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In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  wv Auditor Glen Gainer will not seek re-election

CHARLESTON, WV – Long-time State Auditor Glen Gainer, III, tells Metronews he has decided not to run for re-election in 2016.  The Democrat said he made the decision about two weeks ago to leave public life at the end of his sixth term and enter the private sector.

Gainer said his decision is not related to a recent controversy over the switch in state’s payroll to checks being distributed every two weeks instead of twice a month.  Instead, Gainer said he just felt like it was time.

“Politics are changing,” Gainer said, adding that 24 years in the position is long enough.  “I don’t want to be stagnant.”

Gainer, 56, added a little gallows humor about his decision.  “I’m looking at the pictures (of former Auditors) on my wall and since 1960, two have died in office; I don’t want to be the third.”

Gainer refuted rumors that he might resign early.  “I want to finish things,” Gainer said.

The name “Gainer” has become synonymous with the Auditor’s office. Denzil Gainer was elected Auditor in 1960.  He died in office in 1972.  In 1976, Glen Gainer, Jr, (Denzil Gainer’s cousin) was elected to the position.  He was followed by his son, current Auditor Glen Gainer III, who was first elected in 1992 and five more terms after that.

His decision opens up that seat on the state Board of Public Works.  Republican J.B. McCuskey earlier announced his decision to run for the office, while the Democratic Party will be looking for a viable candidate.  McCuskey, a Charleston attorney, is currently serving his second two-year term in the House of Delegates representing Kanawha County’s 35th District.


►  Poll puts Justice 12 points ahead of Cole in Governor’s race - Justice leads Kessler by 23 points in primary race

CHARLESTON, WV — A recent poll show Democrat Jim Justice leads Republican Bill Cole by 12 points — 44 percent to 32 percent —  in the race for Governor.

According to a Global Strategy Group poll commissioned by the Justice campaign, Justice has doubled his lead over Bill Cole since September, when he led Cole 36 percent to 30 percent.

These results are based on a new survey of 400 likely 2016 General Election voters conducted by Global Strategy Group. Justice is viewed favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 15% of likely General Election voters. Justice’s favorability has improved since September – 28% favorable to 18% unfavorable.

In the Democratic Primary for Governor, Justice holds a 23-point advantage over Jeff Kessler. Justice leads Kessler 48% to 25%. Justice’s lead over Kessler has grown significantly since August, when Justice led 28% to 26% based on a Prism Strategies poll commissioned by the Kessler campaign.


ABOUT THIS POLL

Global Strategy Group conducted a live telephone survey of 400 likely 2016 General Election voters in West Virginia from December 1-3, 2015. The results of this survey have a margin of error of +/-4.9%. An additional 250 interviews were conducted among likely 2016 Democratic primary voters to reach 350 total Democratic primary voters. The margin of error on the Democratic Primary election sample is +/-5.2%. The total number of interviews conducted is 650. Care has been taken to ensure the partisan, geographic and demographic divisions of the expected electorate are properly represented based on historical turnout.


►  Jenkins co-sponsors bill to strengthen screening through Visa Waiver Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill that would help identify and stop terrorists from entering the United States through the Visa Waiver Program is before the U.S. House.

West Virginia Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-WV) co-sponsored the bill that he said he believes would strengthen our national security.

Currently, 38 countries use the program, but thousands of passport holders from those countries have traveled to Iraq, Syria and other areas to meet up with ISIS and other terrorist groups. The program allows for an expedited entry into the United States, however, Jenkins said this bill would require a stricter screening process.

The bill was introduced on the heels of the recent terror attacks both in Paris and San Bernadino, Calif.

“We need to look at the program that this terrorist, the lady (Tashfeen Malik), used from the engagement to her husband (Syed Rizwan Farook), so we’re on top of this. We are tightening it up because that is a huge, huge loophole,” Jenkins said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The current program lacks strong information sharing, Jenkins said.

“We know that the attacks in Europe, in particular in France, the names of those attackers were not shared with the U.S. Intelligence Community,” he said.

On Sunday night, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office about steps the government is taking to protect the American people from terrorism.

Obama said his plan to take on ISIS would be demonstrated through our nation’s values of being “relentless, strong and smart.”

Jenkins said that was the commander-in-chief’s way of skirting around ways to defeat ISIS.

