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Politics, Government, Election

G-OpEd™: Legislature & Secretary of State

Legislature Addresses Elections, Business Filings and Efficiencies for Secretary of State’s Office
The Free Press WV

The day I took office we began meeting with legislators to swiftly draft proposed bills to deal with the difficulties encountered in this office. I asked our employees to tell me the problems they confront on a daily basis while doing their work for the companies and voters we serve. We reached out to county clerks and business leaders to find solutions to issues they face.

I was astonished by the input we received and the coalitions we ultimately formed to work toward common goals. During the legislative session, we closely monitored and participated in the progress of legislation shaping our state. I would like to specifically highlight key legislation passed to assist in streamlining the office and eliminating waste of taxpayer’s money:


Cutting the red tape for businesses:

The Legislature required the Secretary of State to create a “One-Stop” call center, website and tax collection mechanism for businesses of the state. I am very encouraged to move this project forward.

The Legislature has allowed our office to create uniformity in the fees charged to corporations and limited liability companies. It also enables our office to provide a fee for expedited services rendered through “One-Stop.“ These voluntary fees for expedited services are currently in place in 31 states, and will allow us to move at the speed of business.


Increasing transparency and eliminating waste:

In the first days of taking office, our Business and Licensing experts presented to me a burdensome procedure for repackaging and re-mailing undeliverable Service of Process filings to circuit courts, which resulted in our office spending around $27,000 in added costs to taxpayers. We developed a change in code streamlining the inefficient process.

House Bill 2767 was drafted by our office, introduced by lead sponsor Delegate John O’Neal, and passed the House of Delegates 98-0 and the Senate 34-0 to eliminate this inefficient process. In discussions with parties involved in the June 2017 flood recovery, our office was made aware of issues of sole proprietors operating under “fictitious names” that do not get registered in a searchable public location. This created problems for flood victims that were looking for reliable help in a hurry, but could not verify a business name.

In conjunction with the county Clerks Association, we drafted legislation that would have all sole proprietors file in the Secretary of State’s Office and we would create a uniform database to search all registered sole proprietors in West Virginia. State Senator Craig Blair took the lead on the bill and it passed 34-0 in the Senate and 96-0 in the House of Delegates.


Elections updates:

  • For elections held past the beginning of July in 2017, the electioneering prohibition near a polling location will exist for election day voting locations and now also for early voting locations;
  • Legislators now have additional disclosure requirements on fundraising activities during legislative session;
  • Judicial races will be placed on the ballot along with their respective districts of state and county elections

We accomplished a great deal of work in a 60-day session. Of course, there is much to be done in perfecting a fair elections process, to do the work of our state and to grow our economy by lifting the bureaucracies from business. I am looking forward to taking on these tasks to move West Virginia forward.

Mac Warner
WV Secretary of State

The Long Road to ‘Iowa’

The Free Press WV

At one point during the budget debate last month, Governor Justice recoiled against any budget compromise that included deep budget cuts.  Justice used one of his now famous metaphors to make his point.

“It doesn’t make one hill of beans of sense to me to say ‘you like the desert, and I like Alaska, so we’re going to end up in Iowa.’ Let’s only end up in Iowa if that’s the right place to end up,” he said.

Well, ten days after the end of the regular session of the Legislature (including one additional day to work on the budget), we’re nowhere near a hospitable gathering of the Governor, the Senate and the House in Des Moines.

However, there are at least some road maps that might just lead them there.

The Justice administration and Senate leaders are coalescing around a framework for a budget. The plan, which was unveiled in the final hours of the regular session, includes a lot of what the Governor wants—additional revenue from a sales tax increase, a commercial activities tax and temporary wealth tax, higher fuel taxes and DMV fees to build roads and a pay raise for classroom teachers.

The Senate side of the deal includes a modification of the state income tax, reducing the current five tiers to three and lowering of the rates when certain fiscal benchmarks are met with the possibility of eliminating the tax eventually. Senate supporters believe lowering the income tax will lead to economic growth.

But that route toward a deal doesn’t even show up on the navigation system of House Speaker Tim Armstead. The Kanawha County Republican has told the Justice administration and Senate leaders time and again that higher taxes are a non-starter in the House, even if they are accompanied by possible income tax reductions.

But Justice’s team, while negotiating with Armstead, believes there could be an avenue toward agreement—the House Democrats.  Justice is trying to rally support among the 36 Democrats to get behind the Justice/Senate plan. He’s reportedly going to make his pitch to them today.

The Dems will need some convincing. They don’t want to be out front on tax increases without Republican support, fearing that will be used against them in the next election. The Democrats need assurances of a significant number of Republicans.

So here’s the question: How many House Republicans, if any, would be willing to defy their Speaker and support the Justice/Senate plan?  The Governor said last week that some Republicans called to urge him to veto the Republican-passed budget (he did), suggesting they might be open to another pathway.

We know the House Republican caucus is not unified—the breakdown over medical marijuana demonstrated that—but it’s difficult to predict how many members the Justice administration could pick up by lobbying individuals.

