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The Free Press WV

►  Senators Capito, Manchin and Paul ask President Obama to investigate AK Steel

CHARLESTON, WV - Several senators, including Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) wrote President Barack Obama a letter that requests he look into accusations of steel dumping leading to layoffs.

The letter specifically names AK Steel as an example of the issues steel companies have had recently. AK Steel announced October 16 that it would temporarily layoff more than 700 people, beginning next month, according to a news release.

“If the plant were to temporarily shut down, not only would there be hundreds of people unemployed but surrounding businesses would also be significantly impacted,“ the senators write in the letter.


►  Harrison County, WV Investing More in New Voting Technology

CLARKSBURG WV — Harrison County will be using new voting machines to maximize efficiency and accuracy in future elections in the county.

The county will become the first in the Mountain State to begin using the DS200 starting in May. This machine uses Intelligent Mark Recognition (IMR) to eliminate guesswork for a ballot that isn’t clear.

Harrison County Clerk Susan Thomas said it’s the beginning of speeding up the elections process.

“We’ve been doing pretty good, but there’s going to be a lot of ballots to count in May,” Thomas said.

Thomas said this will cut down on the amount of time it takes to actually count votes once the polls close.

“I won’t need as much staff in the evening,” she said. “We’ll probably have to step it up in the day time because with new equipment comes growing pains for the poll workers.”

Training poll workers will now become the county’s top priority when it comes to the election’s process.

“That is of utmost importance,” she said. “I want to start that now–putting a plan together because they have to know how the machines work for them to work.”

Thomas added that she will assist any individual or group who is skeptical of the machines or unsure of how the process works.

“And I would be more than willing to take the new voting machines to any group and demonstrate them,” she said. “I’d be more than happy to do that to make them more comfortable with using them.”

The county commission voted on Thursday to purchase the machines that will be used in the May Primary Election at a cost of just over $1 million, to be divided up into two payments.


►  In budget deal, health law foes took a different path

WASHINGTON — Republican foes of President Barack Obama’s health care law may be able to get more by chipping away at it than trying to take the whole thing down at once.

That’s one lesson of the budget deal passed by Congress and signed by the president last week.

It delayed a widely criticized tax on high-cost employer health insurance plans that hasn’t taken effect yet. And it temporarily suspended two taxes on industry already being collected, which are also part of the health law.

In contrast to frontal attacks on “Obamacare” that have repeatedly failed, this tactic could well succeed. Delays and suspensions have a way of becoming permanent.

Polls show that the public remains deeply divided over the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Opponents are already looking for other provisions that could be separated from the law.

Next could be the “employer mandate,“ a requirement that larger companies offer coverage or risk fines. Part of the mandate is a controversial definition of a full-time worker as someone who averages 30 hours a week. Critics say it discourages companies from hiring full-time employees.

“Maybe Republicans have come to grips with the idea that the basic structure of the ACA has been in place long enough that simple repeal is not possible,“ said economist Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute, a business-oriented think tank. Perhaps the budget deal “is practice” for more changes, he added.

Supporters of the health care law are trying to downplay the consequences of the budget deal as superficial dings. It did not touch coverage provisions that have reduced the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low of 9 percent. Indeed, Obama himself announced that 6 million people have already signed up for 2016 coverage, with more than a month left in open-enrollment season.

“I think you can make too much of these particular things,“ said economist Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, referring to the deal. “They don’t actually have any effect on the ACA’s coverage expansion. In that sense, it’s not a blow against the ACA at all.“ The center advocates on behalf of low-income people.

Yet not too long ago a top White House adviser was vigorously defending the health law’s tax on high-cost coverage, known as the Cadillac tax.

The tax is 40 percent of the value of employer-sponsored plans that exceeds certain thresholds: $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. In its first year, 2018, it would have affected 26 percent of all employers and nearly half of larger companies, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Since the tax is indexed to general inflation, which rises more slowly than health insurance premiums, it would have affected a growing share of health plans over time.

