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The Legislature Today - February 28, 2013

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Legislators Embrace 2nd Amend

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You might call this the Second Amendment session of the West Virginia Legislature.

Proposals in Washington for more gun control following the Sandy Hook massacre of 24 children and six adults have prompted a push back by gun rights advocates.  They have flooded the capitol with legislation protecting gun ownership.

I counted over two dozen bills before I gave up.

Here’s just a sampling:

HB 2504 that says “any federal law which attempts to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm or other limitation on firearms in the state shall be unenforceable in West Virginia.”

HB 2580 is another version of that bill, but it adds that anyone who tries to infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms is guilty of a felony and can be sent to jail for two years and fined $10,000.

SB 68 is called the West Virginia Firearms Freedom Act.  It exempts any firearm or ammunition that is manufactured in West Virginia and stays in WV from being subject to federal regulation including registration.  There is a corresponding House bill.

There are bills in the Senate and the House that say the government cannot take away your guns or ammo during a declared state of emergency.

HB 2294 protects the lawful transport and storage of firearms in private vehicles.

HB 2390 allows a teacher with a valid license to carry a concealed weapon on school property “for the protection of students and school employees if the county board of education approves and the person has passed a drug test.”

HB 2465 and 2588 provide for uniform regulation of firearms in West Virginia.  Currently Charleston and several other cities have tighter gun laws.  These bills would essentially strike down those more restrictive laws.

HB 2135 allows individuals who have a concealed weapons permit to keep loaded firearms in their vehicles on the State Capitol Complex grounds.

SB 198 Exempts magistrates and municipal court judges from the requirement of having a license to carry a concealed weapon.

And just for good measure, HB 2355 provides an exemption for “The Patriot” mascot of Parkersburg South HS to carry a musket on school grounds, but only when acting in his or her official capacity.

There are more, but you get the drift.

Some of these bills are prompted by legitimate concerns from staunch defenders of the Second Amendment.  I suspect, however, that other lawmakers relish the opportunity to have pro-gun votes on their political resumes in a state that is strongly pro-gun.

‘Finding Faith’: A Film about the Dangers of the Internet

The West Virginia State Police took part in a film that was released earlier this year and will be showing at several locations across the state in the next week.

The film is called “Finding Faith.” It’s based on actual events and the career of Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, VA. He was one of the first in the country to set up an Internet Crimes Task Force. He helped the West Virginia State Police set up theirs.

The Gilmer Free Press


Sgt. Mike Baylous with the West Virginia State Police says it was an honor for the Department to be part of a film that focuses on Internet crimes against children.

“It’s a proactive attempt to reach these children before they’re exposed to these types of crimes,” says Baylous. “What it’s designed to do is create an open conversation between parents and children and communities on the dangers of the Internet.”

Starring as Sheriff Brown is Erik Estrada, best known for his role as Frank “Ponch” Poncherello on the 70′s TV series “Chips.”

The plot focuses on a girl who befriends a man on the Internet and is abducted and taken to a home in West Virginia. That’s where you’ll see members of the West Virginia State Police portraying themselves as they help find the girl.

Baylous says while the scenes are set in West Virginia, it could just as easily have been any state in the country.

“Sometimes we think [internet predators] are a problem that’s unique to West Virginia. It’s not,” says Baylous. “It’s a worldwide problem.”

“Finding Faith” will have one of its second viewing in West Virginia on Saturday at the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane at 5pm. Estrada will be there to talk about his role and the dangers of the Internet.

To find out where you can see the film, log on to www.findingfaithfilm.com.

~~  Jennifer Smith – WVMN ~~

More WV Fisheries to Be Featured on Outdoor Channel Show

The Gilmer Free Press

“Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming”

More of West Virginia’s best fishing waters are scheduled to be showcased on episodes of the Outdoor Channel’s program, “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming.” The 2013 season premiere, which aired January 01, 2013, featured trout fishing at Pipestem Resort State Park.