“I just simply don’t believe this President believes in American leadership and American exceptionalism to advance the fundamental beliefs that we have in freedom, in justice and liberty,” he said. “What he is doing is curtailing what the best military minds would suggest is a way to truly defeat and destroy ISIS.”

Obama’s speech was meant to reassure nervous American citizens that the government is on top of things, but Jenkins said he did not believe that was the case after listening to his address.

“All I heard was him simply restating what he’s already been doing and we know that’s not been doing much,” he said.

The bill, also known as the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, would ensure that travelers are thoroughly screened by requiring every participating country to have e-passports.

The U.S. House could take up the bill this week.


►  Sign if you agree: Congress must not sell sacred Native American land to a foreign corporation for mining

In early November I introduced a bill to stop Congress from transferring sacred Native American land to a foreign-owned corporation with plans to develop the largest copper mine in North America.

Please, sign if you agree: Congress must not sell sacred Native American land to a foreign corporation for mining—urge Congress to pass the Save Oak Flat Act now.

The land, known as Oak Flat, is located in the Tonto National Forest and has significant religious and cultural value to Apaches, Yavapais, and other Native Americans in the region.

The companies who will receive the land under the deal, Rio Tinto P.L.C. and its subsidiary Resolution Copper, will reap tens of billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer assets from the exchange.

We must defend the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are standing in opposition to this giveaway of our natural resources to foreign corporations. Click here to sign the petition and stand against this corporate land grab.

The Save Oak Flat Act repeals a section of the National Defense Authorization Act that approved the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange Act. Proponents of the Land Exchange added the provision to the 1,700-page bill the night before it came up for consideration.

The Land Exchange circumvents existing federal protections for Native American sacred and cultural areas. The proposed mine will collapse the surface of the land, destroying forever a Native American place of worship and threatening our First Americans’ traditions and ways of life. Resolution Copper says the copper ore mined will likely be shipped out of the United States.

Sign if you agree: Do not sell sacred Native American land to foreign corporations, pass the Save Oak Flat Act.

Solidarity,

Bernie Sanders for President


►  GOP Banker to Challenge Democratic WV Treasurer

A banker will announce a Republican bid for longtime Democratic state Treasurer John Perdue’s job.

In a campaign news release Tuesday, Charleston resident Ann Urling said she’ll vie for the four-year job and announce her candidacy Wednesday at the Capitol.

Urling is the senior vice president of Summit Community Bank headquartered in Moorefield. She is a commercial lender in the Charleston office.

A Shinnston native, she has 29 years of retail banking, management and lending experience.

Republican state Delegate Larry Faircloth is also running for treasurer.

Perdue is in his fifth term and has served as treasurer since 1997. His website says he will become the longest-servingWest Virginia treasurer this year.

Perdue manages more than $13 billion of state money annually as treasurer.

Perdue was paid $97,575 in 2014.


►  Longtime Harrison County judge to not seek re-election

CLARKSBURG, WV - One of Harrison County’s longest-serving judges ever has announced he won’t seek re-election.

The Exponent Telegram (http://bit.ly/1Qcrgr0 ) reports that 63-year-old Judge John Lewis Marks Jr. said Monday that he gave careful consideration to the matter over the Thanksgiving holiday before making the decision to end what will be the fourth-longest stint by a Harrison County judge.

Marks was appointed in 1996 by Governor Gaston Caperton to replace retired Judge Dan McCarthy and plans to complete his current eight-year term, which ends December 31, 2016. By that time, Marks will have served nearly 21 years on the Harrison County bench.

Once he steps down, Marks said he hopes to work some as a senior status judge, serve as a mediator and spend more time with his family.


►  Inside Rubio’s ‘Water Tic’

Marco Rubio somewhat infamously interrupted his 2013 State of the Union response to take a swig of water. It wasn’t the first such notable sip by the Florida senator, and it’s far from the last, reports Ben Schreckinger in a nearly 1,800-word Politico piece solely on Rubio’s purported “water tic.“ Schreckinger recalls Rubio’s much-lauded May 2008 speech given upon his retirement as Florida’s House speaker in which, as video shows, he stopped throughout to take noisy sips from a water- and ice-filled Styrofoam cup. “Rubio’s need for constant hydration is a bodily quirk that impinges on his political life,“ asserts Schreckinger. An unnamed associate says it’s really not about hydration at all, likening the water to a “security blanket.“