Proponents of the tax, including many economists, see it as a much-needed brake on health care spending. But business and labor joined forces to oppose it. The budget deal delayed it two years, and its future is in doubt.

The spirited defense of the tax came from Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “Repealing the tax or delaying its scheduled implementation ... would have serious negative consequences for our health care system,“ Furman warned in a speech October 07.

Pulling back on cost controls in the health law would erode the wages of workers and add to government deficits, Furman explained, adding that “the administration opposes legislation that would repeal or delay this provision.“

Fast forward to a recent White House news briefing, when spokesman Josh Earnest seemed to soften that stance. While Earnest said the administration strongly opposed repealing the Cadillac tax, he didn’t address the notion of delaying it.

The health law’s employer mandate is the next likely focus for opponents, said Antos, the economist.

“The really large employers are not going to stop offering health insurance, since it’s an important benefit,“ he said. “Even analysts on the left would agree that that mandate isn’t going to accomplish much.“

Similar to the Cadillac tax, the employer requirement raises concerns on both sides of the political divide. That could put the mandate into play when Congress again tackles a budget bill, or some other massive piece of legislation on which lots of trades get made behind closed doors.

The step-by-step approach has led to other health law changes. Among them:

– Repealing a long-term care insurance program that was financially questionable.

– Blocking a change in the definition of “small employer” after businesses argued it would raise premiums.

– Changing an income formula for determining who can get Medicaid. Originally, Social Security benefits would not have counted, meaning that some middle-class early retirees could have qualified for nearly free care meant for the poor.

– Limiting the administration’s ability to compensate insurers that signed up sicker-than-expected customers.


►  Lindsey Graham suspends presidential campaign

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) ended his long-shot presidential bid Monday, told supporters in a web video that he succeeded in changing the conversation about how to fight the Islamic State.

“Four months ago, at the very first debate, I said that any candidate who did not understand that we need more American troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIL was not ready to be commander in chief,“ said Graham. “At that time, no one stepped forward to join me. Today, most of my fellow candidates have come to recognize this is what’s needed.“ The Islamic State, a terrorist organization that controls large tracts of Iraq and Syria, is also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Graham’s bid, which never cracked 1 percent in primary polls, locked up an unusual amount of elite support. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), his closest friend in the Senate, immediately endorsed Graham and campaigned with him throughout New Hampshire. Scores of South Carolina donors, who might have otherwise jumped to higher-polling candidates, stayed on Graham’s team out of loyalty—and on the chance that his moderate campaign broke through.

By leaving the race Monday, Graham was able to remove his name from his home state’s primary ballot, creating the sort of free-for-all that candidates such as Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have desired for months. Matt Moore, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, confirmed that Graham was off the ballot within 40 minutes of the announcement going public.

Just six days ago, Graham—whose sizable Senate campaign war chest gave him more financial stability than other underdogs—was resisting any rumor that he might quit or pull his name off the ballot. In the Las Vegas debate spin room, after what will have been his last “undercard” performance, Graham said that he would push at least through the New Hampshire primary. Yet privately, according to Graham strategist Brett O’Donnell, the senator was thinking about a way out of the race.

“It’s something he’s been contemplating for a while and he waited for a bit, just wanted to make sure,“ O’Donnell said in an interview. “It came together over the weekend but it’s been on his mind for a few weeks. If you know him, you know he’s fiscally responsible. He was raised that way and he didn’t want to go into debt on the campaign. I know that was weighing on him. He wanted to go out on his own terms. So, after a great debate last week—he dominated the undercard in our view—it was time. He ends it on a high.“

Still, he would have preferred to end it a little higher. In January, when Graham announced his presidential exploratory committee, he was excited about the chance to challenge Senator Rand Paul (R-S.C.) to a foreign policy debate. In June, when Donald Trump entered the Republican race, Paul flagged and Graham became the mogul’s bluntest critic.

Yet network and party decisions to cleave the swollen Republican field into main stage and “undercard” debates meant that Graham never got to confront either man. An effort to change the format, which O’Donnell participated in, did not elevate the candidate to prime time. He was left making his arguments on the more accessible, and familiar, format of cable news interviews. On Monday, he returned to that role, giving CNN an interview about how the Republican Party needed to follow his lead on foreign policy.

