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The Dominion Post
Justice visits Fairmont State University

FAIRMONT, W.Va.  — Gov. Jim Justice gave a dire warning to a Fairmont State University audience March 3.

“What if you awaken tomorrow and the Promise scholarship is just plain gone?” he asked.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, left, is given a champion hat by Maria Rose,president of Fairmont State University and Dr. Johnny M. Moore, president of Pierpoint College at the Falcon Center at Fairmont State University on Thursday.
(Photo by Ron Rittenhouse)

“Or, Fairmont State is just plain gone?”

With the state facing a nearly $500 shortfall for the coming fiscal year and a Constitutional mandate for a balanced budget, deep cuts — including the closing of public institutions of higher learning — may have to be made if lawmakers hit a budget impasse.

Justice, who visited the university as part of his ongoing Save Our State tour, said his current budget proposal could generate millions of dollars, plus 48,000 new jobs, if given the nod.

W.Va. Women’s Commission cut
CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — The House of Delegates spent nearly an hour debating a bill to terminate the state Women’s Commission. It took another hour debating a proposed amendment to a bill dealing with standardized tests at private schools.

HB 2646 would terminate the Women’s Commission as of June 30, 2018. It is sponsored by eight of the 13 female GOP members.

The bill passed 58-41 along party lines, with a few Republicans crossing the aisle, and the lone Independent voting with the majority. All the female Republicans voted yes. The two female Democrats voted no.


House OKs bills on drug trafficking
CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — The House of Delegates approved a pair of bills March 2 to fight drug trafficking and sent them to the Senate.

HB 2329 creates enhanced penalties for the manufacture and transport of fentanyl, or possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver.

HB 2329 passed 95-3. All local delegates voted for it. Delegates Cindy Frich, R-Monongalia, and Guy Ward, R-Marion, are co-sponsors.

HB 2620 is called the Drug Overdose Monitoring Act, based on its original version, but it was expanded into a broader data gathering tool.

Lead sponsor Frich said, “This will really help us fight this war on drugs.”

HB 2620 passed 97-1. All local delegates voted for it.

See more from The Dominion Post


The State Journal

Senate health committee moves bill to ban smoking in cars with children present

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Senate committee on health and human resources approved a bill Thursday, March 2 that would make it a crime to smoke in a car with children present.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 193, would make it a misdemeanor for an adult to smoke in a car if there were children under the age of 16 in the same vehicle. The bill would make smoking in a car a secondary offense, meaning police would have to pull a driver over for another reason before being able to charge an adult with the offense.

Georgia just passed a similar law, committee members were told.

The original bill set the penalty for smoking in a car with children as a fine of $110 to $250. Committee members approved an amendment to the bill making the fine $25, the same as other secondary crimes like not wearing a seatbelt.

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, also wanted to know whether a parent caught smoking in a car with four children present would be guilty of one count or four. Palumbo offered a second amendment clarifying that each incident of smoking in a car would count as a single offense no matter how many children were present.

That amendment also was approved.

The health committee passed the legislation on a close voice vote. It will now go to the judiciary committee.


House of Delegates votes to eliminate West Virginia Women’s Commission

The West Virginia House of Delegates put the first state agency on the chopping block Thursday, March 2 in its efforts to address a projected $450 million budget deficit. The body voted to eliminate the West Virginia Women’s Commission.

If approved by the state Senate, eliminating the agency would save the state about $150,000 a year.

Delegate Lynn Arvon, R-Raleigh, vice chairman of the House committee on government organization and one of the sponsors of the bill, said the commission was no longer necessary, and that its functions are available through other state agencies and organizations. The Women’s Commission was formed in the 1970s as a kind of clearinghouse for information and referral services related to women’s issues.

The bill that would do away with the commission, House Bill 2646, “Simply eliminates an agency that is largely duplicative,” Arvon said.

Arvon assured fellow delegates that neither she nor other state officials would allow women’s issues to “fall through the cracks” if the agency were eliminated.

But Delegate Michael Ferro, D-Marshall, argued that doing away with the agency sent a bad message to women in the state. Ferro said the bill appeared to be “a personal affront to women.”

Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-Marion, agreed with Arvon that women could find help through agencies besides the Women’s Commission, but said none of those agencies is geared specifically to help women.

According to the organization’s mission statement, “The West Virginia Women’s Commission exists to foster women’s health and wellness including economic, educational, political and social development. We do this through advocacy, research, education, collaboration and recognition.”

But, if that’s the case, Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, said the commission has largely failed its mission.

Delegate Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, lead sponsor of the bill, said the majority of those who sponsored the bill were women. Kessinger said the agency wasn’t needed, and doubted that the majority of women in the state even know the Women’s Commission exists.

House members voted 58-41 to eliminate the agency.

See more from The State Journal




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