To continue with the Governor’s metaphor, for now Iowa remains a long distance away.  It will be challenging, but not impossible, to get there.

Could the Education Department’s Days Be Numbered?

If this congresswoman gets her way, the days of federal education regulations are over.
The Free Press WV

U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx wants the federal Department of Education to disappear. She wants Washington to stop passing down rules and regulations schools have to follow.

As the new chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, the seven-term North Carolina congresswoman has a powerful forum to talk about all that.

Trouble is, she probably doesn’t have the votes to do much of what she wants. It takes 60 to get most legislation through the Senate, where Republicans control only 52 seats, and she’s up against a powerful education lobby that resists sweeping change in federal policy.

She’s trying. Foxx, who helped lead the writing of the 2016 Republican Party platform and served in House leadership, figures she’ll have to dilute Education Department power bit by bit. Already, she’s championing the use of a rare legislative tactic in Congress to eliminate some Obama administration regulations.

And Foxx is putting pressure on her colleagues in Congress to write the sort of legislation she wants, contending that some past laws were written sloppily and left too much leeway for federal departments to fill in gaps with rules and regulations.

Any federal educational policies, she told McClatchy in an interview, should come from lawmakers–not bureaucrats.

“We’ve got some good laws in place–let Congress do its oversight,” she said. “Sometimes doing nothing from the federal level is good.”

Foxx and her Republican congressional allies have a new favored tool for walking back regulations: the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn specific federal rules and regulations and prevent them from coming back up.

This year was the first time a Congressional Review Act was used to override an education regulation, and Congress has already overturned two of them.

One imposed a template on states under a requirement to submit detailed school-accountability plans to the federal Education Department. The other required states to build a rating system for local teacher education programs, including judging teacher preparation based on student performance.

Sure enough, Foxx stood beside President Donald Trump in March as he signed those Congressional Review Acts into law, repealing both regulations.

Democrats dislike tearing up Obama-era education regulations.

“The federal government needs to require certain things. … If you don’t have some (regulations), the law won’t get implemented,” said Representative Alma Adams, D-N.C., who sits on the House education committee.

Specifically, Adams says the Congressional Review Act rolling back regulations associated with the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act inhibits the Education Department’s ability to make sure states help low-performing schools–something the state accountability plans would address.

Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, the top Democrat on the House education committee, has also criticized the swift repeal of the accountability rule, saying it creates confusion for local education officials, who had been working on their state plans since last year.

But Foxx, who served on Watauga County’s school board for 12 years before joining Congress in 2005, wants decision-making left to states and local school districts.

“The closer you are to what’s happening, the more likely there is to be self-correction,” she said. “I want to devolve as much as possible to the localities and to the states.”

The National Governors Association–which has 33 Republican governors on its membership roll this year–supported Republicans in Congress using Congressional Review Acts to roll back education rules, saying the federal regulations attempt to usurp local power.

Others, like U.S. Representative David Price, D-N.C., worry that Congressional Review Acts move too quickly through Congress without much debate.

“It’s a scattershot process that so far, anyway, has not been accompanied by very much in the way of hearings or getting input from stakeholders,” he said.

Democrats in Congress will have limited power as Foxx and other conservatives look for a reset at the Education Department. Foxx said she’d found an ally in Secretary Betsy DeVos.

As things unfold, Foxx’s simple advice to DeVos has been: “You can start with: Don’t do anything.”

Rules, regulations and “dear colleague” letters from the department in the past incensed Foxx. Too often, she said, federal departments use regulations or executive power to distort legislative intent.

“We’re gonna stop this foolishness of letters and then people saying, ‘I’ve got to do this.’ Where is the authority for that? There’s no authority, but the school systems are scared,” she said.

With DeVos, it’s unlikely the Education Department needs Foxx’s urging to lay off the rules and regulations. Before DeVos was confirmed, Trump invoked a government-wide regulatory freeze and DeVos herself has said she plans to run a limited-government department.

Still, Foxx promises she’ll scrutinize executive actions and department-level authority in Trump’s administration.

“I want to show our Democrat colleagues we’re just as concerned about that in a Republican administration as in a Democrat administration,” she said.

Chances are, though, Foxx won’t reach her most cherished goal: to abolish the Education Department.

The conservative drumbeat to get rid of the department or strip its power has been around for decades, starting with President Ronald Reagan, who campaigned on eliminating the department just a year after it was created.

This spring, Congress will consider Trump’s pitch to cut the Education Department’s funding by $3 billion, or 13.5 percent. The decision on spending, though, is not up to Foxx’s committee, but to the House and Senate Appropriations panels.

“It seems unlikely there will be cuts at the magnitude he proposed,” said Ed Lorenzen, a senior adviser at the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget who’s a former Capitol Hill staffer for two House Democrats.

Any shift of money away from traditional public schools will be met with resistance from powerful groups like the American Federation of Teachers, a labor union for educators and school employees that supports Democratic campaigns and candidates.

