GilmerFreePress.net

WV Legislative Update

image

The kid in me enjoyed seeing the light snow on the ground when I got up before daylight Sunday morning.  Soon afterwards, looking out the kitchen window the deer in the woods – nearly invisible the day before – now were clearly visible with the snowy background.  From now until spring, I’ll be on defense, guarding the shrubs and greenery around the house from their silent grazing.  Unfortunately, I can expect no help from our dog, Chuck.  The deer have apparently won him over to their side.

In addition to last week’s interim legislative meetings at the Capitol, the Governor called a brief special session while in town to address housekeeping issues surrounding the issuance of road bonds, consistent with the will of the voters in September.  To that end, the Senate and House passed SB 3001, authorizing sale of bonds pursuant to Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017.  The bill was signed by the Governor the same day and effective from passage on December 04, 2017. 

Also, the House and Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 301, declaring that state road bonds in the principal amount not to exceed $800 million are authorized to be sold by the Governor during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.  In the following three years afterwards, bond issuances will be authorized in 2019 for $400 million; $200 million in 2020; and $200 million in 2021.


With the legislative session less than one month away, the legislative calendar for the upcoming session is as follows:

January 10 – First day of session begins at Noon;

      State of the State Address by Governor Justice at 7:00 pm.

January 29 – Legislative rules bills due out of committee (Day 20)

February 13 – Last day to introduce bills in the House of Delegates (Day 35)

February 19 – Last day to introduce bills in the Senate (Day 41)

February 25 – Bills due out of committee in house of origin (Day 47)

February 28 – Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin

March 10 – Last day of regular session (Day 60) ends at midnight.


Congratulations to Gilmer County High School’s Alexandra Garrett and Braxton County High School’s Tayton Stout for being selected by the EQT Foundation as Students of Excellence for 2017.  This is a well-deserved honor for these outstanding senior class members from their respective schools representing central West Virginia.  Again, congratulations on being selected for the prestigious award and accompanying scholarship.

Likewise, congratulations to members of the BCHS Eagle Football team and coaching staff and Gilmer County High School Football team for numerous post season honors.


Class AA LKC All-Conference honors:

Seth Arnold- Player of the Year

Bill Haddox-Coach of the Year

First Team-Tayton Stout, Dustin Barker, Hunter Drake, Heath Cottrill, Chris Truesdale, Brandon Gray

Honorable Mention - Aiden Watson, Kain Napier, Isiah Cumberledge.


Tayton Stout, Seth Arnold and Heath Cottrill were also selected for AA All-State honors.


Class A LKC All-Conference honors:

Gunnar Haley, Jordan Brown, Hunter Self

Honorable Mention – Joey Frame

Congratulations on a great seasons and the well-earned conference recognition.


Finally, I want to thank the Town of Burnsville for the honor of serving as grand marshal for the annual Christmas Parade last Saturday.  The chilly and sunny weather set the holiday tone with the American Legion Honor Guard leading the parade, along with the BCHS Marching Band, floats, groups, with Santa the highlight of the parade for all the kids along the route.  It’s a great annual event and Jean and I appreciate the invitation to attend and participate. 

Please send your inquiries to the Capitol office:  Building 1, Room 258-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  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.

Have A Minute?‏

The Gilmer Free Press

Last week, the Senate took another step toward a major victory for the American people by passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Like the name says, this pro-growth legislation will deliver tax relief for so many families and small businesses and promote job creation in our state and across the country. I was proud to vote for this legislation because I understand the positive impacts it will have for West Virginians like you.

Earlier this week, I delivered a Senate floor speech on how this legislation will help individuals in all income brackets.

Helping Children and Families

As thousands of West Virginians know, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP is critical for working families. I have been a strong champion of the program ever since I helped implement it as a state legislator. In Congress, I have voted many times to fund and expand this critical program.

Creating a #DrugFreeWV

On Tuesday, I had the chance to question leading government health officials on the opioid crisis during an Appropriations Committee oversight hearing. During the hearing, I highlighted legislation I introduced last month that will go a long way in helping states like West Virginia that have been hit harder than others by this epidemic—targeting resources to where they are needed most. I truly believe that if we make our efforts more strategic, we can be more effective in ending this problem.

Sincerely,
The Gilmer Free Press
Shelley Moore Capito
United States Senator

The McKinley Capitol Report

The Gilmer Free Press

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Comes to the Hill

On Thursday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee. Under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA has begun taking steps to undo the significant damage caused by Obama’s regulatory overreach. Under his leadership, they’ve announced plans to withdraw the dangerous power plant regulations and moved to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule. These actions will unleash America’s energy potential, grow our economy and create jobs in rural states like West Virginia. Mr. Pruitt should be applauded for his leadership, and I look forward to seeing the EPA continue implementing its back-to-basics agenda, which focuses on greater collaboration with the states.