“Fly Rod Chronicles” is shown each week, Tuesdays at 11:00 AM, Fridays at Noon, and Saturdays at 6:30 PM.


The schedule for the rest of this season includes these shows featuring West Virginia themes:
•      Week of March 10, 2013 – West Virginia Grand Slam

•      Week of March 17, 2013 – Cast ‘n’ Blast at Lodge of Chama (New Mexico) Part 1, featuring West Virginia coal miner Sonny Fleming

•      Week of March 24, 2013 – Cast ‘n’ Blast Part 2

•      Week of April 14, 2013 – WVU Basketball Coach Bob Huggins and his daughter Jacque fish the Potomac with Curtis and his daughter Laken; it’s a father/daughter show.

•      Week of April 28, 2013 – Eastern Panhandle Fishing

•      Week of May 05, 2013 – Cast ‘n’ Blast on the Greenbrier River

•      Week of May 12, 2013 – Elk Springs Resort (Randolph County)

The West Virginia Department of Commerce has made the state a presenting sponsor of the 2013 broadcast season of the program.

The sponsorship includes 13 original 30-minute episodes. Six shows have been or will be taped on streams, rivers or lakes in the state.

West Virginia will be integrated into the other seven shows. Primary Commerce agencies contributing to the sponsorship and show content are West Virginia Development Office, Division of Tourism and the Division of Natural Resources State Parks and Forests section.

“The show shines a national spotlight on West Virginia’s scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities,” said West Virginia Department of Commerce Cabinet Secretary Keith Burdette. “By touring our towns and talking to our people, the program will help viewers learn about the attractions, culture and heritage that make West Virginia ‘almost heaven.’”

A native of Bridgeport, WV, Fleming travels the world to find and experience the best hunting and fishing.

The Outdoor Channel is known to sportsmen across the country and around the world for its programming on all aspects of the sporting life. Now in its 10th season, “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” boasts a viewership of nearly 1 million viewers per episode.

To learn more about “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” visit www.flyrodchronicles.tv.

To find out more about West Virginia State Parks click www.wvstateparks.com.

The Legislature Today - February 27,2013

Movies This Week - 02.28.13

The Gilmer Free Press

Jack the Giant Slayer

Opens Friday, March 01, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.

PG-13 - Intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language


A young farmhand (Nicholas Hoult) gets swept into the realm of legend when he must defend his land from a seemingly unstoppable force of giant warriors.  When young farmhand Jack (Nicholas Hoult) unwittingly opens a portal between his realm and a race of giants, it rekindles an ancient war. Roaming Earth for the first time in centuries, the fearsome giants seek to reclaim the land they lost long ago. Jack has to face an army of foes that he thought existed only in legend, but through his arduous fight for the kingdom and its people, he may win the love of a brave princess, perhaps becoming a legend himself.

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor

Director: Bryan Singer

Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

 

 

The Gilmer Free Press

21 and Over

Opens Friday, March 01, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 33 min.

R - Crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking

Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what he was supposed to do. But when his two best friends Casey and Miller surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, Jeff Chang decides to do everything he wants to do for a change, even though his important medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes a night of humiliation, over indulgence and utter debauchery in this coming-of-drinking-age-comedy, from the writers of ‘The Hangover,‘ about living youth to its fullest.

Cast: Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, François Chau

Directors: Scott Moore, Jon Lucas

Genres: Comedy

 

 

The Gilmer Free Press

The Last Exorcism Part II

Opens Friday, March 01, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 29 min.

PG-13 - Horror violence, terror and brief language

Continuing where the first film left off, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Back in the relative safety of New Orleans, Nell realizes that she can’t remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning.

Cast: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, Louis Herthum

Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Genres: Horror, Suspense/Thriller

 

 

The Gilmer Free Press

Phantom

Opens Friday, March 01, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 37 min.

