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The McKinley Capitol Report: 02.20.15

The Gilmer Free Press

Busy Week in the First District

Today I met with State Legislators in Charleston to discuss issues concerning education, transportation, and over burdensome regulations from the EPA. We were able to discuss the issues facing West Virginia and determine how we can work together.

During the district work period I traveled all over the first district to meet with a number of constituents. In Parkersburg I met with a number of senior citizens to discuss issues that concern them. In the First District I often hold roundtable meetings on various subjects to share what is happening in Washington and to hear your concerns. These meetings provide a great opportunity for me to learn how I can better serve you.


Visiting the Preston County Sheltered Workshop

On Thursday, I paid a visit to the Preston County Sheltered Workshop, which provides sheltered employment and services to persons with disabilities who are unable to secure or retain viable employment.  The Workshop’s goal is to train and place individuals with disabilities into a job in the competitive workforce.  It was a pleasure to interact with staff and employees and see the important work this organization is doing.

People with disabilities have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else and want to lead fulfilling lives.  They want to be independent and achieve their full potential, whether it’s pursuing an education or finding a good job.  Congress can and should do more legislatively to make it easier for businesses to provide employment opportunities for those disabilities, whether that is thru tax incentives or other policies.  As the grandfather of a child with special needs, and someone with a severe hearing disability, I am personally aware of the challenges millions of Americans with disabilities and their families face.  As a Member of Congress, I am proud and humbled to be a voice for others who often aren’t able to speak for themselves.


Mountaineers Update

The Mountaineers finished off Monday night with a big win over Kansas. The crowd at the Coliseum certainly helped push the Mountaineers to a close 62-61 victory over the No. 8 Jayhawks. Juwan Staten was able to pull off a quick step layup and give WVU the final lead in the remaining seconds.

This was a big win for the Mountaineers, who seem to have gotten a bit of their groove back. We’ve now made it past twenty wins this season and look set to break into the top twenty. Tomorrow we travel to face No. 22 Oklahoma State. I expect only the best from our boys on the road and look forward to seeing another exciting conference game.


Fun Time with Family

It may have been a busy week in the First District, but I had a great time over the weekend playing Spike Ball with my grandkids.

If you are ever in the Washington D.C. office please drop in and say hello. If you want an appointment just give my office a call at 202.225.4172, or submit a request on my website at www.mckinley.house.gov.
                                          The Gilmer Free Press

WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - House Finance Chairman - 02.23.15

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Coming home Friday after a week at the Capitol, I didn’t expect to end up at Urgent Care Sunday morning, but apparently for the first time since 1980, I’ve got a full-blown case of the flu.  I’m hoping to get over this in the next couple days.

The flu is dangerous.  We’re not talking about a cold or allergies.  I’m in good health and it has hit me pretty hard.  If you suspect you have the flu, avoid crowds where you can pass it on to others and seek medical treatment.  Thousands die each year from flu complications, so don’t take any chances.

Work continues at the Capitol as we near the deadline to introduce bills in the House and Senate.  The House of Delegates has introduced 880 bills as of 6 p.m. Friday, February 20th while the Senate has introduced 540. The House has passed 65 of their bills and the Senate has passed 72 and there has been 23 bills complete legislative action.

Some bills passed in the House this week include:

House Bill 2157, which concerns absentee voter ballots. It makes the crime of committing fraud on voter ballots into a felony. Any person who obtains, removes, or disseminates an absentee voter’s ballot, intimidates an absent voter, or completes or alters an absentee voters ballot will be held guilty of the crime. Penalties include a jail sentence of 1 to 5 years, a fine of $10,000 to $20,000, or a combination of those two.

House Bill 2391, which would authorize the state board to annually grant a waiver to a county board to implement a full day early education childhood program that has four days instead of five days. This would allow the fifth day to then be used for staff to work on program delivery to improve student learning. The request for a waiver must have the support of a majority of the participating families. The current statute requires the programs to be available full day, five days per week. The bill also imposes minimum instructional hours per week and minimum instructional days per year.

House Bill 2527, also known as “Erin Merryn’s Law”, would establish a Task Force on the Sexual Abuse of Children. The bill designates who will become a member of the task force as well as lays out a process for the selection of presiding members. It also lays out the duties of the task force which include gathering information on sexual abuse of children, creating state and county goals for prevention of abuse, and making recommendations to the state and county governments for implementation of the goals. The bill also requires the task force to consult with appropriate government agencies when appropriate to gather information on implementation of goals.

House Bill 2098, which would authorize health care professionals providing services to federal veteran’s affairs facilities in the state without having to obtain a license from the state licensing board. Those who already have the ability to practice in federal facilities would be able to practice at the state’s veteran’s affairs facilities without having to obtain a different license. The bill aims to allow swifter care and cut down bureaucracy.

House Bill 2100, wh ich creates the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act. This would allow hospital patients to designate a lay caregiver to provide aftercare assistance in the patient’s residence. The bill aims to give more patient choice in their aftercare providers by helping them select workers they are more familiar with and caregivers that know their patients’ medical situation.