House Votes to Send Tax Reform Bill to Conference with the Senate

On Monday, the House voted to send the tax reform legislation to conference with the Senate. Both chambers passed their versions of tax reform, and the differences will be ironed out in conference. Once those differences are resolved, both the House and the Senate will vote on the compromise legislation before sending it to President Trump to be signed into law.


McKinley Hosts Public Forum on Opioids

On Monday, our office hosted a public forum on efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Morgantown. West Virginia is the epicenter of the opioid crisis sweeping the nation. This epidemic is ravaging rural states like ours, which is why we organized this forum. Unfortunately, due to a last-minute change in schedule, we had votes in the House to move towards tax reform, and I was unable to be there in person. My staff gathered constituent feedback so that we can take action in Washington. The key takeaways from the forum are:

  • Rural communities don’t have the resources to apply for the federal grants available to larger cities.
  • There is a shortage in treatment options and space at treatment facilities for those affected by opioid addiction.
  • There needs to be better training for law enforcement on how to handle overdoses and get the addict the necessary treatment. It’s essential that Congress finds solutions to these issues so that rural states, like West Virginia, are able to address this growing epidemic.


House Passes Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

On Wednesday, the House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This bill ensures that our citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights do not end when they cross state lines. This provides certainty to law-abiding gun owners by setting one set of rules nationwide when it comes to concealed carry regulations.

This also included an important fix to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which will ensure that both federal and state authorities are properly and accurately reporting criminals. This will prevent gun violence by criminals who should never have been able to purchase a firearm in the first place.


House Members Meet with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

On Thursday, House Members met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai regarding his proposed roll back of President Obama’s internet regulations. The internet was free and open for 20 years before the Obama Administration imposed their heavy-handed regulations, and this proposed repeal will restore internet freedom. I invite you to click the link below to read Chairman Pai’s op-ed on this issue.

Have a great week,

David McKinley
The Gilmer Free Press

Trump a no-show in fight against opioids

The Free Press WV

The opioid epidemic should command focused attention even from our policy-averse president. It’s America’s worst drug crisis, especially severe in the working-class and rural communities that supported President Donald Trump. Its solution involves spending money, which supposedly doesn’t faze Trump, and tougher actions against drug companies, which he’s vowed to take.

More than 175 Americans die daily from opioid overdoses, according to a presidential commission, far more than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes to car accidents and gun mishaps.

Yet Trump has done nothing but talk since his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, issued a report November 01 filled with dire language and calls to action.

“The time to wait is over,“ it declared. “The time for talk has passed.“

Here’s the record so far:

  • The White House has yet to ask for any new funding for prevention or law-enforcement programs to address the epidemic. To the contrary, Trump has been receptive to proposals by congressional Republicans to slice spending on Medicare and Medicaid, two of the biggest programs for addiction treatment.
  • Trump tapped Rep. Tom Marino, R-Penn., to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The nomination was withdrawn after The Washington Post and CBS News revealed that Marino pushed drug-industry-friendly legislation undermining law-enforcement efforts to crack down on suspicious imports of prescription painkillers.
  • Kellyanne Conway has been named opioid czar to coordinate federal addiction-fighting activities. She is Trump’s political spin person, infamous for rebranding misinformation as “alternative facts.“

The Conway appointment stands in contrast to President Barack Obama’s designation of Ron Klain three years ago to coordinate the global effort to contain an Ebola epidemic.

My dumbest column, in 2014, questioned the Klain appointment. I was covering a Senate race in North Carolina where the Republican candidate, Tom Tillis, was joined by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in blasting Klain as a partisan political operative. I suggested that Obama should give the assignment to Gen. David Petraeus instead of Klain; six months later, Petraeus pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information after he misled federal agents investigating his release of confidential materials to his biographer and mistress.

Klain, who has been chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a top Justice Department official, did a masterful job cutting through bureaucratic red tape and marshaling support for a multibillion-dollar plan to successfully combat the spread of Ebola in Africa and beyond. Conway, by contrast, is a pollster and political operative with little experience or knowledge about the levers of government.

Congressional Democrats have proposed adding $45 billion over 10 years to fight opioid addiction. Neither the White House nor the Republican congressional leadership has given a substantive response.

Trump voters have the most to lose. The state with the highest incidence of opioid-overdose deaths is West Virginia, which Trump carried by 43 points in last year’s election. Overdose deaths are rising fastest in rural counties, where Trump clobbered Hillary Clinton by the historically huge margin of 26 percentage points.

