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WV Capitol Comments - Delegate Roger Hanshaw - 01.26.15

The Gilmer Free Press

The second week of the 2015 session of the West Virginia Legislature wrapped up last week, and several people from across our District were on hand to see it.  On Friday, January 23, 2015, people representing various groups, organizations, businesses, and other causes from around our District were on hand at the State Capitol for a showcase of the counties in House District 33 – Calhoun, Clay, and Gilmer Counties.  One of the most important parts of achieving a goal is seeking out partners and others who can provide the kind of support and assistance necessary to make things happen.  Jumpstarting economic activity across our District is the primary goal we all share, and activities like our showcase on January 23 are necessary in order to make others across West Virginia and in state government aware of what our needs are, and how successful we can be when we have resources with which to work.  I am happy so many folks came to Charleston to participate.  The planning process for our 2016 Legislative Day will begin shortly.

The work of the Legislature this year remains focused primarily on taking steps to improve the business climate in West Virginia.  These efforts include certain reforms to the state’s legal climate, adjustments to bring certain environmental regulations more in line with neighboring states, and elimination of various state regulations that have been found to be unnecessary and burdensome to West Virginia’s small business owners.

Of particular attention to our District is the “Tank Bill” adopted last year.  The Tank Bill has caused many smaller oil and gas companies in central West Virginia considerable hardship, and some oil and gas operators have stated publically that they intend to lay off employees and idle operations because the cost of compliance with the Tank Bill exceeds the profits they make from operating the wells.  For the counties in our District, this is unacceptable.  Smaller oil and gas producers are major employers in our District, and reforms to the Tank Bill are necessary.  This week we will introduce at least two proposals to modify this bill so that smaller businesses that pose no threat to the public water supply can continue to stay in business.  I welcome your thoughts and comments on how best to achieve those goals.

Citizens from around our District have contacted me over the past several days to raise concerns about roads, volunteer fire departments, and issues related to local control of education.  The ideas and recommendations I have received are very helpful, and I will be incorporating many of them into proposals for the House to consider beginning later this week.  Our volunteer fire departments are critically important to the rural communities of Calhoun, Clay, and Gilmer Counties, and we must make sure the training obligations and other requirements imposed by the state on these departments do not prevent their continued operation.  With other Delegates from rural counties across West Virginia, I have been preparing a proposal to address the needs that local fire fighters have shared with me.  These volunteers are vitally important to our communities, and we have no choice but to guarantee that they continue thrive.

The doors of the State Capitol are open to every citizen of our State, and I would be delighted to have you visit during this year’s legislative session.  If you find yourself in Charleston, please feel free to stop by.  Sharing your thoughts and ideas is an important part of making sure the concerns of our District are heard.  I hope you will take that opportunity.  I can be reached in Room 229E at the State Capitol, or at 304.340-.3135 or at .  I look forward to seeing you when you visit our Capitol.

Have a great week.

Roger

Charlie Hebdo, Terrorism, and the Problem with Rights Talk

The Gilmer Free Press


I know this piece comes in the midst of great trauma and global challenges that are deeply emotionally charged. But I see great value in offering another perspective on the Charlie Hebdo publications and subsequent attack, as I feel as though to date the conversation has been entirely binary. Either you are for free speech and support Charlie Hebdo or you are, in the U.S and the Western world, for terrorism. That is a false binary, and one that I believe contributes to the problem. I think there is a vast place between the two that can help us move toward a more peaceful coexistence with people who value freedom of speech and those who care deeply about freedom of religion. Although I do not agree 100 percent with what Pope Francis said about the issue, I do think his perspective has a lot to offer.

I agree that verbal provocation is no excuse for violence, as the Pope clearly said. But I also see how some like Polly Toynbee in The Guardian can argue that the Pope’s comments were akin to a “wife beater defence.” However, another way of looking at the issue is that the folks at Charlie Hebdo are little more than bullies. It is obvious that continual harassment about an issue on which people are terrifically sensitive will not be well-received. In this case, the victims of the harassment are billions of people—it is all those who follow Islam’s dictates that it is blasphemy to denigrate Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. This is what the Pope said…not that violence is justified, just that it shouldn’t surprise us, either, as it was intended to incite and disrupt.