Federation President Randi Weingarten said Trump’s 2018 budget proposal “eviscerates public education.” Trump looks to cut money for after-school programs, professional development for teachers and college-prep programs for low-income students.

“This is taking a meat cleaver to the investments that are done to level the playing field for Americans who are not rich. This is not about giving locals more control,” Weingarten said.

Conservatives in North Carolina say there’s an appetite for reducing the federal role in the classroom.

“The primacy of federal influence and authority seems out of proportion, especially when you consider only 11 percent of all public school funds in North Carolina are provided by the federal government,” said Bob Luebke, a senior policy analyst with Civitas, a N.C.-based conservative think tank.

Foxx’s big idea? Which is highly unlikely to happen: Stop collecting federal taxes for education.

“I’d get rid of the Department of Education if I could,” she said. “But we cannot just devolve things without allowing (states) to have the money. … If we’re still hauling that money in up here, we haven’t solved the problem.”

~~  Anna Douglas,  McClatchy ~~

Justice Signs Medical Cannabis Act

Legislation will help terminally ill patients in WV

Governor was joined by Senator Ojeda, Senator Woelfel, Delegate Mike Pushkin, and members of the Legislature

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice signed the Medical Cannabis Act (Senate Bill 386). The Governor was joined for the bill signing by two of the initiative’s primary supporters, Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha), as well as Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) and Dr. Rahul Gupta the State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health.

The Governor also praised Delegate Michael Folk for his bravery to stand up and let the people’s voice be heard on the floor of the House of Delegates.


West Virginia is now the 29th state to allow the medical use of cannabis.

“West Virginians are compassionate people and this law will help our neighbors who are struggling with illness,” said Governor Jim Justice. “This is a bipartisan effort and I want to thank Senator Ojeda, Senator Woelfel, Delegate Pushkin, and Delegate Folk for leading the charge to get this done. The people were heard loud and clear on this bill.”

Governor Justice added, “How could you turn your back on a loved one who is suffering? This is a vehicle for our doctors to help the people.”

The legislation will allow seriously ill West Virginians to use and access medical cannabis for treatment. Patients will need to have a written certification from their doctor to use medical cannabis. Under the law, West Virginians must register with the health department to purchase medical cannabis from regulated dispensaries. Patients will be able to access the treatment in different forms, including: pills, oils, creams, ointments, gels, tinctures, and liquid.

Terminally ill patients, given one year or less to live, will be eligible for medical cannabis. In addition, cannabis can be prescribed to West Virginians suffering from chronic health conditions, for example Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, and cancer.​​​

G-OpEd™: Tremendous Victories Require Continued Vigilance

An op-ed by WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

The Free Press WV

Over the past few months, West Virginia has experienced a tremendous amount of success in beating back years of federal overreach that have devastated many in our state.

One of the greatest victories involved my office leading a coalition of 27 states and state agencies against the so-called Clean Power Plan, put in place by the Obama Administration to effectively kill coal – the lifeblood of so many families and communities in our state.

Together, we stopped the Power Plan in its tracks with a historic and unprecedented victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. We also mounted a vigorous challenge to the job-killing Obama regulations that attempted to kill new power plants, stymie oil and natural gas production and regulate a property owner’s roadside ditch as a “water of the United States.”

The Constitution and the laws of the United States provide no authority for unelected bureaucrats to enact this type of control over states and citizens. That’s why our office joined with like-minded attorneys general from across the nation. We successfully stopped these regulations and our efforts built a bridge to a better day.

We applaud President Trump’s swift action to unravel this mess of federal overreach, however, now is not the time to rest on our laurels.

I fully expect the opposition to fight back, but this battle won’t be fought any longer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – it will be waged by states such as California, New York and Massachusetts.  They will try to replicate our success in suing the federal government and undo the good we have done.

Our batting average taking on federal overreach is strong. My office led the way to stop the Power Plan, which amounted to a radical transformation of the EPA from serving as an environmental regulator into a central energy planning authority aimed at devastating coal communities and those who depend upon coal’s future.

We also stopped the Waters of the United States rule that gave the federal government unprecedented control over small streams, farms and private property in a land grab focused on areas where water may flow once every 100 years. In addition, we forced reconsideration of a methane emissions regulation for natural gas producers, which places oil and natural gas in the federal government’s crosshairs under the guise of environmental protection.

There will continue to be naysayers and people who disagree – people who would call these successes failures or say we are going in the wrong direction, but West Virginians know better.

We are winning, but we need to remain in a position to move forward, aggressively marching on and into the next battle – whatever it may be. At a minimum, we need to stop our opponents from preventing the successful repeal or reconsideration of these onerous rules.

But to continue to prevail, we need adequate funding to fix the mess the Obama Administration left behind. We won’t keep winning unless we are fully equipped and prepared to continue advocating for West Virginia’s interests.

With President Trump in office, I have faith that we can stop the federal bureaucracy from running roughshod over our state as it has in recent years. But that alone is not enough.