“My campaign has come to the point where I need to think about getting out and helping somebody else,“ Graham told CNN’s Kate Bolduan after the announcement. “Jeb and Marco are very sync with where I’m at. [So are] Christie and Kasich.“


►  Final term WV delegate says too much governing done according to polls

WAYNE, WV — Wayne County Delegate Don Perdue may see a long advocated for increase in the state tobacco tax during his last 60-day regular legislative session next year.

Perdue (D-Wayne) announced earlier this month he would not be seeking reelection. The 2016 regular session will be his 18th and his last.

The state’s budget problems have many talking about a possible increase in the tobacco tax. Perdue, the former chairman of the House Health Committee, has pushed for such an increase for several years without much traction. It may be different his year, Perdue said Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

“That hole in the budget is going to be closer to $600 million to $700 million before it’s all said and done,” Perdue predicted. “When you are faced with that you have to do what will sustain your state. I think they’ll do that.”

Perdue said his decision to leave the legislature has little to do with the Republican takeover last year and more to do with how members, from both parties, choose to legislate.

“Policy is being set by polls instead of principles–and that’s both parties,” Perdue said. “I didn’t see that when I first came to the legislature and it’s nationwide.”

Perdue plans to continue in his role as director of the Wayne County Economic Development Authority.


►  Rand Paul To Marco Rubio: ‘Resign’

Marco Rubio has been criticizing Rand Paul for still running for his seat in the Senate while running for president at the same time, but South Carolina changed their rules to allow for this as much as I may agree with Rubio on this issue.

However, there are many people complaining about Senator Marco Rubio’s refusal to show up to work and vote, and Rand Paul took him head on by telling him he should resign from his job in Congress.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul took a heavy swipe at rival Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.) on missing key votes in the Senate, joining critics who have accused Rubio of failing to do his day job as he shores up support for his White House bid.

“The difference between Marco Rubio and I is I show up for work. He’s missed about a third to a half of his votes this year,” Paul (Ky.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “We have the biggest vote of the whole year, voting on a trillion dollars’ worth of spending, and he didn’t show up.”

  —

“Yeah, I think he ought to resign or give his pay back,” Paul added, echoing statements he made about Rubio’s absence on Friday.


►  Spain Election Puts Ruling Party on the Brink

A strong showing Sunday by a pair of upstart parties in Spain’s general election upended the country’s traditional two-party system, with the ruling Popular Party winning the most votes but falling far short of a parliamentary majority and at risk of being booted from power. Days or weeks of negotiations may be needed to determine who will govern Spain, with the new far-left Podemos and business-friendly Ciudadanos parties producing shockwaves because of strong support from voters weary of high unemployment, a seemingly endless string of official corruption cases, and disgust over the country’s political status quo.

If forced out of government, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Popular Party would become the third European victims this year of a voter backlash against austerity—following elections in Greece and Portugal seen as ballot box rebellions against unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts invoked during the eurozone’s debt crisis. In past Spanish elections, the Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists were the established powerhouses and only needed support from tiny parties to get a majority in parliament when they didn’t win one from voters. But Podemos came in a strong third place and Ciudadanos took fourth in their first election fielding national candidates—setting up a period of uncertainty as parties negotiate with each other to see which ones may be able to form a governing alliance.


►  Why Clinton’s Bathroom Break Took So Long

Time for Ally McBeal-style unisex bathrooms at presidential debates? Hillary Clinton was briefly missing after Saturday night’s Democratic debate returned from a commercial break, and the reason was bathroom inequality, according to the New York Times. Clinton had to walk one minute and 45 seconds each way to the bathroom during the five-minute break, while Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley had a much shorter journey to the men’s room at the St. Anselm College gymnasium, reports the Times, which notes that Clinton aides timed the journey ahead of the debate and told organizers they were concerned about it.