I am not saying we should never critique unfair policies or practices. In fact, we probably need to do even more of that without suffering repercussions, as is Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Bedawi, who has been lashed for his secular commentary. Satire and political cartoons can be an incredibly useful tool for raising awareness about various atrocities. But I have a hard time seeing how provocative images of who an estimated two billion people believe is their savior does anything to question policies, to shine a light on injustices, or to move the world in a better direction.

Poke fun at dictators? OK. Of politicians who make promises then repeatedly renege? OK. At pompous messengers of “religious doctrine” who themselves violate the very tenets they profess? OK. But of the actual deities, I feel less confident. For instance, while I see the merit in satirizing the priests who allowed decades of abuse to be swept under the rug or the alleged followers of Islam who terrorize children in the name of their religion, I have a harder time seeing anything but bullying when it comes to attacking Jesus, God, Allah, Buddha, or other deities themselves. In the U.S, we pass laws prohibiting bullying. We train educators about it so that they can disrupt the behavior. The White House has weighed in on the issue and issued reprimands to schools and universities who fail to disrupt bullying behavior. Yet here, when journalists pick and poke at the most holiest of holies, they couch their behavior in “rights language.”

At least in the United States, journalistic enterprises have the “right” to poke fun at religious leaders and doctrine in the name of free speech. But I think what the Pope means is that perhaps we shouldn’t be looking at this as a rights issue at all. Perhaps it is, quite simply, mean to do what Charlie Hebdo repeatedly does and that, instead of an even greater divide between adherents to Islam and those who defend free speech, we should be looking for ways in which people can come together. Many scholars have argued that “rights talk” limits the dialogue or simply results in opposing sides trenching deeper into their positions. Harvard Law Professor and author of Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse Mary Ann Glendon argues that “A penchant for absolute formulations (“I have the right to do whatever I want with my property”) promotes unrealistic expectations and ignores both social costs and the rights of others.”

So, what next? I’d like to see an international dialogue that addresses the complexities of the issue, not just the surface opposition of freedom of speech versus freedom of religion. I’d like us to move to a place where we understand that, while we technically have the right to say or write something, we should exercise better judgment unless we can truly support the fact that our efforts will result in something better. I remain hopeful that others will view the issue similarly. I remain hopeful that, rather than dig deeper into their defenses, the many people with diverse perspectives on this issue will choose to consider another option.

~~  Laura Finley, Ph.D.  ~~

Ron Paul: Education is Too Important Not to Leave to the Marketplace

The Gilmer Free Press

This week, events around the country will highlight the importance of parental control of education as part of National School Choice Week. This year’s events should attract more attention than prior years because of the growing rebellion against centralized education sparked by the federal Common Core curriculum.

The movement against Common Core has the potential to change American education. However, anti-Common Core activists must not be misled by politicians promoting “reforms” of the federal education bureaucracy, or legislation ending Common Core while leaving all other federal education programs intact. The only way to protect American children from future Common Core-like programs is to permanently padlock the Department of Education.

Federal programs providing taxpayer funds to public schools give politicians and bureaucrats leverage to impose federal mandates on schools. So as long as federal education programs exist, school children will be used as guinea pigs for federal bureaucrats who think they are capable of creating a curriculum suitable for every child in the country.

Supporters of federal education mandates say they are necessary to hold schools “accountable.” Of course schools should be accountable, but accountable to whom?

Several studies, as well as common sense, show that greater parental control of education improves education quality. In contrast, bureaucratic control of education lowers education quality. Therefore, the key to improving education is to make schools accountable to parents, not bureaucrats.

The key to restoring parental control is giving parents control of the education dollar. If parents control the education dollar, school officials will strive to meet the parents’ demand that their children receive a quality education. If the federal government controls the education dollar, schools will bow to the demands of Congress and the Department of Education.

So if Congress was serious about improving education it would shut down the Department of Education. It would also shut down all other unconstitutional bureaucracies, end our interventionist foreign policy, and reform monetary policy so parents would have the resources to provide their children with an education that fits their children’s unique needs. Federal and state lawmakers must also repeal any laws that limit the education alternatives parents can choose for their children. The greater the options parents have and the greater the amount of control they exercise over education, the stronger the education system.