R – Violence

Ed Harris plays the captain of a Cold War Soviet missile submarine who has recently been suffering from seizures that alter his perception of reality. Forced to leave his wife and daughter, he is rushed into a classified mission, where he is haunted by his past and challenged by a rogue KGB group (led by David Duchovny) bent on seizing control of the ship’s nuclear missile. With the fate of humanity in his hands, Harris discovers he has been chosen for this mission in the belief he would fail. PHANTOM is a suspense submarine thriller about extraordinary men facing impossible choices.

Cast: Ed Harris, William Fichtner, David Duchovny, Lance Henriksen, Johnathon Schaech

Director: Todd Robinson

Genres: Suspense/Thriller

 

 

 

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Tomblin Holds Out on Medicaid Expansion

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Politico reports that West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is the nation’s only Democratic governor who has not supported the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the new health care law.

At least not yet.

Each state must decide whether to join or opt out of the expansion of the health care program for the poor to include people making up to 133% of the poverty level.  All but a half dozen states have decided, or are leaning one way or another.

Tomblin, however, remains non-committal even as his fellow governors choose sides, often along party lines.

“While seven Republican governors have so far bucked their party to back expansion, Tomblin has held firm,” write Kyle Cheney and Jason Millman in Politico.  “Not just firm, but silent.”

Some governors are finding it hard to resist the money.

After all, the federal government will initially pay for all new Medicaid enrollees.  However, other governors worry that when Washington begins scaling back its share—it drops to 90% in 2020—it will strain their state budgets.

Tomblin is clearly wary of the Medicaid expansion, and for good reason.

This fiscal year, West Virginia will spend $857 million in state dollars (and another $2.2 billion in federal money) to provide Medicaid coverage to about 415,000 West Virginians.  Next year, the state share will rise to close to $900 million and continue to increase in subsequent years, even before expansion.

Opting in to the Medicaid expansion means about 130,000 more people will enroll in the program.

The rate of growth in spending will accelerate starting in 2020 because of the smaller federal match.  Additionally, it’s possible that the federal share could be reduced further as Washington tries to get spending under control.

With West Virginia’s coal industry softening, Tomblin is trying to keep a tight rein on the budget.  There’s no new spending planned for next year, except for Medicaid and to keep retirement programs actuarially sound.  And Tomblin is cutting spending in some areas of government by 7.5%.

Politico reports that Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a long-time advocate of expanded government health care, is confident Tomblin will eventually come on board.

“I’ve stayed in close touch with the governor’s office through this process, and I know they are working to understand the details,” Rockefeller told Politico.  “I think at the end of the day, the numbers will show that expansion would greatly benefit West Virginians.”

Perhaps, but for now Tomblin is keeping his cards close to the vest, while his budget people try to figure out how much all this is going to cost.

The Legislature Today - February 22, 2013

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - How Cisco Can Fix Router-Gate

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John Chambers, phone home.

The Cisco Systems CEO is a loyal WVU alum.  He has donated his time and money to the University.  In 2011, Chambers donated $750,000 to WVU for cancer research.

The University is fortunate to have a graduate proclaimed as one of the most successful businessmen in the world.

But somebody in Governor Tomblin’s Administration needs to get Chambers on the phone and tell him about router-gate.

You’ve heard the story by now:

In 2010, the state used $24 million in federal stimulus money to buy 1,164 Internet routers from Cisco.  A legislative audit released earlier this month found most of the routers, which cost nearly $23,000 a piece, were way too powerful for the state’s needs.

In at least one case, the router is worth more than the tiny Marmet Public Library where it was installed to handle a single Internet connection.  Additionally, the routers won’t even work in all but two State Police barracks because they are not compatible with the phone systems.

The State Purchasing Division, the Office of Technology and the Broadband Technology Opportunity Grant Implementation Team all bear some responsibility for this bad deal.  The audit can’t seem to find anyone to claim responsibility for the final say.

