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WV Legislative Update

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First this week, I want to correct some information from last week’s column regarding Governor Justice’s SAFETY WITH ACTION TODAY (SWAT) road reporting program for citizens with highway concerns.  The number provided to report by telephone was incorrect last week.  The correct number per the Governor’s press release is: 1-833-WV-ROADS.

Also, this is the first full week of school, so please exercise special caution when driving, as kids will be out and about at bus stops, school crossings and just about anywhere at any time.  And, please observe stopped school buses while kids are entering and exiting the vehicle.  Slowing down and watching out for our kids can spare you, kids, families, our communities and state from needless tragedies.

Last week was a time I’ve been looking forward to for several years.  Earlier in the summer, all the grandkids came for an extended visit.  However, Collin is five years older than his brother, Gavin and has wanted to come to WV for a visit on his own so we could spend some time.  This year, Jessica felt confident in allowing him to travel by air unattended, as he’s flown and traveled with family many times.  Despite airport delays in Atlanta, he had a great trip in both directions.  In the week he was here, we worked hard, fished, kayaked and thoroughly enjoyed his time in WV.  It was hard to see him leave last Saturday, but his first day of school began this Monday.

Braxton County Memorial Hospital has been blessed with a wealth of outstanding healthcare professionals throughout the years.  Last week, BCMH recognized and honored three outstanding hospital and healthcare professionals – Sue Stalnaker, RN; Ben Vincent, Administrator; and Dr. Jose Bordonada.

I’ve been blessed to know Sue, Ben and Joe for many years and each has had a profound positive influence on our hospital, Braxton County, and throughout our communities.  On a personal note, each one has been very special to me, Jean and out family over the years.

While Joe and Ben were honored posthumously, their service and Sue’s service are legacies that will endure.  Thanks to BCMH, Dr. Pierson, Cynthia Vincent, and Board President Barbara Adams for spearheading this well-deserved recognition for Sue, Ben and Joe as they provided decades of cumulative service to BCMH and thousands of patients and families that entered the doors of BCMH and received quality healthcare, compassion and service.

Major projects through DOH often are years in the planning stages and even then, many factors come into play before construction actually begins.  Such is the case with the upcoming replacement of the upper Gassaway Bridge that crosses Elk River on Rt. 4.  We successfully replaced the dilapidated and dangerous lower Gassaway Bridge several years ago, but the upper bridge is deemed structurally deficient and must be replaced.  With the aging infrastructure across our nation and state, we need to seize every opportunity in central West Virginia to upgrade and improve access for our residents, businesses and emergency services.

On Thursday September 6, DOH will hold an informational public meeting at the Gassaway Community Building.  The meeting will be from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, to provide the opportunity to review and comment on the available options for new bridge placement.  Written comments can also be submitted until October 9 and mailed to:

Mr. R.J. Scites, P.E.
Director of Engineering Division
WV Division of Highways
1334 Smith Street
Charleston, WV 25301

Projected costs for this project are between $3.3 million to $4.5 million, depending on the alternative for alignment that is finally chosen.  While this is a large sum of money, doing nothing could result in a twenty-three mile detour and an annual cost of approximately $11 million annually to motorists if the bridge became unsafe for vehicular use, according to a DOH study.  I urge all interested citizens to stop by during the above referenced hours on September 6 to express you opinions and obtain additional information, including projected start and completion dates, from DOH officials.

Finally, last week the House of Delegates spent sixteen continuous hours spanning two days to complete debate and eventually pass articles of impeachment on the remaining four WV Supreme Court justices.  By mid-week, Justice Robin Davis tendered her resignation, leaving Justices Loughry, Workman and Walker to face the actual impeachment removal trial in the State Senate.  On Monday of this week, the Senate will meet to lay out procedures and preliminary rules to be followed during the trial.  The permanent replacement positons for Justice Ketchum and Justice Davis will appear on the election ballot in November.

After listening to the evidence in the House, some of the articles did not appear to have sufficient documentation to merit a recommendation for removal.  However, out of the fourteen articles returned, I felt each justice had violated at least one or more of the articles, based on maladministration and other factors presented and voted accordingly.

Once again, this is a sad time for our State and the citizens that look to and count on the highest court in the judicial branch of state government for stability and fairness.  The House has made its recommendation.  Now it’s up to the Senate to make the final call on performing its constitutionally mandated obligation for removal or acquittal. 

In the interim between sessions, please send your inquiries to my home office:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624.  My home number is 304,364,8411.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative 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.

Say uncle, Stephen Miller

The Free Press WV

The uncle of the architect of the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies calls his kin a hypocrite because of Miller’s family’s immigrant history.

Learnn More:  Politico

Girl, 11, Hacks Replica of Florida Election Website

The Free Press WV

When the world’s largest hacking conference convened last weekend, organizers hoped to educate people on the risks U.S. voting systems face from cybercriminals.

Then an 11-year-old girl broke through a mock-up of the Florida secretary of state’s website to change a vote count — in less than 10 minutes.

Election officials counter that DEFCON’s simulations don’t include real-world safeguards and damage public trust in their systems.

One of the conference’s Voting Village organizers begged to differ, saying, “It’s only through scrutiny that we’re going to have confidence in elections.”

Read More:  BuzzFeed

FACT CHECK: Trump on black unemployment

The Free Press WV

Donald Trump is taking unjustified credit for recent job gains by black Americans even as he defends himself against claims of racism.

Trump and his administration argue he’s done more to help the economic well-being of minorities than Barack Obama, the country’s first and only black president.

The implication is that Obama struggled to create jobs for his fellow minorities, while Trump has a sterling jobs record.

Trump has also frequently touted that black unemployment is at a record low. But that figure is volatile on a monthly basis. After achieving a record low of 5.9 percent in May, it has since jumped back up to 6.6 percent.

Trump is taking credit he doesn’t deserve for job growth, according to many economists who view the continued growth since the middle of 2009 as the primary explanation for the recent hiring. More important, there are multiple signs that the racial wealth gap is now worsening and the administration appears to have done little, if anything, to specifically address this challenge.

“To identify a single indicator of employment as an indicator of economic health is, at best, incomplete,” said Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics at the New School in New York City. “It is intentionally deceptive to focus only on that indicator.”

Government data show troubling economic disparities for black Americans:

— The median net worth of a black household is just $17,200, according to the Federal Reserve. The median net worth of a white household is 10 times higher. Back in 2004, the median net worth for whites was only seven times higher.

— The homeownership rate for black Americans has fallen since Trump became president to 41.6 percent, according to the Census Bureau. The gap between white homeownership and black homeownership is now the widest since 1995.

— Census figures show the average income for a black college graduate is $64,486, about $13,000 less than what a white college graduate earns.

— The average student debt for someone who is black is $32,047, almost double the average for someone who is white, according to a 2016 study by the Urban Institute.

Hamilton has examined Trump’s $1.5 trillion worth of tax cuts over the next decade. While deficit-financed cuts might boost growth in the near-term, Hamilton found that the changes engineered to the tax code by the administration could worsen the racial wealth gap.

In a report released in May by the liberal Roosevelt Institute, he said the new tax law primarily helps high-income households and rewards people with existing wealth. He said it could increase local fees and fines that are generally a burden on minorities, and the loss of tax revenues could lead to layoffs for public employees, who are disproportionately black.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders initially quoted false job figures on Tuesday to make the case that Trump was helping minorities.

Her statement came as the White House faces heat for Trump’s racially divisive comments about former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman, NFL players, basketball star LeBron James, immigrants and even Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, whose grandfather was born into slavery. Trump’s approval rating with black Americans is a lowly 13 percent, according to the polling firm Gallup.

Sanders initially said Obama had only added 195,000 jobs for black Americans during his tenure compared with Trump’s 700,000 new jobs in just two years. The U.S. economy actually added about 3 million jobs for black workers during Obama’s tenure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But after a cursory apology and correction on Twitter, the administration doubled down on its claims by stripping the jobs figures of one crucial piece of context: Obama inherited an economy in the worst tailspin since the Great Depression began in 1929, while Trump came into office after seven years of economic growth.