The Boston Globe, however, has a different explanation. Sources tell the Globe that Lis Smith, O’Malley’s deputy campaign manager, was already in the bathroom when Clinton arrived, forcing the candidate to wait, though there was more than one stall, so it isn’t clear why they couldn’t share the bathroom. Glenn Thrush at Politico—who calls the policy-focused debate a “narcoleptic’s dream”—says the longer-than-expected break highlighted Clinton’s dominant position in the Democratic race, since her empty podium “upstaged the two men who soldiered on unsuccessfully as the audience focused more on her blaring absence than their uttered eloquences.“


►  Hillary’s Big Accusation: Does It Stand Up to Facts?

Hillary Clinton made a major accusation against Donald Trump at Saturday night’s Democratic debate—and was late coming back from a possible bathroom break. Those are among the media takeaways from Saturday night’s Democratic debate at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, between Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley:

  • Clinton’s “above-the-fray posture in the debate” revealed her confidence that “neither of her Democratic rivals would prove a significant obstacle,“ the New York Times reports. By targeting Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal says, she “sought to cast herself as the likely nominee, playing down any threat posed by Mr. Sanders’ upstart campaign.“
  • Clinton accused Trump of “becoming ISIS’s best recruiter,“ saying the militant group is “showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.“ But as the AP points out, her campaign hasn’t shown evidence of specific videos being used that way.
  • For his part, Sanders apologized to Clinton for his campaign having taken information about her supporters. He also offered a way to get Middle Eastern countries to help fight ISIS: “Tell Qatar, instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is on their doorstep,“ Slate quotes him as saying.
  • O’Malley “sought to promote himself as the technocratic voice of a new generation,“ writes John Cassidy at the New Yorker. “Occasionally, however, he overdid the youthful bit: after all, at the age of fifty-two, he is hardly a stripling.“
  • Oh, and Clinton returned late from a commercial break with the debate already underway. “Sorry,“ she said with a smile.

Read the debate transcript (with interactive highlights) at the Washington Post.


►  Fey, Poehler Party Like It’s 2007 on SNL

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler returned to their old Saturday Night Live stomping grounds Saturday, and dragged out a couple of beloved ghosts of the 2008 election—and Poehler’s Hillary Clinton of yore ran right into Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton of 2015 as Fey’s Sarah Palin chirped not-quite-coherent platitudes in “A Hillary Christmas.“ “The resulting sketch was the kind of humor that’s marked Fey and Poehler’s careers, the comedy found in the sometimes ridiculous expectations of women,“ writes Stassa Edwards at Jezebel.

“Not enough to work hard, we have to be cool but tough, soft but strong, sweet old lady, but a sweet old lady who says YAS KWEEN!“ crows Poehler, as McKinnon compares Bernie Sanders to a “human Birkenstock.“ As Sharon Shetty of Slate puts it, “uniting three of the best impressions in SNL history yields very, very funny returns.“ Fey and Poehler were promoting Sisters, which was barely noticed at the box office this weekend.

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

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In the weekend before Christmas, not only did we experience some winter-like temperatures, but ice and snow caused numerous wrecks on many of the streets and roads throughout the State.  Traveling back from the railroad in Clarksburg last Friday night, I was caught briefly in a true whiteout situation between Weston and Roanoke on I-79.  Vehicles attempting to pull off the road and wait the storm out could not see where the shoulder area was located.  As a result, cars stopped in the road while others tried to navigate around them.  I was certainly thankful to make it home safely.

While meteorologists predict rain instead of a white Christmas this week, we certainly know cold, ice and snow lurk just around the corner.

Also around the corner, the 2016 legislative session is less than one month away.  One of the first and most important presentations immediately prior to the session convening is the West Virginia Economic Outlook, courtesy of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER).  I’ve been attending their presentations prior to each session and staying in contact throughout the year with their outstanding staff and Dr. John Deskins, Director of BBER and Associate Professor of Economics.