What does Rubio say? Schreckinger points to a November New Yorker article in which Rubio said his throat continually “feels dry,“ citing adult-onset allergies that he has suffered from (due to extensive travel, suggested his doctor) since 2011. A Rubio rep gave only this comment for the article: “Politico has lost its mind.“ That doesn’t stop Schreckinger from asserting that the timeline shows his penchant for water can’t really be due to circa 2011 allergies; from digging into the particulars of Rubio’s water needs (he reportedly requests water in a stemless glass only when giving speeches); and from noting that on the rare event it’s absent, Rubio seems to have bumbling moments. Read Schreckinger’s piece, which also touches on Rubio’s perspiration “distraction,“ at Politico.


►  Trump Issues New Solution for Muslim Refugees

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called Monday for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.“ The proposed ban would stand “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,“ his campaign says in a statement. The statement added that Trump’s proposal comes in response to the level of hatred among “large segments of the Muslim population” toward Americans. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,“ Trump says in the statement.

He added on Twitter: “Just put out a very important policy statement on the extraordinary influx of hatred & danger coming into our country. We must be vigilant!“ Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says Trump’s proposed ban would apply to “everybody,“ including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. He did not respond to questions about whether it would also include Muslims who are US citizens and travel outside of the country, or how a determination of someone’s religion might be made by customs and border officials. In response to a request for additional detail, Trump said via a campaign spokeswoman: “Because I am so politically correct, I would never be the one to say. You figure it out!“


►  Bernie Nabs Historic Win in Time’s Person of the Year Poll

He beat Malala, the pope, and even his biggest competition for the Democratic nomination. Voting for Time magazine’s annual Person of the Year award ended Sunday at midnight, and Bernie Sanders emerged as the victor with 10.2% of reader votes, pulling off what the Daily Dot observes is a historic feat: He’s the first presidential candidate to win the most votes before being elected to the nation’s top spot; only three actual US presidents— FDR, Reagan, and Obama—have ever claimed that same honor. Teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai came in second with 5.2%, while Pope Francis took third with 3.7%. Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ main competitor in the POTUS race, lagged behind in the No. 29 spot, behind Adele, Donald Trump, and American Pharoah. But it’s not like we’ll be seeing Bernie on the cover: Time editors still have final say on who makes the short list, and Sanders wasn’t included on the eight-person roster announced Monday on the Today show.

Instead, finalists were: ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi; Black Lives Matter activists; Caitlyn Jenner; Uber CEO Travis Kalanick; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Vladimir Putin; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani; and Donald Trump, who only got 1.8% of the popular vote in the poll. As the Daily Dot explains, the finalists aren’t chosen for their popularity, but for how much they’ve influenced that year’s news, “for better or worse.“ Brent Budowsky writes for the Observer that “Bernie Sanders got a raw deal from Time,“ advising the Vermont senator’s supporters, “Don’t get mad, get even” and instructing them to bombard Sanders’ campaign with a flood of small donations. The winner of Time’s Person of the Year award will be announced Wednesday morning on the Today show.


►  Cruz Trounces Trump in New Iowa Poll

Ben Carson’s loss may be Ted Cruz’s gain—and responsible for the new thorn in Donald Trump’s side, at least in Iowa. The Texas senator zipped ahead of Trump in a new Monmouth University poll released Monday, the New York Times reports. Cruz, who garnered support of 24% of likely GOP caucusgoers, now enjoys a 5-point lead over Trump (19%), followed by Marco Rubio at 17% and Carson at 13%; everyone else in the field lags at 6% or less. The last Monmouth poll in October had Carson in the lead, but he’s fallen 19 percentage points since. Backing Cruz the most in the poll—conducted December 03 to 6 among 425 Iowa voters likely to attend the GOP caucuses in February—are evangelicals: Cruz nabbed the support of 30% of them, while previous evangelical pick Carson only brought in 15% this time around (Trump hovers in the middle with 18%).