House Bill 2535 relates to suicide prevention training. The bill aims to expand the number of people who are trained in suicide prevention in order to maximize the possibility that at risk children and adults can be saved. The bill will mandate that school care personnel from the middle school to college level are trained in suicide prevention and provide that literature on the subject is handed out to children and young adults. It will also provide that discussion about preventing suicide occurs and that mental health information is readily available. All licensed medical professionals will be required to obtain suicide prevention training as part of their training.

House Bill 2646, which would legalize and regulate the sale of Class 3 fireworks. This would allow these type of fireworks to be commercially bought and sold with regulations administered to the purchases of these fireworks, with proceeds going to veterans programs, volunteer fire departments and the State Fire Marshall’s office to administer.

Finally, Happy Birthday wishes to Jean.  Fortunately we were able to celebrate briefly with Justin, Jen and the twins Friday evening.  Meanwhile, she’s taking good care of me until the flu symptoms subside.

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.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito –  02.20.15

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One of the reasons I’m proud to be a West Virginian is because we always look out for one another. That was especially true in Fayette County this week when we came together to assist friends and neighbors in need following the terrible train derailment in Fayette County on Monday.

My staff and I have been in constant contact with federal, state and local officials, as well as CSX, to ensure the safety and well-being of those impacted. I offer my sincerest thanks to the emergency responders who kept nearby residents safe, and I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the steady flow of information and resources for those impacted.

This week, I visited the site of the train derailment and received a briefing from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Robert P. Hill and representatives from the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

As with most accidents, this train derailment prompts a renewed conversation about how to keep our communities safe. Once the cause is determined, we must carefully consider viable options for preventing this from happening again.

I will remain in contact with federal, state and local officials to ensure a full and speedy recovery.
                                                        The Gilmer Free Press

Winter Gulls

Harsh winters, meaning those with bone chilling temperatures and serious amounts of snow, such as last year and this year, bring the same question on an almost daily basis — why do I see “sea gulls” at the mall, at fast food restaurants and at garbage dumpsters?

The answer is weather related, but first let’s address the term “sea gull.” Everyone who has ever been to a coastal beach knows what it means, but “sea gulls” are not limited to seashores. In fact, Franklin’s gulls nest on the prairies of the northern Great Plains. Bonaparte’s gulls nest on the edges of the boreal forest in Canada and Alaska. And California gulls nest near lakes throughout the west. Among ornithologists and birders, the term “gull” suffices.

Most of the winter gulls seen here in the inland east are ring-billed gulls and herring gulls. Both are common along the Atlantic coast in the summer, but large populations also nest inland on the many islands of the Great Lakes. When winters are mild, they stay near the lakes.

But when polar vortices plunge southward and send us into a prolonged deep freeze, gulls wander south in search of open water. Last year was a classic case. In December 2013 the Great Lakes began icing up, but in mid January, 2014 temperatures plummeted, and the freeze accelerated. By March 06, 2014, the Great Lakes were 92.2% covered by ice. When it gets very cold, ice up can happen quickly.

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It’s happening again this year. According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) on January 06, less than 6% of Lake Erie was frozen. By February 09, more than 90% of Lake Erie and 54% of all the Great Lakes were frozen. Under these conditions, smaller bodies of water near the Great Lakes also freeze.

When this happens, gulls head south in search of open water. During the day they scavenge at landfills, dumpsters, parking lots and anywhere else they can find food. At night, they roost on ice near open water where they are relatively safe from predators.

These evening flocks can be quite impressive and often draw attention from gaggles of birders. In Pittsburgh, for example, thousands and sometimes close to 10,000 gulls gather near the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. Most are ring-billed gulls, many are herring gulls and sharp-eyed birders are always looking for rarities such as glaucous gulls, ivory gulls and greater black-backed gulls. Similar gatherings occur near Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls.

Scanning thousands of birds for one or two individuals can be tedious, but it is always rewarding. That’s what birders do.

So that’s why we see gulls in winter. Ice freezes them out of preferred places, and they head south for open water. In the spring when the ice thaws, the gulls will return north to islands in the Great Lakes and beyond.

The most frequently seen winter gulls are ring-billed gulls. They are about 18 inches long and have a four-foot wingspan. The yellow bill is encircled by a black ring near the tip, hence its name. Other diagnostic features include a white head, yellow legs, yellow eyes, pale gray back and white underparts.

Herring gulls, the other common winter species, resemble ring-bills, but are larger, about 25 inches long with a five-foot wingspan. The bill is yellow, and the lower bill has a red spot near the tip. Also look for the pale gray back, white underparts and pink legs.

In nature, gulls are opportunistic scavengers. They eat fish, carrion, crabs, insects, mollusks, and almost any sort of organic garbage. Larger gulls can be quite predatory. Great black-backed gulls, for example, can swoop down and swallow ducklings and shorebird chicks whole.

If you’re puzzled seeing winter gulls, just look around. It’s probably very cold, you’re probably just a few miles from a lake or river and there’s probably an open trash receptacle nearby.

~~  Dr. Scott Shalaway - 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033 ~~

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