The presentation includes a staggering array of charts, graphs and statistics, but the information provides valuable insights into the economic outlook for our population, workforce needs, jobs, industrial output, manufacturing, and a host of other important research and observations.  It provides another tool to be used and considered with other information as legislation moves through the system.  I look forward to sharing some observations from this informative presentation, scheduled for 9:30 AM on Wednesday, January 13 sometime after the session gets underway.

2015 marks the seventh year for the EQT Students of Excellence Scholarship program, honoring exceptional students throughout West Virginia from each of the 55 counties.

Congratulations to the EQT Students of Excellence for 2015 from our area: Gilmer County High School senior MacKenzee Huff and Braxton County High School senior Sarah Skidmore.  Best wishes as you prepare to pursue higher education degree opportunities.  We’re proud of your accomplishments and look forward to your future endeavors.

On a personal note, I’m appreciative of the many happy birthday greetings, calls, messages and texts last that rolled in last week.  I especially want to thank Jean for pulling off a big surprise birthday/get together at our home last Saturday.  The biggest surprise arrived when Jessica walked thought the door.  She left her home at 3:30 AM and drove nine hours to get back home to Gassaway for my birthday.  Unfortunately, she had to leave in the early hours of Sunday morning, traveling back to South Carolina for work on Monday.  This dad surely needed to see his daughter, even if only for a few hours.  It was a very special day and I’m blessed indeed with family and friends.  I’m looking forward to having Collin and Gavin here after Christmas, with Jessica and Greg joining us over New Year’s weekend.

From our family and home to yours, Jean and I wish for everyone a wonderful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ.  May His love fill your heart and home this Christmas season and throughout the New Year.

In the interim, send your inquiries to my home office at:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624; call 304.364.8411; or fax 304.364.8711.  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.

During this Christmas season - and always - give thanks for your many blessings and remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Merry Christmas and take care.

MEMORANDUM: Senator Capito’s Weekly Address to West Virginians‏

The Gilmer Free Press

What a year 2015 has been! After years of a do-nothing Senate under Democrat control, Republicans have put the Senate back to work and racked up accomplishments for the American people. West Virginia has benefited from many of these accomplishments, including a long-term highway bill, education reform, a balanced budget, Obamacare repeal and my measure to block harmful carbon regulations. This is just the beginning. I am excited for our state’s future and look forward to continuing this momentum in 2016.

Funding Bill Includes Several Important West Virginia Priorities

On Friday, I voted in favor of a bipartisan government funding bill that includes many West Virginia priorities.

Those who took issue with specific parts of the legislation and voted against it failed to consider the overall positive impact this bill will have on American families, workers and businesses.

The bill includes significant funding to combat the drug epidemic that is taking the lives of many West Virginians. It will help expand rural broadband to the more than half of our state that lacks access to high-speed internet, and it boosts funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission.

For those who have been devastated by this administration’s relentless regulatory campaign, the bill includes resources to help our displaced West Virginia miners and improve mine safety. It supports research at West Virginia institutions to make coal, oil and natural gas energy production cleaner and more efficient.

The bill increases resources for our military to modernize operations and better equip our troops. It strengthens our cybersecurity and tightens security requirements in the Visa Waiver program, and prohibits funding to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. It supports veterans’ health care and job training. As we confront threats at home and abroad, this bill will help to enhance our national security, and ensure that we properly care for those who have bravely served our country.

This bill provides an increase in funding to treat, cure and hopefully end Alzheimer’s. This will help the 36,000 West Virginians living with Alzheimer’s and others who have been touched by the disease, including my own family. It also promotes the work of researchers and higher institutions in West Virginia to develop medical breakthroughs and new technologies.

Lastly, the bill puts onerous Obamacare tax hikes on hold and provides tax benefits for members of the military and small businesses. It permanently extends the enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which according to the WV Center for Budget and Policy, helps a combined 131,000 children in 81,000 families in West Virginia. This will provide significant tax relief and certainty to middle-class families and businesses, and lay the path for comprehensive tax reform in the future.