Senator Joe Manchin, who was Governor at the time of the deal, has mounted a half-hearted defense of the purchase, saying it was an investment for the future.  But the audit concludes that it may cost more just to service the over-sized routers than what the state would have paid had it bought the right routers in the first place.

But, Cisco isn’t off the hook either.

The deal was done through a questionable secondary bid process that the audit determined was illegal.  Additionally, the audit found Cisco showed a “wanton indifference to the interests of the public” by up-selling the state.

My guess is that Chambers will want to do right by West Virginia.  Cisco could start by taking back the routers that are still in boxes and sending a refund.  The company could also provide the equipment necessary so the routers will work in all the State Police barracks.

Then Chambers can help the Tomblin administration get to the bottom of exactly how this deal came down. As I said before, if that person is still working for the state, he or she should be fired.

In the meantime, Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants should read the audit and see if it piques his interest.

John Chambers is a remarkable businessman. He’s taken Cisco’s annual revenues from $1 billion to $40 billion during his 18 years as CEO.  Chambers is a distinguished member of the WVU Business Hall of Fame.

He knows a bad deal when he sees one, so it won’t take long to identify this turkey and begin making it right.

WV Legislature Today - February 21, 2013

G-Comm™: Oscar Telecasts Full of Surprises, Memorable Moments

The Gilmer Free Press

Movies & More reviewer John Gillispie wonders what the most memorable moments of this year’s Oscar telecast will be when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out its annual awards.

I was starting to worry. About a week and a half ago I told a friend I was concerned that I didn’t seem very excited about this year’s Oscar telecast. And then, last Sunday with just a week to go before the ceremony, I found myself wondering what will happen, who will win and what movie history will be made.

Will Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Denzel Washington or Robert De Niro win a third Oscar? For his performance in “Lincoln,“ it seems that Daniel Day Lewis, who is nominated for Best Actor, has a great chance to win again.

Will Anne Hathaway take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “Les Miserables”? Or will Sally Field win in the same category for her amazing performance in “Lincoln”? Part of the excitement of watching the Academy Awards is that you just never know until the names of the winners are announced.

Following the coverage of the stars arriving, ABC will broadcast the Oscar ceremony beginning at 8: 30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. Seth MacFarlane will host this year’s program, and anyone who has heard MacFarlane’s work on “Family Guy” and the movie “Ted” may be curious to see how he will do.

For years now, when I write about the Oscars, I have been hoping for more movie clips to be shown from both older and more recent films. After all, this ceremony is supposed to be about the movies. It seems that the clothes being worn by the stars continue to get more and more attention each year. And while that doesn’t really bother me a lot, I wish more clips from classic movies could be shown to encourage younger people to get interested in the films that their parents and grandparents appreciated. Of course, some older films don’t hold up as well as others, but there are so many powerful performances in the history of the movies that it seems a shame not to encourage a new generation of viewers to see them.

When thinking about this year’s event, I remembered several things from Oscar telecasts of days gone by.

I recall being completely surprised when a young Anna Paquin won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in “The Piano” over Winona Ryder in “The Age of Innocence.“ It wasn’t that I didn’t think Paquin was good in “The Piano.“ I just thought that Ryder was a star who had consistently given solid performances and that she would be rewarded for her work in a beautiful movie. And another year, I remember really wanting to see Tom Hanks win the Best Actor award for “Forrest Gump” and being concerned that he might be punished for having won the Oscar the year before for “Philadelphia.“ Of course, Hanks did win.

And I can still recall the look on the face of movie legend Lauren Bacall, nominated for “The Mirror Had Two Faces,“ when she lost the Supporting Actress Oscar to Juliette Binoche for her work in “The English Patient.“ I was sad to see her lose.

When we go to the movie theater, we are supposed to watch the movie without talking. However, we can talk to one another while watching the Oscar telecast in the comfort of our living rooms and share our thoughts on the winners and the events of the evening—including the fashion. But, no matter what happens Sunday night (and I hope everyone looks great in their designer outfits), I will be wishing for movie fans to have an entertaining evening.