In parading as a populist in the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly attacked the drug industry, which promoted opioid use even after the human costs emerged. His promises to crack down on big pharma disappeared after the election.

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist.

FACT CHECK: Trump off on black homeownership, trade

The Free Press WV

In his Alabama-ish rally, President Donald Trump falsely stated that black homeownership has hit a record high under his stewardship and made the dubious claim that he set Canada’s prime minister straight on the state of trade between the two countries.

Trump spoke Friday night in Pensacola, Florida, across the line from Alabama. The positioning was meant to help Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore win Tuesday’s election without actually having Trump set foot in a race defined by accusations of sexual misconduct against the Republican. Trump looked back on his months in office and overstated his achievements during more than an hour of boasting.

A look at some of his statements:

TRUMP, surveying the crowd: “Look at these guys, ‘blacks for Trump.’ I love you. I love you. By the way, now that you bring it up, black homeownership just hit the highest level it has ever been in the history of our country. Congratulations.”

THE FACTS: Not true or even close.

The U.S. Census finds that the black homeownership rate peaked during 2004, when 49.7 percent of black households owned homes (the rate for all races that year reached 69.2 percent, also a modern record). The black homeownership rate stayed in similar territory until the recession, when it dropped to the mid-40s.

This year: 42.7 percent in the first quarter, 42.3 percent in the second and 42 percent in the third. That’s an uptick from last year but far from a record. Quarterly rates this year for the total U.S. population: 63.6 percent, 63.7 percent and 63.9 percent.

___

TRUMP: “Working with Republicans in Congress we’ve already signed 88 pieces of legislation. We get no credit. They always say, well, President Trump really needs this tax bill because he hasn’t passed any legislation. Well, so far in 10 months we’ve passed more during this period of time than any other president in the history of our country and the second - let’s call runner up - is Harry Truman, was second.”

THE FACTS: Trump’s first-year legislative record pales next to that of a variety of presidents (Franklin Roosevelt, with his New Deal, signed 14 historic laws in his first 100 days). The tax package Trump may soon sign would mark his first major legislative achievement after months of false starts and frustrations on health care and more. His promised infrastructure initiative got sidelined but appears in the offing.

Trump signed a law strengthening accountability at the Veterans Affairs Department, used executive orders to roll back Obama-era regulations and policies and, perhaps most significantly, won confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch. But legislatively, his record is thin, despite having Republican majorities in Congress.

All presidents sign plenty of bills that have little consequence; most don’t make so much of it. Among Trump’s routine signings: naming a Veterans Affairs health clinic in Butler County, Pennsylvania, after Bataan Death March survivor Abie Abraham, appointing a regent at the Smithsonian Institution, naming a federal building and courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, after late Sen. Fred Thompson.

___

TRUMP on a conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about trade: “He said, ‘I’m telling you that Canada has a deficit with the United States.’ I told my people, in front of a lot of people, I said, go out and check - and he was right. Except he forgot two categories - lumber, timber and energy. Other than that, he was right. When you add them altogether we actually have a $17 billion deficit with Canada, right? So, he forgot a couple of categories that he didn’t want to mention.”

THE FACTS: Trump’s accounting is puzzling and at odds with U.S. trade statistics.

Trudeau is right that the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada, according to those numbers.

“Exports were $320.1 billion; imports were $307.6 billion,” says the U.S. trade representative’s office. “The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.”

The U.S. ran a $12.1 billion deficit with Canada in trade on goods. That was offset by a $24.6 billion surplus in trade of services.

Trump may have been ignoring services — half of the equation on trade — but if so his numbers still don’t match his government’s.

___

TRUMP on his critics in Washington: “They will lie and leak and smear because they don’t want to accept the results of an election where we won by a landslide.”

THE FACTS: His win was far from a landslide.

His winning margin in the Electoral College is far closer to the narrowest win in history than to the widest.

The final Electoral College margin was Trump 306, Hillary Clinton 232, for a winning percentage of just under 57 percent. That ranks the 2016 election as the 13th closest of the 58 presidential elections in U.S. history, according to a tally by Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney. Barack Obama won both of his presidential elections with bigger Electoral College margins: 61 percent in 2008 and 62 percent in 2012. Trump’s margin was narrower than all but two of the last 10 presidential elections — those of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

As well, he lost the popular vote to Clinton.

___

TRUMP: “Since the election, we have created more than $5 trillion in new economic wealth just in the stock market alone. We’re not including real estate and other values, $5 trillion.”