Another boost for Cruz: the endorsement of the Hawkeye State’s Rep. Steve King, which 20% of polled Republicans said would make them more likely to throw their support behind Cruz. “This marks the first time Ted Cruz has held a lead in any of the crucial early states,“ the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute says in a press release. “As Ben Carson’s stock has fallen, Cruz has been able to corral most of those voters.“


►  HuffPo Finds New Home for Trump Stories

The Huffington Post has decided to return Donald Trump to the politics section that it banished him from back in July, when it called his campaign a “sideshow.“ HuffPo President Arianna Huffington says Trump’s latest “vicious pronouncement,“ a call to ban all Muslims from entering the US, shows that his campaign has become an “ugly and dangerous force in American politics,“ so Trump stories will no longer appear in the entertainment section. “That’s not to say we’ll be treating it as if it were a normal campaign,“ writes Huffington, who says Trump has “doubled down on the cruelty and know-nothingness that defined his campaign’s early days” and that the “novelty has curdled and congealed into something repellent and threatening.“

As Trump rose to the top of the polls and remained there over the last five months, the Post was criticized for its decision to keep Trump out of its politics section, though the policy wasn’t applied very strictly, Politico reports. Huffington says the Post will now present the “unvarnished, un-euphemized Trump,“ calling him a racist and a sexist whenever he shows himself to be one, and will cover the “disastrous impact” the Trump campaign “continues to have on his fellow candidates—and the national conversation.“ The Post wasn’t pulling any punches in its politics section on Monday: A headline accused Trump of “going full fascist” with his calls for a Muslim entry ban.

The Changing Electorate

The Free Press WV

The paradox about elections is that we tend to frame them in historical context—here’s what happened before. But they are always about the future. Which candidate best articulates the way forward and how will changing demographics and attitudes impact the outcome?

Pollsters Peter Hart of Hart Research Associates and Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies recently sat down with the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel to give their insights on how the election landscape has shifted in just eight years. See the full story here.

McInturff cites three rapidly changing trends since Barack Obama was first elected in 2008: The country’s going-to-church rate has dropped six to seven points after holding steady for a long period; Millennials have become a more important voting block; The number of people here who were born outside of the country is at its highest level since the 1880’s (13 percent).

McInturff says millennials supported Obama, but “part of that reason is because 18 to 29-year-olds are 45 percent African-American, Latino and Asian. They are mirroring what’s happening below them, which is a majority of our new births are African-American, Asian and Latino.”

“What makes (millennials) different is there are these attitudes about gay marriage and social tolerance that are radically different than previous generations,” McInturff said. “They are restructuring our views.”

Meanwhile, Hart says Republicans and Democrats generally coalesce on the issue of public dissatisfaction. “We ask a question on economic dislocation and unhappiness with the power elite. You’ve got a majority of Americans that agree with the statement, and it was almost equal between Republicans and Independents and Democrats.”

However, Hart says voters send mixed signals about the solution. “What the country says is, ‘I want compromise,’ but what they’re telling their individual congressperson is, ‘Vote my way. I want you to represent my views.’”

The make-up of the American electorate is going to change significantly over the next generation. The Wall Street Journal cites U.S. Census Bureau projections showing the non-Hispanic white population will fall below 50 percent—it is currently 62 percent—by 2045.*

The population will also become older. The Census Bureau projects that the 65-and-older population will increase from the current 15 percent to 22 percent. Additionally, the United States will become more of a nation of immigrants. By 2045, 18 percent of the U.S. population will have been born in another country. However, Census demographics do not necessarily match voter turnout.

Ultimately, elections are about which voter segments are most enthusiastic about their candidate. With electoral demographics and attitudes changing, the question is: Will millennials, persons born outside the U.S. and non-whites be more likely to vote in 2016 than older, white voters?

Pollster Rex Repass with Repass Research says that “with dissatisfaction in government at an all-time high, some argue that those feeling most enthusiastic about this election cycle are not millennials and ethnic voters, but older whites who want significant change in Washington, a return to traditional values, and strong U.S. global leadership.”

This is the voting bloc that is currently supporting Trump, Carson and Cruz; but is it large enough to converge into passionate support of one candidate in the general election and emerge as the deciding factor in 2016? What impact will these shifts have on voter turnout and ultimately the outcome of the 2016 elections?

Regardless of the time period, successful politicians are those that can lead by communicating a clear vision of the future, understand trends that motivate voters, and effectively turn out their voters on election day.

(*Hispanic origin is considered an ethnicity, not a race. WSJ)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The Free Press WV

“I want to say I’m sorry. Deeply saddened. It’s a sad day for all of us.”