We must keep the faith, press forward and continue to do everything in our power to help West Virginia reach her full potential.

Trump’s Five Worst Tax Secrets, Revealed

The Free Press WV

Thousands of demonstrators marched on Saturday to demand that Donald Trump release his tax returns. But, barring an unexpected surprise – a W2 form issued by Vladimir Putin, or a 1099 from mafia boss Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno – we already know Trump’s ugliest tax secrets. We will reveal those secrets…

… right after this break.

Many readers will recognize this reference to Rachel Maddow’s televised release of Trump’s 2005 tax return, The MSNBC host kept her viewers in suspense for a total of 84 minutes before learning that Trump paid an effective federal tax rate of 24 percent that year. That was considered an anticlimax. It even led some observers that Trump might have leaked the return himself, since many people had assumed that Trump hadn’t paid any federal taxes at all for years.

That gets us to Trump’s first terrible tax secret: his tax return for that year was not unusual. Few wealthy individuals pay the official rate, which is currently 39.5 percent, even though the rich have never been richer at any point in this country’s history. Mitt Romney, for instance, released a tax return during his presidential run, which showed he paid just over 14 percent in 2011, and that year may have been chosen because others were even more embarrassing.

Over the years, lobbyists have worked to fill the tax code with giveaways for wealthy individuals and corporations. The resulting loopholes make it very rare for any individual or corporation, no matter how prosperous, to pay anything close to the top rate.

Given the eagerness of the rich to avoid paying their official rate, you might think that rate is excessive. But the top marginal tax rate in this country is much lower than it’s been for most of the last century, despite today’s extreme concentration of wealth at the top:

The Free Press WV
Source: IRS.GOV

Although the official rate is only slightly more than one-third of its highest levels, an entire industry has been formed to help the wealthy avoid paying it. (This story shines a light on one small corner of that industry.)  As James Kwak points out, Warren Buffett – who uses his vast wealth for philanthropic purposes, unlike Trump – takes advantage of today’s tax code on a much larger scale than Trump does.

Trump’s second terrible tax secret is one he shares with the entire Republican Party: Instead of being grateful toward the country that has allowed them to accumulate such wealth, Trump and the GOP are willing to let people die for an additional tax cut.  They were willing to deprive millions of people of health insurance in order to repeal a 3.8 percent tax on investment income and a tax of less than one percent on high wages.

Trump’s third tax secret? The attack on the Affordable Care Act is just the start of tax clawbacks. His tax plan represents a massive tax giveaway to his billionaire friends and associates, and to corporations that are also paying far less than their official tax rate. Americans for Tax Fairness examine the injustice behind Trump’s tax plan, including the fact that it would raise taxes on roughly 9 million families while lowering the top tax rate even more.

The Trump/GOP assault on the estate tax, for instance, is a giveaway to America’s aristocracy>. Trump’s even trying to eliminate the biggest tax he pays personally – the alternative minimum tax.

The fourth secret is this: Trump and his party don’t believe in progressive taxation at all. As I wrote recently, Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney recently suggested that he preferred to let the ultra-wealthy “keep their money” – an extremist and inaccurate framing that is well outside the mainstream of both Republican and Democratic thought over the last century. They especially dislike the idea of taxing billionaires to help people in need.

That’s pretty terrible.

The fifth and final secret is this: Trump and his billionaire friends get away with paying low or no taxes because the rich have far too much influence over our political system. In fact, as political scientists Martin Gilens and Lawrence Page found in a 2014 study, “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

In other words, the wealthy in our country almost always get the policies they want.

In a response to their critics, Gilens and Page wrote, “The affluent are, not surprisingly, (even) better at blocking policies they dislike than achieving policy change they desire. When a policy is strongly opposed by the affluent… that policy is adopted only 4 percent of the time.”

That’s why today’s tax code is so excessively favorable to the wealthy and corporations. It’s very difficult to make changes they dislike, and tax increases for the wealthy are certainly among the changes they dislike the most.

But that’s no reason to quit. Americans have overthrown oligarchies before, most notably at the end of the era Mark Twain described as “the Gilded Age.” We are, by any reasonable definition, going through a second Gilded Age today.

You don’t need Donald Trump’s tax returns to know that we need a more just tax system, one that calls upon the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. What’s more, the fight for fair taxation is inseparable from the fight against oligarchical wealth. That’s more reason to keep fighting.

Donald Trump tweeted that “someone should look into who paid for” the “small” rallies demanding that he release his tax returns.

The real question is, who pays for all the tax breaks that are given to people like Donald Trump?

The answer is, we all do.