THE FACTS: According to the Federal Reserve, household wealth has risen by about $5 trillion since the end of last year, but that figure does include home values. Either way, stock ownership is highly concentrated in the United States, so a rising market is mostly benefiting a limited population. Ten percent of Americans owned 84 percent of the value of U.S. stocks in 2016, according to Edward Wolff, an economist at New York University. Median household wealth is still 34 percent below its 2007, prerecession level, Wolff calculates.

McKinley Praises EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E., (WV-1) questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt during his first appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This hearing follows recent EPA hearings in Charleston, WV, which were the first since the Obama Administration took office in 2009.

“For years I have invited the EPA to come to West Virginia and hear from us, as we have been bearing the burden from their harmful policies. They never accepted my invitations, and rural states like ours were left further behind. It’s about time that bureaucrats in Washington took head of the damage their actions cause,” said McKinley.




“Under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA has begun taking steps to undo the significant damage caused by Obama’s regulatory overreach. Under his leadership, they’ve announced plans to withdraw the dangerous power plant regulations and moved to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule. These actions will unleash America’s energy potential, grow our economy and create jobs in rural states like West Virginia. I applaud Mr. Pruitt for his leadership, and look forward to seeing the EPA continue implementing its back-to-basics agenda, which focuses on greater collaboration with the states,” McKinley added.

New congressional reform caucus needs a to-do list

The Free Press WV

A good-government group, Issue One, announced Wednesday that “19 bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives launched the Congressional Reformers Caucus, the first organization of its kind on Capitol Hill to focus exclusively on discussing political reform ideas and legislation. Co-chaired by Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., the Caucus aims to address ethics and accountability issues in Congress, as well as the roots of dysfunction in the current political system.“

Well, it has no shortage of material.

The group’s agenda includes promoting transparency and disclosure; increasing participation in elections; reducing pay-to-play; strengthening enforcement of existing laws; and improving government integrity and accountability. Let me offer some suggestions for each, a challenge if you will, to see whether this group is ready to do more than issue press releases.

On transparency and disclosure, we need legislation mandating release of 10 years of the president’s and vice president’s tax returns; a hearing on the president’s receipt of foreign emoluments; and improved ethics disclosures so that every senior executive branch member must identify foreign sources of money, including loans.

A complete White House visitors’ log must be maintained and released at regular intervals. Congress needs to shape up as well. A prohibition on middle-of-the-night drafting sessions where lobbyists hand-write in the margins of bills goodies for their clients must be enforced. (No votes on major legislation should be undertaken without an appropriate score from the Congressional Budget Office and/or Joint Committee on Taxation.) If, for example, this group really wants to break the current system, they should refuse to pass the current tax bill, insist on full and open hearings and a period of deliberative debate. Finally, all settlements for discrimination and harassment paid in whole or in part by taxpayer money should be disclosed.

As for participation in elections, Congress should defund and send packing the phony voting integrity commission, a thinly disguised attempt to prove nonexistent voter fraud and then throw up barriers to voting. Congress can promote automatic voter registration (which exists in eight states and the District of Columbia) and impartial redistricting panels to redraw districts in order to promote competitive elections. In addition, entities such as the Commission on Presidential Debates, which perpetuate the duopoly of the two major parties and keep out legitimate third parties and independents, must be eliminated or reformed. (Litigation is ongoing to challenge the Commission on Presidential Debates and the Federal Election Commission for creating rules that make this effectively impossible, according to Hoover Institution senior fellow Larry Diamond.)

With regard to pay-to-play, the president and all White House employees (including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner) must entirely divest of any active businesses. They must liquidate and put the proceeds in a legitimate blind trust. A president under no circumstances should be allowed to own facilities that are rented by government agencies or to which business is funneled by virtue of the president’s travel schedule.

As for strengthening existing laws, the Office of Government Ethics should be expanded, properly funded and given authority to police and enforce ethics agreements signed by executive branch employees. Enforcement should not depend on the ethics officers at the various departments and agencies, which ultimately report to the same executive branch officials whom they are supposed to be monitoring.

Finally, with regard to integrity and accountability, ethics rules applicable to executive branch employees should be extended to the president and vice president, including anti-nepotism rules. As for lawmakers, they must not be allowed, as Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., did, to trade in stocks related to any oversight committee on which they sit. And finally, no executive branch employee should be permitted to travel by charter airplane when commercial transportation is available.

There is plenty of work to be done. We hope the 19 lawmakers are serious about doing it – and about challenging members of their own parties.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

Click Below for additional Articles...

Page 3 of 305 pages  <  1 2 3 4 5 >  Last »




The Gilmer Free Press

Copyright MMVIII-MMXV The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved