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WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - Minority House Finance Chairman - 03.02.15

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Wednesday March 04 is day 50 of the session.  It also is the last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. This deadline does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills.  With only two weeks remaining in the session, the activity level will pick up beyond the already frantic pace.

If you’re like me and the majority of West Virginians, before you would make a major purchase – let’s use a car, for an example – you would evaluate your current vehicle; determine if it was more cost effective to fix your current vehicle; and, if you decided to purchase another car, find out the price so you would know if the cost fit into your budget.  It would be irresponsible to make the transaction without getting the facts, including the price.

Yet, in this somewhat bizarre legislative session, that is exactly what happened Saturday, when the House voted to roll back and eliminate the much maligned Common Core education standards without the benefit of knowing what it will cost.

Now, let me say up front, that many aspects of Common Core give me and others cause for great concern.  The math component standards are most problematic, especially to many parents that have difficulty in helping with homework.  Eliminating these standards and replacing them may well be the way to go.  And, the bill passed the House on Saturday night.  It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The distressing part is that this moved at light speed through the House Education Committee, despite warnings from the State Department of Education and educators from around the state that scrapping these standards could cost West Virginia taxpayers millions (possibly hundreds of millions) in lost education matching funds.  In spite of those warnings, the current House leadership refused on multiple occasions to second reference this education bill (standard operating procedure) to House Finance to evaluate the costs and ascertain if it was fiscally responsible to throw out current standards without having developed new standards and having them in place.  In nineteen years in the Legislature, I’ve never witnessed such willful refusal to ascertain what a bill will cost taxpayers.  Many members from across the political aisle agreed but felt pressured to move the bill quickly.

In recent days, I received several emails that talked about Common Core standards and a few of those messages made them out to be something they’re not.  First, they are standards or benchmarks.  For instance, what a particular student in a grade level should be able to achieve at that grade level.  It does not dictate any curriculum or mandate any textbook (that’s up to local school boards), or rewrite history. 

But I am open to concerns that have been raised and willing to address them.  However, I believe to blindly throw these out without having a single plan in place to replace these standards or to measure student achievement is a path to fiscal irresponsibility that could stick county school systems with a huge price tag that is ultimately paid for by taxpayers.  Now that the bill passed the House, I hope the Senate exercises fiscal responsibility to second reference the bill to their Finance Committee for evaluation.  I look forward to getting some real facts about costs so an informed decision can be made that takes into account all aspects of this issue.  Then when the bill comes back to the House for a vote, I can make an informed decision.

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 – 02.27.15

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Keeping our Students Safe

No student on a college campus should live in fear of being attacked or feel as though they cannot report sexual assault incidents. That is why I joined with 11 other senators to introduce the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. This legislation will protect students and professionalize the response and reporting of sexual assault.  Earlier this month, West Virginia University launched a campaign called ‘It’s On Us’ to prevent sexual assault and change campus culture among its students, faculty and staff. The response to that program has been overwhelming. The WVU campaign complements ‘Living the Green Dot,‘ a national campus-based campaign against all interpersonal violence.


Having volunteered at a rape crisis center on a college campus, I have seen firsthand the toll this terrible crime takes on our students and their friends and loved ones. I am proud to join this bipartisan coalition and take clear steps to help those in West Virginia and around the country affected by sexual assault, to educate campus personnel to respond compassionately and to strengthen law enforcement response.


Keystone Fight Not Over

President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act was very discouraging, especially in light of the train derailment in Fayette County. The recent crash illustrates why pipelines are a viable and safe alternative to ship our energy resources. Later this month, the State Department is expected to release its final report on the Keystone XL pipeline, and the president will have the chance to reconsider this needed project.

If President Obama is serious about standing up for America’s middle-class families and jobs, I urge him to reverse course, approve this critical, bipartisan project and get behind a more responsible energy policy.


West Virginians in DC

It is always great to meet with constituents who are visiting our nation’s capitol. Below are several photos from recent meetings with West Virginians.

      •  Senator Capito with cadets from Civil Air Patrol’s West Virginia Wing

      •  Senator Capito greets cadets from Civil Air Patrol’s West Virginia Wing

      •  The West Virginia Farm Bureau meets with Senator Capito in Washington

      •  Senator Capito and West Virginia Secretary of Veterans Assistance Rick Thompson

      •  Senator Capito meeting with West Virginia Members of the American Legion

      •  Senator Capito and West Virginia Disabled American Veterans members
                                                        The Gilmer Free Press

Lost in a Whiteout

Back in 1992, my family and I vacationed in North Dakota. One of the highlights was encountering local folk singer Chuck Suchy. His music celebrates rural life, farms, prairies and people.

One of Suchy’s songs, “The Story of Hazel Miner,” is the tale of a 15-year old girl who gets lost in her horse-drawn sleigh when a blizzard closes school at noon. At nightfall, she stops and drapes her body over her younger brother and sister to wait out the storm. When searchers found the sleigh the next day, Hazel was dead, but her siblings survived.

It’s a terrifyingly beautiful song, and my daughter Nora, who was eight at the time, still says it scarred her for life. But it’s a good lesson to have learned because whiteouts can be deadly.

I was reminded of this last Saturday as the wind picked up and temperatures plunged. The severe conditions arrived just as the weather forecasters had predicted. It was mid afternoon, and I needed to put the car in the garage. I knew conditions would only worsen over time, so I headed out to the car.

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The garage is 150 feet from the house, so I really didn’t expect the deteriorating weather to be a problem. I walked out to the car, which was parked about 30 feet from the house; that left only 120 feet to the garage.

I opened the back door to get my gloves, and in literally five seconds, the wind turned from stiff to ferocious. Suddenly, tree branches were blowing across the yard, and the roof on a nearby shed began pulsating up and down.

I jumped into the front seat of the car to protect myself from flying debris. The car rocked back and forth, and I realized that the blowing snow had created a total whiteout. I could no longer see the garage. In fact, I couldn’t even see the front of the hood of the car.

I waited for a few minutes hoping the wind would subside, but it did not. So I blindly inched the car down the driveway. If I kept the steering wheel perfectly straight, I thought I could find the garage. Finally after about two minutes, the building came into view. Unfortunately I was directly in front of the center column between the garage doors. So I backed up and corrected my mistake.

At this point, the whiteout continued, but I had to get out of the car to open the garage door. I couldn’t even see my outreached gloved hand.

Finally, I managed to park the car. Now I had to walk back to the house. The wind continued to roar, and the blowing snow stung my face. I should have waited out the storm in the garage, but it had become a challenge to see if I could make it back. After all, I was just in my driveway.

As I began the 150-foot hike, I still couldn’t see more than two feet in front of me. And I couldn’t lift my head because the temperature had fallen from 20 to 10 degrees, and the blowing snow continued to sting my face.

So with my head down watching my feet, I advanced slowly one small step at a time. After a few minutes, I felt the wind ease a bit; I looked up and there was the house. I had made it.

Unbeknownst to me, my wife had been watching the whole time, at least, while I was visible. Relieved that I made it back, she laughed and said, “As you staggered into view, you looked drunk as a skunk.”

Sometimes, danger lurks close to home. If you get caught in a whiteout anywhere, getting lost and disoriented is a real possibility. Better to be safe than end up like Hazel Miner.

Hunters, hikers, birders, travelers, snowmobilers and skiers should beware sudden changes in winter weather. Be sure your cell phone is charged, and be certain someone knows where you are going and when you expect to return. And if you’re in a vehicle, get safely off the road and wait for the storm to subside.

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

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - The True Religion of the Islamic State

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Does it matter what we call things?

Shakespeare told us in Romeo and Juliet that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

But the Bard wasn’t trying to figure out how to fight back against the existential threat of the Islamic State without inflaming the rest of the Muslim world.

To that end, President Obama has chosen his words carefully when describing ISIS, too carefully his critics have charged.  “And we are not at war with Islam,” the President said last week during his summit on violent extremism.  “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

It’s a safe and perhaps diplomatically judicial line, but it’s not necessarily accurate.

A comprehensive and thought-provoking piece by Graeme Wood in the March issue of The Atlantic peels away the politically correct generalizations about the Islamic State in an attempt to clarify what it is and what it wants.  Read Story H E R E.

“The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic.  Very Islamic,” Wood writes.  “Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.”

The Islamic State’s principles are rooted in 7th century Islam and its followers are “faithfully reproducing its norms of war,” including punishing apostates (anyone who doesn’t abide by their beliefs, including most other Muslims) by crucifixions and beheadings, and enslaving their conquered enemies, including women and children.

Wood says the Islamic State also has a faith-based view of the apocalypse.  “The armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with the anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest,” writes Wood.  (Apparently “Rome” can mean the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire, the United States or any non-believers.)

ISIS has succeeded in one important way that al-Qaeda failed; it has established a geographic foothold.  The Islamic State covers an area of Syria and Iraq about the size of England, complete with a governing bureaucracy that’s divided into civil and military units.

Osama bin Laden seeded terror to try to, among other things, drive the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia, while the Islamic State is building a Koran-inspired caliphate, a gathering place for Muslims who believe the end-of-days prophecy is at hand.  As such, Wood writes, the Islamic State carries religious and intellectual appeal for other Muslims.

“That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent,” says Wood.  “It’s ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model.”

In the end, it may not matter much what President Obama, or anyone else, calls it.  What’s more important is what the Islamic State believes that it is—a growing movement of Islamist holy warriors–and how it presents itself to the world.

When we accept that, we’ll begin to understand the seriousness of the threat.

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