~~  Richard Eskow ~~


04.18.2017
NewsUnited StatesOpinions | Commentary | G-LtE™ | G-Comm™ | G-OpEd™Politics | Government | ElectionUSA(1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

The fix could be simple. First, everyone pay 10 percent federal, 3 percent state, and 1 percent local taxes on all income.  Straight forward, no arguments, taken from pay checks and paid to the proper authorities (that is if we can get good ones elected that will use the money properly for education, infrastructure, defense, aid for the true disabled/welfare, etc).  Second, there are no deductions(sorry accountants).  Third, no taxes on corporations so they are free to reinvest into their business and hire more people to work(that is if you can find qualified people not on drugs these days).  Fourth, get people off government support that don’t belong there(sorry again druggies and lazies).  Now if you find someone taking advantage of the current tax laws, don’t blame them for wanting to keep their own money.  That’s correct, their money, not yours. We have elected the people and keep doing that who make these laws.  The Clinton’s and the Bush’s and the Kennedy’s, life long politicians.  If you get rich being a politician, then you need to go.  At least Trump got rich first and then became a politician.  Sort of did it backwards didn’t he.  Each and every person that wants Trump to produce his tax returns, it is time for all of them to produce theirs.  The world is full of them.  Me, I can care less what he makes.  Good for him.  Good for me.  Get over it, the left lost the election, just like the right did 8 years ago.  The reason Trump is president is because the last 8 years the left didn’t get it done and Clinton was a horrible candidate.  Too much baggage and ran a horrible campaign also.  I think she thought she couldn’t lose but she did.  Now the left is acting like babies that they can be at times and it doesn’t look good.  Instead of trying to run Trump(who used to be a democrat) down, why not give him a bit of support so our country will come back stronger.  It seems the media is completely against Trump, all we see is negative articles.  Never positive articles so the media is losing support from the people.  Sorry for the long post but it is what it is.  Thanks.

By RC  on  04.18.2017

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Attorney General Morrisey Offers Tips for Planning A Trouble-Free Summer Vacation

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds consumers to be cautious when making travel plans as summertime fast approaches.

Vacationers often look toward summer as the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family, explore new places or revisit their favorite destination.

“Warmer weather gets many people thinking about summer travel,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Whether it is a theme park, a cruise or some other destination, consumers must be cautious so as to avoid any potential scams.”

To avoid falling prey to any scams, consumers should get reviews from reputable travel websites and/or family and friends. Also, remember paying with credit cards gives consumers certain protections to dispute charges.

Consumers should additionally validate physical addresses as opposed to simply clicking on a good deal. Third-party links can redirect consumers to an independent booking agency that charges additional fees.

Additional tips include:

  • Be wary of any company that asks for payment via money order or pre-paid debit card.

  • Be wary of ads that offer a luxurious vacation for a minimal price and ads that provide few details. 

  • Be cautious of firms that ask for payment before confirming reservations. Most reputable travel agents will confirm before payment.

  • Deal with established companies.  Check with friends, family or other resources if the name or reputation is not familiar.

  • Know cancellation and refund policies.

  • Keep a close eye on banking statements during and following travel.

  • Be wary of vacation offers that are “good today only.”

  • The better a vacation package sounds, the more important it is to verify the details.

Consumers with questions can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1.800.368.8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304.267.0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

Governor and First Lady Justice Announce Plans For Annual Easter Carnival

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice announced plans for the 2017 Easter Carnival on Saturday, April 15, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the North Plaza of the State Capitol Complex.

“Cathy and I are looking forward to continuing this annual Easter tradition, and we hope West Virginians from across the state will plan to join us to kick off the spring season in the Mountain State,” Governor Justice said. “We have planned a day full of fun, family-friendly activities, including the seventh annual A. James Manchin Memorial Marble Tournament at the Culture Center.”

“Jim and I invite West Virginians of all ages to join us for this fun-filled celebration of the season,” First Lady Justice said. “The State Capitol is the perfect place for families to gather and enjoy the holiday in a unique and fun way . We look forward to continuing this wonderful tradition, and we hope that this year’s Easter Carnival will be the biggest one yet.”

The North Plaza of the State Capitol Complex will be transformed into an Easter Carnival complete with games, prizes, crafts, food and an appearance by the Easter Bunny.  The event is free of charge and open to the public. Door prizes for children 12 years old and under will be awarded at noon. 

Immediately following the Easter Carnival, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will host the seventh annual A. James Manchin Memorial Marble Tournament.  For more information about the tournament, contact Chris Reed, cultural program specialist for the Division, at 304.558.0220 x 185.

Our Fight for Health Care During Recess and Beyond

The Free Press WV

It’s time to ramp up our resistance to the Trump-Ryan agenda on health care. We scored our biggest legislative victory so far on March 24, when Speaker Paul Ryan called off his bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), because he didn’t have the votes. This was an inspiring, hard-fought win for everyone who believes health care is for all.

But Republican leaders in Congress are still gunning for our health care; their radical plans for our economy leave them no choice. Without gutting healthcare and other essential economic benefits, how else will they pay for the massive tax giveaway for corporations and billionaires that they’ve set their sights on?

During Resistance Recess, now until April 23, as lawmakers visit their home districts, we will let them know we’re still fighting to make sure everyone in the country gets the care they need.