These reforms would allow more parents access to education options such as private or religious schools, and also homeschooling. It would also expand the already growing market in homeschooling curriculums. I know a great deal about the homeschooling curriculum market, as I have my own homeschooling curriculum. The Ron Paul Curriculum provides students with a rigorous program of study in history, economics, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences. It also provides intensive writing instruction and an opportunity for students to operate their own Internet businesses. Of course, my curriculum provides students with an introduction to the ideas of liberty, including Austrian economics. However, we do not sacrifice education quality for ideological indoctrination.

It is no coincidence that as the federal role in education has increased the quality of our education system has declined. Any “reforms” to federal education programs will not fix the fundamental flaw in the centralized model of education. The only way to improve education is to shut down the Department of Education and restore control of education to those with the greatest ability and incentive to choose the type of education that best meets the needs of American children — American parents.

WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - House Finance Chairman - 01.26.15

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First this week, I want to thank everyone for their calls, thoughts and prayers for Jean as she successfully underwent knee replacement surgery last Tuesday.  As with her other knee replacement last year, she is recovering great, and was able to attend church Sunday morning.  Our thanks and appreciation again go out to Dr. Olishirazi, Dr. Wallace and the entire joint replacement team at Cabell Huntington Hospital for their outstanding care.

Following the first full week of the 82nd West Virginia Legislature, the House has introduced 275 bills and the Senate 247 for further discussion in the various committees of reference.  The House has passed three bills in the first week and a half while the Senate has passed four.

The bills passed by their respective houses as of last Friday:

HB 2001 Repealing portions of the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act

HB 2025 Prohibiting certain sex offenders from loitering within one thousand feet of a school or child care facility

HB 2201 Requiring the Public Service Commission to adopt certain net metering and interconnection rules and standards

SB 1 Repealing Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act; creating net metering of customer-generators

SB 3 Relating to real property possessor’s liability for trespasser harm

SB 12 Relating to payment of separated employee’s outstanding wages

SB 280 Allowing well work permit transfers

As mentioned last week, the first bill passed by both houses in the 82nd Legislature was House Bill 2001 and Senate Bill 1.  These “same as” bills seek to repeal the 2009 Alternative Energy Portfolio Act.  The repeal will have virtually no effect on coal jobs.

HB 2201 was the subject of much debate last Friday on the House floor.  The bill deals with net metering and preserves the ability of those individuals, businesses, churches and other entities that have invested in solar generation equipment to continue with net metering policies with power companies.  The bill passed unanimously, but lengthy debate ensued over an amendment that, I believe, is already covered in Public Service Commission policies.

Another bill passed by the House would prohibit certain types of sex offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of a school or a day care center.  House Bill 2025 also defines loitering as “lingering or idling in a place where an individual does not have a particular lawful purpose.”

Last Thursday, Governor Tomblin held a grant award ceremony in his office.  While I was unable to attend, as it was at the same hour that Jean was being released from the hospital, we were able to secure the additional $1.325 million dollars for the Burnsville PSD – Orlando – Rt. 5 waterline extension project.  This is a critical infrastructure improvement that has been in the works for several years and will provide additional customers for the PSC and a safe, dependable water source, including fire protection to the area.

Infrastructure work never stops and I’ll continue to work with my legislative colleagues to provide more opportunities for expansion projects in Braxton and Gilmer Counties.

Finally, budget hearings continue this week and conclude in mid-February.  Of the several hearings held last week, the Bureau of Senior Services proposed budget by the Administration gives me considerable concern.  In the presentation, it was mentioned that an additional $1 million was being moved from a line item to add funding to the Aged and Disabled Waiver program.

However, on closer examination of the presentation, the move of funds will actually not increase the budget for the program.  When we have the DHHR budget hearing, I have requested the Bureau of Senior Services to be present so between the two agencies, we can get some accurate information.

As always, I will work alongside my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to build a brighter West Virginia. I have always, and will continue to, put people ahead of partisanship and support what is best for all.

Send your inquiries to the Capitol Office at:  Building 1, Room 462-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  Or, call Nancy Butcher in the Finance Committee office at 304.340.3230; or fax to 304.340.3388.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my e-mail address is: .

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

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