Congress should take its role in determining our nation’s spending priorities very seriously. For the first time in six years, all 12 appropriations bills were reported out of the Appropriations Committee this year, most with bipartisan support.

Unfortunately Democrats put forth a strategy designed to keep Congress from working, including those who are now decrying the current process, and voted to block consideration of individual funding bills on the Senate floor. Because of this Democratic obstruction, we were left with few options: consider the funding bills as a single package or risk shutting down the government. In the future, I urge my Democratic colleagues to allow Congress to pass individual funding bills in a timely manner.

While this bill is far from perfect, it will move us forward in significant ways. I remain disappointed that the Miner’s Protection Act was not included but am committed to protecting our coal mining community from EPA’s devastating regulations and safeguarding our miners’ hard-earned benefits.


Senate Passes Bipartisan Chemical Safety Legislation

Adding yet another bipartisan achievement to the list of Senate accomplishments in 2015, the Senate on Thursday passed bipartisan chemical safety reform legislation that will protect our families while providing a consistent regulatory framework.

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act provides needed reforms to our nation’s outdated chemical safety law. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, I co-sponsored this legislation and voted to pass it out of the committee earlier this year. I am glad the final bill contains language I supported in the EPW Committee to make sure that storage near significant sources of drinking water is a criteria for EPA to account for in deciding which chemicals to review. The strong bipartisan support behind this critical legislation serves as another example of the Senate getting back to work for the American people.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Beginning next week, the Senate will be in recess for the Christmas holiday. My weekly e-newsletter will be on hold until after the holidays, and will resume in January. I would like to wish all West Virginians a safe and merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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

The McKinley Capitol Report

The Gilmer Free Press

A Response to Paris

Earlier in December, governments across the world came to an agreement on global climate change.  Known as the “Pairs Agreement, the final draft was revealed on Saturday. The Pairs Agreement was drafted to deliberately circumvent Congress, as the Obama Administration knew that the measure would not stand a chance of being ratified by the U.S… Senate. My resolution calls on Congress to reject any effort from the Administration to sign or ratify the global climate deal.

This resolution goes on to highlight that other countries, such as India and China, will continue to burn coal, and adopting this agreement will result in job loss, increased energy costs, and risks our nation’s grid reliability. This resolution sends a clear message to the world that Congress, and the American people, do not support the Obama Administration’s continued efforts to wreck havoc on coal country.


Protecting Those Who Serve

This week, the Senate voted to pass a bill that would authorize correctional officers to carry pepper spray for their protection. Its named after Officer Eric Williams, a correctional officer who was murdered in the line of duty in 2013.

As the author of the House version of this bill, I am pleased to see the Senate take action on this important issue. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House to see that this legislation is brought forward to a vote and makes it to the Presidents desk.


A Missed Opportunity

This Friday, the House voted to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2016. I voted against passage of this bill for several reasons, including the lack of provisions to help coal miners and their families.

Congress missed an opportunity to take action and help thousands of struggling West Virginians. By removing essential energy provisions, such as protection against the disastrous Stream Buffer Rule and support for coal ash recycling, this bill included nothing of substance to provide relief to those struggling under President Obama’s “War on Coal.“

While the bill did contain several positive features - such as increased fossil fuel research and additional funding for medical research - there is not nearly enough to help the thousands of coal miners, their families, and their communities who are struggling.


Sports Round Up

Last Saturday, the Wheeling Jesuit women’s volleyball team won WJU’s first ever National Championship title. The Cardinals faced off against the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish, winning three straight sets to bring home the trophy. It was a tremendous win for Wheeling Jesuit and the First District and I are incredibly proud of these fine young women.

Switching gears to basketball, WVU has started strong with a 9-1 record in their first ten games. Yesterday, the Mountaineers faced off against in-state rival Marshall, pulling away with an 86-68 win over the Herd. Next week they take on Eastern Kentucky and Virginia Tech before beginning conference play at the start of the New Year. Let’s Go, Mountaineers!


Here for the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, my wife, Mary, and I would like to extend you all our warmest wishes. We are reminded of all the individuals who have helped us throughout the year, most of all, our hard working staff in both Washington, D.C… and across our offices in the First District.