Twenty thousand members of People’s Action, MoveOn.org, the Center for Popular Democracy, the Working Families Party and others gathered on a conference call April 9 to strategize with Reps. Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee and other progressive leaders. Is there strength in numbers? You bet.

Why is this urgent? Last week, the Trump administration and House GOP leaders were scrambling to revive the health care repeal legislation by trading away protections for people with preexisting conditions to appease the far right. They didn’t get a vote on the bill before heading home for congressional recess, but we can be sure that gutting health care is still on their minds, and still a top priority.

Proposals like block-granting Medicaid or privatizing Medicare aren’t just about pushing people off good, government-guaranteed health care into an uncertain market – though that’s certainly bad enough. These proposals are also designed to take resources from working and poor families in order to hand ever more wealth to corporations and the rich.

The stalled Trump-Ryan health care repeal would have forced 24 million people off health care to make way for $600 billion in tax giveaways largely for corporations and the rich. If that tax break is huge, the tax reform giveaways that Donald Trump has proposed come in at a jaw-dropping $6 trillion – ten times the amount of the health repeal tax giveaway.

So they’ll be looking for more places to cut, which is why health care will loom large in the upcoming showdowns over the federal budget and taxes, where food, housing, and the other essentials for survival will also be at stake.

This will all play out in the upcoming tax and budget battles that will extend through the summer and beyond. The first round will come on April 28, when the continuing resolution that’s keeping the government funded in 2017 expires. Then Congress will turn to the fiscal year 2018 budget and hammering out the tax plan.

And, to complicate matters, while the tax and budget fight is underway we need to stay alert for any attempts to pump life back into health repeal. There’s also the possibility that Congress and the administration will try to make their misinformation about ACA implosion come true by sabotaging the underpinnings of the system. One avenue would involve stopping payments to insurers that lower deductibles and other cost-sharing for 58 percent of those enrolled in ACA coverage. Refusing these payments would be a big blow to the 7.1 million people who receive the support, and it also could prompt insurers to withdraw from ACA markets.

These details aside, the fight is clear. We can start guaranteeing an essential quality of life for all, or we can drive further inequality and corporate power. While your members of Congress are home for recess, tell them to stand on the right side of this choice.

Here are some ways they can start doing just that:

Protect our public health insurance programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, from any cuts or changes that would mean less care or more expensive care. Instead of cutting these programs, we should expand them to begin to serve the real need.

Reject any legislation that would penalize people for having a preexisting condition, cut essential health benefits such as prescription drugs, or let insurance corporations put caps on our care.

Open public options for coverage in every state so insurance corporations like Anthem can’t hold us hostage, especially in rural and less-populated counties.

Make our health care stronger by making it more affordable and less profit-driven. We can start by negotiating lower prices with drug corporations.

Oppose any tax plan that would result in corporations, hedge funds, and the rich contributing less in taxes than they do now. Our economy is already too unequal.

Support a budget that protects and expands the basic rights of people, families, and communities to thrive. This means ensuring that all people get the health care, food, housing, and other essentials that form the basis of just and democratic society.

What can you do? Join our fight. Visit the Resistance Recess website to find an event in your area, or organize one of your own. We can win!

~~  Sarah Warner ~~

Caution During Last-Minute Tax Filing

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds consumers to take their time filling out tax information in order to avoid any missteps as the April 18 filing deadline quickly approaches.

“Many people don’t file taxes until the end of the season,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It’s always better to take your time than rush and make a mistake when dealing with such sensitive information.”

Mistakes made this week can turn into potential headaches down the road.

The Attorney General advises consumers to follow some simple steps to avoid any last-minute mistakes:

  • File electronically. It’s time efficient, safer and ensures a faster tax refund.
  • Double check information. 
  • If mailing a tax return, double check the federal and state mailing addresses at IRS.gov and tax.wv.gov. 
  • Make sure to validate the legitimacy of any tax preparer or tax filing service.
  • Shred any discarded documents that contain personal information. Doing so makes it harder for thieves to steal information.
  • Be aware of scammers who claim to be IRS representatives as they request personal information. Scammers often make these requests with threat of arrest or lawsuit, but consumers should not comply.

Questions can be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800.368.8808 or 304.267.0239 in Martinsburg. To file a report online, go to www.wvago.gov.

Public Called to Weigh In on WV State Budget

The end of the regular legislative session has set the stage for a fight over West Virginia’s state budget – a battle organizers say might be settled by public opinion.
The Free Press WV

At the last moment, the State Legislature passed a budget with deep cuts to to Medicaid and to K-12 and higher education. Now community groups are saying the voices of West Virginians are going to be vital to resolving the state’s budget standoff.

The Republican leadership of both the House and Senate backed the bill, but Governor Jim Justice is likely to veto it. He favors a plan that would raise revenue from a temporary tax on businesses, as well as broader and higher sales taxes.

Tara Martinez, an organizer with the coalition Protect WV, said which plan wins out may depend on public opinion.