                    — Saira Khan, the sister of the male shooter in San Bernardino

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  Obama Made an Error in Oval Office Speech

In his Sunday night Oval Office address, President Obama may not have covered much new ground on overcoming terrorism, but he did note that he’s seeking answers about how San Bernardino shooting suspect Tashfeen Malik ended up in the US. “I’ve ordered the departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country,“ he said, per Politico. Except one word in that statement—“waiver”—rendered it inaccurate, as Malik came into the country on a fiance visa, not through a federal program that waives visas. A confirmation from the White House noted Obama’s mistake, and the official transcript of the speech has corrected the error.

As explained on the State Department website, the Visa Waiver Program allows eligible travelers from one of 38 participating countries to come to the US for up to 90 days without a visa. Malik had lived in both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before her arrival in the States, and neither country is one of the 38 covered under that waiver program. Instead, Malik came in through what the Los Angeles Times refers to as the “previously obscure” K-1 fiance visa program, which requires the newcomer to marry his or her US sponsor within 90 days of arrival. That program includes a reportedly comprehensive counterterrorism screening—including the use of fingerprint checks and facial recognition software—as well as other paperwork and interviews to prove that a couple is indeed planning on marriage. (The Los Angeles Times offers a primer on the K-1 visa.)


►  Whole Family Packs Heat in Lawmaker’s Xmas Card

Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore has wished America a merry Christmas from her, her family, and their guns. In a Christmas card posted on her Facebook page, the Republican lawmaker poses with family members who are holding an assortment of firearms, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which notes that Fiore is a member of pro-gun groups, including the NRA and Second Amendment Sisters. Four generations of Fiores can be seen holding guns in the festive photo, including the lawmaker’s adult daughters and her grandson Jake, who holds a Walther P22 handgun. “It’s up to Americans to protect America. We’re just your ordinary American family,“ Fiore wrote in a December 1 post accompanying the photo.

Fiore’s views were already well-known—she released similar photos on occasions like Mother’s Day, and she stars in her own Second Amendment calendar—but the Christmas card has proved controversial amid the intensified gun-control debate after the San Bernardino shootings, BuzzFeed reports. Fiore tells CNN that she doesn’t regret having posted the photo the day before the massacre. “What’s regrettable is governing and forcing innocent people to be defenseless while allowing and inviting terrorists into our country knowing the murderous outcome,“ she says.


►  How Trump Reacted to Obama’s Speech

Donald Trump live-tweeted President Obama’s rare Oval Office address Sunday night, and the criticisms began early: “The podium in the Oval Office looks odd,“ Trump grumbled. “Not good, but the words will be the key.“ After Obama began speaking, Trump retweeted comments about stopping all visas and making America great again, the New York Daily News reports. “Is that all there is? We need a new President—FAST!“ Trump tweeted when the speech was over. He went on to criticize Obama for refusing to say “we are at WAR with RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS,“ and for saying ISIL instead of ISIS, “like almost everybody else.“

Other GOP candidates also addressed the speech, with Ben Carson calling it “strange,“ CNN reports. “Strange that it took four days from the attack to respond and even more strange that somehow the attack on our soil is proof his policies are working. One must wonder who has contained who,“ he said. Marco Rubio slammed the speech as “cynical,“ while Ted Cruz said that when he becomes president, he will “direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS” and also “shut down the broken immigration system that is letting jihadists into our country.“


►  Trump: No End to Terror til Obama ‘Gets the Hell Out’

The world is stuck with terrorism at least for another year, says Donald Trump, who lays the blame for attacks like those in San Bernardino and Paris at the door of President Obama, who he blames for not even using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.“ “Until he admits that this is a problem, we’re never gonna solve the problem,“ Trump told Face the Nation, via Politico. “But he’s only gonna be there, fortunately, a little bit more than a year. Because the problem will get solved when he gets the hell out.“ Trump added that he is open to the idea of profiling, saying of those who don’t “call the police because they didn’t want to be profiling, I think that’s pretty bad. People are dead. A lot of people are dead right now. Further, “You have people that have to be tracked,“ he says. “If they’re Muslims, they’re Muslims.“


►  Obama Said ‘Close to Nothing,‘ and Nothing New

On Sunday night, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office for the third time in his presidency. What the pundits are saying about the rare event:

  • At Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere has pretty much nothing positive to say about a speech that “said close to nothing” and did little to advance America’s understanding of how our leader and government plan to combat terrorism. It was a “not-so-peppy pep talk,“ and seven years after his “cool, calm ‘I got this’ air helped get him elected ... it’s clear that many Americans don’t want reassurance, but want him to convey the sense of urgency that they’re feeling.“ He failed to do that, nor did he even manage to reassure.
  • In a Washington Post piece headlined “Obama’s Oval Office address reflects struggle to be heard, “ Greg Jaffe agrees that Obama said nothing new, but rather tried to get the American people to hear what he’s been saying for weeks: that he’s pursuing a strategy that is “strong and smart, resilient and relentless.“ His goal was to reassure, and Jaffe doesn’t really weigh in on whether he did that. But he does note that “the absence of big new policy proposals from the president reflects the lack of any low-cost or tidy solutions to ease [America’s] concerns.“
  • At the New York Times, David E. Sanger argues that the purpose of Obama’s speech wasn’t to reveal new strategies against ISIS. Rather, he tried to “make the case that his administration was ahead of the problem, not playing catch-up.“ But Sanger then goes on to recount recent criticism by some of Obama’s “closest former counterterrorism advisers” that he is moving “too incrementally.“ One example, from former top Pentagon intelligence official Michael Vickers: “In the two months during which the United States drove al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan in 2001, after the September 11 attacks, it conducted as many airstrikes as it has in the past 16 months in Iraq and Syria.“
  • But in Fred Kaplan’s view, Obama did a decent job of doing a fairly impossible task. Kaplan writes for Slate, “Will any of these remarks assuage widespread fears about terrorist attacks in the holiday season and beyond? Probably not. What could he or anyone else have said that might have had that effect? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.“ Obama may not have offered “dramatic answers,“ but “he laid out a road. Critics who have never been dealt hard questions on the subject soon reveal that their road doesn’t look very different.“

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

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The beautiful weekend weather was a great way to enjoy the early, sunny days of December.  Again this week, gasoline prices continue to drop, further providing an economic window of opportunity for working families.  Being one of the countless West Virginians that commutes hundreds of miles to work each week, it’s welcome economic relief for all our citizens.  How long these prices will remain below $2 per gallon, no one can accurately predict.  However, the savings may provide the margin that allows many families the opportunity to travel and be together over the Christmas holidays.

On Monday, the nation paused to formally remember and memorialize the Pearl Harbor events of December 7, 1941.  In the wake of that horrific attack, America and freedom loving nations around the world embarked on Pacific and European campaigns to defeat Japan, Nazi Germany and their Axis cohorts.  I am so proud of and grateful to our “Greatest Generation” and its soldiers, sailors, airmen and families that won the war; then came home to build our nation into an economic and military powerhouse.  Our nation continues to be inspired and in awe of these men and women and their example for future generations. 

Sadly, just days before Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, once again cowardly and evil ISIS inspired mass murderers chose to strike – this time on our homeland in a California community that left more than thirty people dead or wounded.  The innocent victims were employees enjoying a workplace Christmas party.

It will take a worldwide effort to defeat these extremists.  It will also require the fervent national resolve to never let this type of terrorist attack deter us from our way of life, our beliefs and our freedom.  As a nation, we mourn the loss of our citizens.  In remembrance of all our citizens that have been victims of terrorism, we pray for their families; and for the safety of our law enforcement and military personnel as they work day and night to protect our homeland and go after these terrorists and bring them to justice.  America must lead by example and lead the charge. 

Finally this week, it’s hard to believe 2015 has gone by so quickly and with 2016 rapidly approaching, so is the Second Regular Session of the 82nd West Virginia Legislature.  The session begins on January 13.  Here is the 2016 Legislative Calendar.

First Day - January 13, 2016: First day of session. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)

Twentieth Day - February 01, 2016: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)

Forty-first Day - February 22, 2016: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Senate Rule 14 does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

Forty-second Day - February 23, 2016: Last day to introduce bills in the House. House Rule 91a does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

Forty-seventh Day – February 28, 2016: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

Fiftieth Day - March 02, 2016: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5b)

Sixtieth Day - March 12, 2016: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)

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.

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.

GROW YOUR OWN WEST VIRGINIA HOLIDAY TRADITION

A column by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
The Free Press WV

The holiday season is filled with traditions like dinners prepared with special family recipes, shopping, gift exchanges, open houses and caroling - just to name a few. A tradition many West Virginia families enjoy is making an annual trip to a local Choose and Cut Christmas tree farm.