~~  John Gillispie - Public Relations Director for the Huntington Museum of Art ~~

G-Comm™: Hoppy’s Commentary - Teach for America Looking to WV

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In his State of the State address, Governor Tomblin talked about the difficulty West Virginia has finding qualified public school teachers, especially in math, science and foreign languages.

In fact, it’s estimated that this year as many as 600 classes have teachers who are not certified to teach that particular subject.

The Teach For America (TFA) program could help fill some of those vacancies.

TFA is a national, non-profit organization that recruits top college graduates (often from elite schools) and professionals to teach in urban and rural schools.  Corp members, who do not have teaching degrees, go through an intensive five-week training course to prepare them for the classroom where they will spend two years.

The program, which has been in existence for 22 years, has 10,000 members teaching in 46 regions of the country.

Tomblin will likely include the Teach for America program in his education reform bill.  However, he may have left that out of his State of the State speech because it’s going to be controversial.

The two teacher unions in the state, the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, are dead set against allowing TFA in here.

They worry the TFA corps members fall far short of the classroom management skills necessary to be an effective teacher.  Additionally, one teacher union leader told me it’s demeaning to have a recent college graduate dally in teaching until they find a job in their field.

The research on the effectiveness of TFA is mixed.

A 2010 study by the University of North Carolina found TFA instructors outperformed teachers traditionally prepared by UNC in five out of nine comparisons. In the other four, there was no difference.

However, a review by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice found that the evidence was less conclusive.

TFA teachers hold their own compared with teachers in the same schools who are less likely to be certified.  However, “studies indicate that the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers.”

The bottom line, according to the Great Lakes Center report, is “that TFA is likely not the panacea that will reduce disparities in educational outcomes.”

Interestingly, Will Nash, TFA’s executive director for the Appalachian Region, agrees with that assessment.

“TFA doesn’t think we’re a silver bullet,” Nash told me on Metronews Talkine Friday.  But he does believe his organization can be part of the solution to the shortage of qualified teachers.

For example, when I asked Nash if TFA could produce a physics teacher for a southern West Virginia County, he said “chances are very, very good that we can.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Movies This Week - 02.21.13

The Gilmer Free Press

Snitch

Opens Friday, February 22, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr .35 min.

PG-13 - Sequences of Violence and Drug Content

In the fast-paced action thriller SNITCH, Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission—risking everything, including his family and his own life.

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Michael Kenneth Williams

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Genres: Suspense/Thriller

 

 

The Gilmer Free Press

Dark Skies

Opens Friday, February 22, 2013 | Runtime: 1 hr. 35 min.

PG-13 - Violence, Language, Drug Content, All Involving Teens, Sexual Material and Terror Throughout

From the producers of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister comes Dark Skies: a supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family.

Cast: Keri Russell, Dakota Goyo, Josh Hamilton

Director: Scott Stewart

Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller

 

Glenville State’s Mark Jackson Invited to the 2013 NFL Combine

Glenville State College senior offensive tackle Mark Jackson has been invited to the 2013 NFL Combine.  Mark will be one of the offensive line prospects working out on Saturday, February 23, 2013.

Mark is from Columbus, Ohio and was a three year starter for the Pioneers. In 2012 he was a team captain, voted Team MVP, and was a First Team All WVIAC honoree for the third year in a row.  In 2012 Mark was also named First Team All-American by the AFCA Coaches and First Team to the 2012 D2Footabll.com All-American Team.

The Gilmer Free Press


The Path to Primetime continues at the combine, where more than 300 top prospects will continue on their quest to achieve their NFL dreams.

Follow the action February 23-26, 2013 on NFL Network.

You can also find more information on NFL.com.


Combine Workout Schedule:

» Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams

» Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers

» Monday, Feb. 25, 2013: Defensive linemen, linebackers

» Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013: Defensive backs

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