“Visit with our legislators, write letters, write op-eds, call,” Martinez said. “That is going to be crucial. We as citizens really want a budget that has vision and growth in mind.“

Martinez said the Legislature should be back in session in about two weeks to hash out a tax and spending plan. In the meantime, she said there’s a page on the Protect WV website where folks can enter their address and their comments or opinions - which are then sent automatically to the correct lawmakers for their district.

The differing budget plans represent deep philosophical differences about how the state should address its huge budget shortfall.

The GOP majority in the Legislature argues that smaller government with lower taxes would bring faster economic and job growth. But after years of budget cuts, Martinez said she thinks it’s time to invest in education and infrastructure.

She said even the head of the state Chamber of Commerce and a large faction of West Virginia business owners accept the governor’s temporary business tax.

“They know, being business-oriented folks, that it’s time for them to make investments,” Martinez said. “We’re at a crucial point in the state, where it’s sink or swim. So, they are willing to give a little more, as long as everyone’s giving.“

A poll by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy before the legislative session began found that 70 percent of voters in the state favored higher taxes to pay for investments in education, infrastructure and workforce development.

Glenville City Council Meeting Minutes

The Free Press WV
GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES
March 06, 2017
7:00 p.m.

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Fitzpatrick with Council members Wiant, Taylor, Walters, and Fisher present. Councilwoman Huffman was absent.


Pledge of Allegiance

 

Led by the Boy Scout Troop


I. Call to Order


II. Public

 

None


A. Approval of Minutes – February 06, 2017

 

Minutes for the February 06, 2017, meeting were reviewed and placed on file for audit.


III. Reports


B. Financial

 

The budget is currently at 68.21% of fiscal year with revenue at 77.74% and expenditures at 62.00%. The book keeper requested a transfer of funds to the following:

 

$9000 from 700 - Police Dept to 750 - Street Dept

 

$6200 from 699 - Contingency Fund to 410 – City Council ($3000) and 413 – Treasurers Office ($3200)

 

$1000 – Coal Severance to 916 – Library

 

Councilwoman Taylor made a motion to approve the transfer of funds. Councilman Walters seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The budget workshop went well and the new budget will be submitted to the State Auditor’s office for approval. Council will meet on April 18 to Lay the Levy.

 

Councilman Walters made a motion to approve the financial report as presented. Councilman Wiant seconded the motion. Motion passed.


C. Street report

 

Mayor Fitzpatrick provided the street report and noted the workers installed the LED lights in the stoplight.


D. Police

 

Chief Huffman provided the police report to council. He requested executive session to discuss personnel matters.

 

Council will go into executive session at the end of the meeting.


E. Glenville Utility

 

Mayor Fitzpatrick attended the February 28 meeting.

 

There were three (3) service line leaks that were repaired.

 

On sewer side, the new pump installation was completed at the lift station at Fitzwater’s on Rt. 5E.

 

There was approximately 300 ft. slip behind Western Auto and the pipe was replaced.


F. Recorder

 

Nothing to report.


G. Mayors Comments


- Update Municipal Ordinance Penalty Phase

Still in progress


- City Wide Clean Up – April 08

Make It Shine is scheduled for April 08 at 9:00 a.m.

 

Volunteers will meet at the football field and cover the city limits.

 

This will take approximately 2 hours.

 

The GSC football team will volunteer.


- Pi 5K Run 9:00 a.m. – (Route may change) Saturday March 18th

There will be a change in route for 5K run due to the bridge being out on Sycamore.

 

They will begin at the WACO center to Sycamore Road and return.


- Update on Camp Workers

Lost 2 camp workers last fall. Now have a new worker with hope to get a second worker.

 

Mayor has sent a letter to FCI-Gilmer requesting second worker.


- Laying of Levy April 18th

Council will meet to Lay the Levy on Tuesday, April 18, at 6:00 p.m.


- Resolution (guardrails installed on Route 5 going East)

The resolution was read on behalf of the citizens in Gilmer County that Glenville City Council supports this idea.

 

Mayor Fitzpatrick signed the resolution.

Councilman Wiant made a motion to move into executive session at 7:11 p.m. Councilman Fisher seconded the motion. Motion passed.

 

Councilman Wiant made a motion for council to move out of executive session at 7:27 p.m. Councilwoman Taylor seconded the motion. Motion passed.

 

Councilman Walters made a motion to approve Chief Huffman to hire Mr. Gandy as the new police officer. Councilwoman Taylor seconded the motion. Motion passed.

 

Councilwoman Taylor made a motion to approve Chief Huffman to participate in Drug Take-back Day. Councilman Wiant seconded the motion. Motion passed.


IV. Unfinished Business

 

None


V. New Business

 

Councilman Wiant asked about the River Clean Up project through grant money. He suggested trees under the bridge would be a good area to clean up and noted the project should start this week. Mayor Fitzpatrick will talk with Eric Squires.

 

Councilman Walters asked about the decision for the River Street property. It had been previously suggested to become a community garden and Mayor Fitzpatrick would like to continue with this.

 

Councilman Wiant understood the walkway on old bridge is scheduled for possible repair.