Make purchasing your fresh Christmas tree a family adventure. Before you go, decide which species of tree you want - pine, spruce or fir - and measure the area where you plan to locate it in your home. Knowing the height and width you need also will help you steer clear of anything too large or too small. Once you know what you want, find the farm nearest you that grows your chosen species and has the size of tree you need.

This is also the time to decide whether you want to cut the tree yourself or if you want help. The majority of West Virginia’s Choose and Cut Christmas tree farms provide some degree of assistance and tools to get the tree from the field to the car. Others, though, let you do it all yourself so be sure to take along any tools you might need. The West Virginia Division of Forestry provides an interactive map and listings of participating Choose and Cut Christmas tree farms. Download information on locations, operating hours, products, species, sizes and services at wvforestry.com.

When you’re ready, make a day of it! Load the family into the car and sing Christmas carols as you drive to the farm. Once you are there, enjoy any seasonal touches the farm may provide like candy canes, hot cocoa or live music. Before you leave, check out any other products the farm sells, including wreaths and greenery to bring added holiday cheer to your home.

A visit to a Choose and Cut Christmas tree farm creates an enduring holiday memory of togetherness and family fun, and buying your Christmas tree at a Choose and Cut Christmas tree farm supports local farmers and the local economy, which benefits all of us.

Whether you are honoring a long-held family tradition or starting a new one, I encourage you to make this holiday season special with a West Virginia-grown Choose and Cut Christmas tree.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

MEMORANDUM: Senator Capito’s Weekly Address to West Virginians‏

The Gilmer Free Press

This was a historic week in the Senate. We passed the first long-term highway bill in more than a decade and sent an Obamacare repeal bill to the president’s desk for the first time. From lifting the costly burdens of Obamacare and working toward quality, affordable care, to investing in our roads, bridges and highways, both of these bills benefit West Virginia.


West Virginians Deserve a Health Care System That Works

Since Obamacare went into effect, premiums have skyrocketed, small businesses have been forced to cut hours and employees, and countless families have lost access to the doctor and health care plan of their choice. I have voted repeatedly to repeal the disastrous law, and I am glad that the Senate passed an Obamacare repeal bill this week. This is the first time that an Obamacare repeal bill will reach the presidents’ desk – another example of how the Republican-led Senate is delivering results for the American people.

In addition to lifting the heavy burden of Obamacare, this bill also repeals more than $1 trillion in onerous taxes and includes significant resources for mental health and substance abuse services – funding that is vital to West Virginia. I also fought to include a two year transition period for Medicaid expansion in the bill, which will give us time to enact alternative reforms without disrupting coverage. To watch my floor speech on Obamacare.


Moving WV’s Transportation System Forward

This week we also passed a bipartisan, five-year transportation funding bill, known as the FAST Act. This is great news for our state. Not only will this bill provide long-term stability and improve traffic congestion, it will help increase access to rural communities and boost economic development. This is the first time in more than a decade that Congress has passed a multi-year funding bill.

The FAST Act will invest more than $2 billion over the next five years to advance critical projects and repair crumbling infrastructure throughout West Virginia. The bill also includes an important initiative to improve broadband access in rural communities. I am thrilled the Senate came together to pass this long-term transportation funding bill.


Congress Strikes Down Harmful EPA Rules

On Tuesday, my resolution blocking EPA’s harmful Clean Power Plan regulations was sent to the president’s desk after passing in the House of Representatives. These EPA regulations threaten jobs and affordable energy while doing little to actually improve the environment – an outcome West Virginia families cannot afford. My resolution sends a strong signal to world leaders at the climate summit in Paris that they should be cautious about entering into a deal with an administration whose policies are not backed by the U.S. Congress.


Beckley Office Hours Announced for December

On Thursday, December 10th from 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and Thursday, December 17th from 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., my staff members will be available at the Beckley office to meet one-on-one with constituents. Appointments are encouraged, but the office hours are open to the public.


This Week in Washington & West Virginia

Thank you to everyone who came by to see me in D.C. this week. I enjoyed hearing about the issues that are important to you and how we can work together to create a stronger West Virginia. Scroll through the photos below for highlights from this week.

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

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