We want to let you know that our offices will be open during the holidays and we are ready to help you. To get in touch please contact my Washington, D.C… office by phone at 202.225.4172 or my Morgantown office at 304.284.8506. If you’d like to send an email please visit my website at www.mckinley.house.gov.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

David McKinley
The Gilmer Free Press

Mooney: This Week in Congress

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, I introduced the Technical Education and Career Help (TEACH) Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to improve technical education in West Virginia and around the country. The Martinsburg Journal recently wrote an article about the bill, which can be found here. 

On Thursday, I voted for a package of tax cuts for American families and small businesses. These tax cuts will allow West Virginians to keep more of their hard-earned money. I am pleased the bill passed and will be signed into law.

On Friday, I voted against the this year’s terrible $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, which unfortunately passed. The bill funds Planned Parenthood, does not defund Obama’s War on Coal, and was negotiated in the back rooms of Washington with no transparency. The House needs to exercise the power of the purse to protect freedoms, jobs and conservative values, and this bill does not do that.

I did offer an amendment to the bill that would have blocked any funding for implementing Obama’s harmful Stream Protection Rule, which will kill an estimated 76,000 mining jobs, but the amendment was unfortunately blocked and not included in the bill.


This Week In The 2nd District

I spent the early part of this week in Charleston, where I was able to tour great businesses and facilities such as the Columbia Pipeline Group, which employs over 450 hardworking West Virginians.

I also look forward to watching Division II Championship football game between the Shepherd University Rams and the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats on Saturday, December 18, 2015. I also have placed a friendly wager with Congressman Sam Graves of Missouri, where the losing team’s Member must wear the opposing team’s gear the first day that Congress is back in session in 2016.

I also had the pleasure of meeting with numerous constituents this week. Please stop by my office if you are ever visiting Washington D.C.

Thank you,
The Gilmer Free Press
Alex X. Mooney
Member of Congress

WV Congressman Evan Jenkins

The Gilmer Free Press

Last week the House passed important legislation to close loopholes in our nation’s visitor screening process and keep terrorists out of the country. The Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, which I cosponsored, would require that visitors who have traveled to Iraq, Syria or other areas of concern go through the regular, thorough visa screening process.

Thirty-eight countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which expedites entry into the United States. The Visa Waiver Program, as it stands now, has clear loopholes that would allow someone who recently traveled to ISIS territories to come to the United States as a visitor with minimal scrutiny. Americans deserve to know that visitors from other countries have been thoroughly screened, and we must use every resource possible to prevent terrorists from entering our country.


Highway bill is a victory for West Virginia

The FAST Act, a five-year, fully-funded highway bill, has been signed into law. That means billions for West Virginia over the next five years to repair our roads, fix our bridges, build new highways, and make our railways safer. I recently wrote an op-ed on this crucial piece of legislation, explaining how it will help our state and how spending priorities will be determined.


Ensuring justice for crime victims

On Friday, I held a symposium, Working for Justice: Resources and Tools for Law Enforcement and Prosecutors, at the Marshall University Forensic Science Center in Huntington.

I organized the symposium with one goal in mind: clearing our backlog of untested kits so justice can be secured for victims of heinous crimes. I brought law enforcement, prosecutors and victims’ advocates to Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center to learn more about the resources Marshall has to help test our state’s kits. I am pleased to have helped secure a grant worth more than $1 million to help the Forensic Science Center test kits, and I know this money will be put to good use. By collaborating and sharing resources, we can make a difference across West Virginia.


Beckley VA Claims Clinic

The Beckley VA Medical Center will hold a veterans claims clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec, 15, to help veterans file and process their claims. Veterans can file new claims, check the status of pending claims, or receive guidance on other benefits.

The VA is located at 200 Veterans Ave. in Beckley. If you are a veteran with questions or problems with your claims, please consider attending this important clinic.

Sincerely,
The Gilmer Free Press
Evan Jenkins
Member of Congress

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