VI. Other Business to come before Council

 

None


VII. Next council meeting

 

April 03, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

 

Meeting to Lay the Levy – Tuesday, April 18, at 6:00 p.m.


VIII. Adjourn

Meeting adjourned at 7:32 p.m.

___________________________

Join The Resistance: Resistance Recess Starts This Weekend

The Free Press WV

After hearing from We the People, the Republican Congress didn’t take away our health care after all! Lesson learned: keep it up.

So many people have been calling their representative and senators, showing up at their offices and especially at their town hall meetings, and it is having an effect. It tells Republicans not to follow through on the destructive Trump agenda, and it tells Democrats they have support when they resist Trump and fight for We the People.


Resistance Recess April 07 to 23

Members of Congress are leaving Washington and heading home for their “spring break” recess from April 7 to 23. Many of them will be holding town halls, where you and others can ask questions, express your views and otherwise do your job of holding your representative and senators accountable face-to-face. Elected officials too chicken to hold town halls still have offices you can visit – you and maybe a few hundred of your best friends, that is.

On top of that, people are organizing their own “constituent town halls” in places where their representative and senators are hiding or only meeting with big-money donors and lobbyists. This lets the local news media and pubic know that their elected officials are hiding from them.

MoveOn.org, People’s Action and other organizations are calling this recess period, when members of Congress come home from April 07 to 23, the Resistance Recess. This is an opportunity to be seen and to make your voice be heard.

Attending local events makes a big, national difference and this is your chance to get involved.

Click here to find a Resistance Recess event near you. You can also organize an event if there isn’t one already planned in your area.

The Indivisible Guide Town Hall Project also has an event list, click here. Take a look at the Indivisible Guide, which goes into detail on town hall best practices and other ways to hold your elected representatives accountable.


Tax March April 15

Right in the middle of the Resistance Recess, on April 15, there will be a big “Tax March” in Washington, DC. And there will also be lots of April 15 Tax March events around the country.

We the People will be demanding that “President” Trump release his tax returns and come clean about his business dealings. He is the first president in four decades to refuse to release his taxes. What is he hiding? How is he making money off of his job as “president?” Is he violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause by receiving foreign payments? What is he hiding behind layers of “shell” companies?

Don’t let him get away with this grift and graft. Go to TaxMarch.org to learn about the big Washington, DC march, or scroll down to see local Tax March activities you can join.


Organizing Call

This Sunday, MoveOn, Indivisible, The Working Families Party, People’s Action, and The Center for Popular Democracy will host a Ready to Resist Emergency Conference Call to get ready for these recess actions. Click here to RSVP for this call.


We Can Make A Difference

We the People can still make a difference — if we show up. We must #resist the takeover of our government by the corporatists, oligarchs and far-right, racist weirdos who have illegitimately seized power. We can win this, we can restore democracy, we can regain control of the levers of power — but only if we get involved, get organized and show up.

~~  Dave Johnson ~~

ED Programs Set To Lose Another $3 Billion

A plan to fund defense spending would eliminate billions more from the federal education budget for the rest of this fiscal year
The Free Press WV

Donald Trump is asking Congress to cut almost $3 billion from the federal education budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, according to a document obtained by Politico.

The memo offers an in-depth look at some of the proposed cuts and program eliminations.

These latest cuts are in addition to next year’s proposed budget, which would see $9 million slashed from the U.S. Department of Education.

The cuts are intended to increase military spending and finance the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congress must pass a plan to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year to avoid a partial government shut-down. As Bloomberg News reports, Congress is likely to reject the White House’s additional proposed budget cuts, which total nearly $18 million in all, making the prospect of a shutdown all the more real.

The proposed additional cuts would cut $1.3 billion from this year’s Pell grant surplus–this is on top of the cuts proposed for next year.

Title II, Part A funding, which helps ensure teacher and principal quality and preparedness through PD programs, would be cut in half this year. As previously reported, Trump’s FY 2018 budget would eliminate the program entirely.

“This program provides formula grants to States to improve instruction and reduce class sizes,” the document states. “Funding is poorly targeted and supports practices that are not evidence-based. Other funding at ED can be used to support improved instruction.”

The Striving Readers program, which helps fund literacy instruction in low-income schools, also faces elimination. “A recent study found that more than half of the reading interventions used by grantees had no effects on student achievement. Also, other funding at ED (e.g. Title I grants) can be used to support literacy instruction,” according to the document.

Under President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 education budget, school choice would receive a massive $1.4 billion while the Education Department undergoes a $9 billion, or 13 percent, cut.

Overall, the proposed education budget cuts the Education Department’s budget from $68 million to $59 billion.

Title I funds would receive a $1 billion increase, but the funds would follow individual students should they decide to change schools.

IDEA funding for programs that support students with special needs and disabilities would remain stable at $13 billion.

In a statement, AFT President Randi Weingarten said the proposed education budget “takes a meat cleaver to public education.”

~~  Laura Ascione ~~

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