Aaron Sojourner, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota and a former senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers for Obama and Trump, said this context was the key difference between the two presidents’ records.

“The administration was born on third base and wants to make us think they hit a triple,” he said.

Manchin’s Mountain Message: Celebrating the WV State Fair

The Free Press WV

Our home state is special for so many reasons - the natural beauty, resources, growing opportunities, our hardworking and hospitable people, and of course, our annual fairs and festivals. When I was younger, I always looked forward to attending fairs and festivals all over the state because it was not only an opportunity to spend time with my family, but I also learned so much more about our state and its people. We do indeed have much to celebrate in the Mountain State, and the State Fair tradition in beautiful Fairlea is certainly one to be proud of.

For 94 years, the State Fair of West Virginia has been a greatly anticipated event for residents as well as people from across the nation and around the world. We know our beautiful state is unique in many ways. From our blend of cultures comes delicious food as well as unique traditions, crafts, art and entertainment. This, coupled with the natural welcoming nature of our citizens, makes the State Fair one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to learn more about this wild and wonderful place we call home as the State Fair showcases our traditions of promoting family values, recreation, agriculture and education. This years theme, Start Your Traditions, embraces the 94th year of our talented and inspiring citizens and businesses coming together to showcase the traditions that make West Virginia great. It is through their hard work and creativity that the State Fair has been an outstanding success for 94 years, and one of our proudest traditions.

Throughout the years, Gayle and I have always enjoyed our many visits to the State Fair. It is a special way for family and friends to come together and create memories that will last for years, and to pass these wonderful traditions on to the next generation. If you have never attended before, or if you have and would like to attend again, I invite you to plan your visit for next year and see for yourself all that the State Fair in our beautiful Mountain State has to offer.

We look forward to seeing you!

Bernie Sanders Is Not Not Running In 2020

When pressed by Stephen Colbert about plans to run for president in 2020,

Senator Bernie Sanders declines to say he is not running.

WV House Democratic Leaders: Justice Loughry Must Resign Immediately

The Free Press WV

Following the action by the House of Delegates to impeach all sitting members of the Supreme Court and the subsequent retirement of Justice Robin Davis, House Democratic leaders again renew their call for Justice Allen Loughry to immediately resign.

“Justice Loughry is the reason that the House of Delegates began to investigate the Supreme Court,” House Minority Whip Mike Caputo (D-Marion) stated.  “Justice Loughry has cast the judiciary branch into turmoil with federal criminal charges and Judicial Investigation Commission charges pending as a result of his illegal use of state resources for personal gain.”

“Justice Loughry has broken the law,” Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) stated.  “Now, he is going to waste even more taxpayer dollars through what could be a lengthy impeachment trial in the Senate, in addition to the federal criminal charges and the Judicial Investigation Commission complaint that he is facing,” Delegate Sponaugle continued.  “There is little doubt that the Senate will impeach Justice Loughry and remove him from office, as his actions were not just unethical, but also illegal,” he added.  “Justice Loughry needs to resign now because West Virginia voters deserve to have a voice in who their elected officials are,” he stated. “Our state’s highest court should not be handed to the Governor who will undoubtedly take a partisan approach to the appointment.”

“West Virginia voters are sick and tired of the waste, fraud and abuse in state government,” Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) stated.  “For once, Justice Loughry should consider the cost to the taxpayers of our beloved state,” he urged. “The State of West Virginia needs to close this chapter of corruption in our court system and move forward to deal with other, more pressing challenges that deserve our attention,” Delegate Pushkin stated.  “It is obvious to anyone who is paying attention that Justice Loughry will be impeached or removed from his office as he is facing a myriad of corruption charges- he should do the right thing and resign today to allow voters to choose a replacement,” he said.

Today is the deadline for a justice to resign from the Supreme Court to allow the position to be chosen by the voters in November- at no additional cost to the taxpayers. “I urge Justice Loughry to step down before the end of the day today to allow our state to choose our next justice,” Minority Whip Caputo stated.  “It is the most honorable thing that Justice Loughry could do in the wake of the corruption scandal that he created.”

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