have a presence in the area, and adding guns to that mix isn’t a good idea.

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House committee advances SNAP work requirement bill: Members of the House of Delegates are considering a bill that would impose work requirements on people receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That’s often referred to as SNAP, or food stamps.

Jake Zuckerman reports in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that the vast majority of speakers at a public hearing opposed the change. It passed at the committee level shortly after the hearing, however.

Zucker reports that the bill in its current form would impose work requirements on many people. That includes able-bodied adults between 18 and 50 who are not disabled, pregnant or responsible for the care of a child. People would be required to work, volunteer or participate in an educational program for 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources currently follows those rules but can issue waivers where the unemployment rate is above 10 percent. Those waivers would be phased out.

The DHHR has been running a pilot program of the legislation in nine counties: Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Monongalia, Morgan and Putnam. In those counties, while the number of SNAP recipients has decreased by about 5,400, employment data did not increase, as some proponents had expected.

Department of Education and The Arts: West Virginia Department of Education and The Arts Secretary Gayle Manchin will soon be unemployed if the Senate follows the House of Delegates’ lead.

The House passed legislation to dissolve the Department and get eliminate the secretary’s position by a vote of 60-36.

The agencies in the department of education will be moved to other state agencies. Only Gayle Manchin’s position and the name of her department will be eliminated.

The plan would place the state’s Educational Broadcasting Authority and State Library Commission television studio under control of the Executive Branch: Governor Jim Justice and his staff and volunteers.


Statewide Jail Consolidation: County leaders say proposed statewide jail consolidation bills are interesting but there afraid it will cost the counties money.

Harrison County Commission President Ron Watson, who attended the annual West Virginia Association of Counties 2018 “Conference of Counties” in Charleston wwith a delegation from his county, said the corrections consolidations bills, House Bill 4338 and Senate Bill 369 in particular, could have a big impact back home.

“That’s a great idea and concept, but at the same time, we want to make sure it’s not going to be more costly for the counties,” Watson said.The main concern for Watson and other county officials is how counties are required to pay the per-diem cost of those arrested, even if they’re picked up by city police or state police.

“Harrison County’s regional jail bill last month was $190,000 and out of that, only about 20 or 25 percent are arrests the county sheriff makes,” he explained. “The others are municipalities, but we have to pay the bill.”

Currently, HB4338 and SB369 continue to languish in both House and Senate committees awaiting passage.


Caregivers in West Virginia:  To recognize their work to support family caregivers in West Virginia, AARP has named West Virginia Senate Health Chairman Sen. Tom Takubo, and Sen. Ron Stollings as national recipients of AARP’s “Capitol Caregivers” award.

The 2017 class of “Capitol Caregivers” honorees is a bipartisan group of 91 state legislators and state officials from more than 30 states who have advanced policies to help family caregivers who are making it possible for older Americans to live independently at home — where they want to be.

West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael, a past recipient of the national award, joined AARP West Virginia state leaders and volunteers to formally recognize the pair during a Feb. 15 event at the State Capitol in Charleston.

Takubo, a Kanawha County Republican, and Stollings, a Democrat representing Boone County, were recognized by the national organization for their leadership in the 2017 passage of legislation that allows registered nurses to practice across state lines.

The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, makes West Virginia one of 29 compact member states and helping to improve access to primary care in the Mountain State.

WVU Today – WVU Festival of Ideas hosted six experts on the state’s opioid crisis in a panel discussion Feb. 20 in the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater as part of West Virginia University’s Festival of Ideas. “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic.” The event was co-sponsored by The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“Instead of looking for experts from far afield, we have brought together some of the people on our campus and in the Gazette-Mail newsroom who have been working diligently to help us understand our substance abuse crisis in West Virginia, and to solve it,” said Dr. Clay B. Marsh, vice president and executive dean for WVU Health Sciences, who will moderate the event.


See the related video:

WV Press InSight’s Betsy DeBord gives viewers a look at tourism in the Northern Panhandle:

“West Virginia is full of wonderful tourism attractions and the “Places to Go” section of the Office of Tourism’s website shows them in 9 travel regions. For the Northern Panhandle, you’ll find the Top 10 Must-See Stops,” DeBord said. “ offers a three-day itinerary for the Northern Panhandle. But the Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in New Cumberland, three days might not be enough time. This year head north for a West Virginia vacation.


1.            West Virginia Independence Hall

2.            Oglebay Resort

3.            Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Center

4.            Grand Vue Park with a zip line canopy tour

5.            Homer Laughlin China Company

6.            Center Wheeling Market

7.            Alexander Campbell Mansion at Bethany College

8.            The World’s Largest Teapot, constructed as a monument to the pottery industry in the area

9.            The Sistersville Ferry that shuffle visitors and their vehicles across the Ohio River

10.        The Wheeling Suspension Bridge – The first bridge of its kind in the world

WV teachers strike:  Unhappy with the West Virginia Legislature’s pay raise plan, the state’s teachers are out of the classroom and on the picket lines.  WV InSight looks at the discussions leading the state to this point.

The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington reported that classes were canceled in Cabell, Wayne, Mason and Lincoln counties Feb. 16, as school employees held a one-day work stoppage to protest changes to health insurance provisions for state workers and salary increases they consider inadequate.

The West Virginia Education Association and American Federation of Teachers’ West Virginia Chapter hosted a rally at the Capitol on Feb. 17, with Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, and Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers’ West Virginia Chapter, announcing the work stoppage.

Governor Jim Justice meet with teachers around the state to discuss the situation.
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