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WV Legislative Update

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As I write this week, we are on our way to Charlotte to meet Jessica and the boys.  We are really looking forward to spending time this week with Collin and Gavin, even if it is a brief visit.  They’ve been planning coming up for months, so we’re hoping for a few breaks in a not-too-favorable weather forecast this week to enjoy the farm, lake and river.  The traffic – backed up for miles on the northbound side of I-77 at the VA – WV line makes me realize the inconveniences we’re currently experiencing on I-79 around central West Virginia pale in comparison to the daily bottleneck that others experience, including those that use I-64 around Charleston to Huntington corridor.

The Braxton County Fair kicks off this week with thousands of folks from across central West Virginia pouring into Holly Gray Park for the fun, food, exhibits, amusements and entertainment. Thanks in advance to the many volunteers and the Fair Committee for their work, including security, law enforcement and our emergency responders.  Planning for this annual event overlaps from year to year.  Like many of our local fairs and festivals, partial funding for the event is included in the annual state budget, as it’s an important economic development tool for central West Virginia. 

Last Friday, the initial meeting of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education was held at the Bridgeport Conference Center.  As one of the commission members recommended by the Speaker and appointed by the Governor, we had some good initial discussions regarding our colleges and universities. However, opening statements by the commission members revealed a few areas of agreement and potential disagreement.  First, there seems to be consensus of the need to include community and technical colleges (CTC’s) along with 4-year institutions in the study; the need to build our well-trained workforce fill in-demand trades, technical positions, and jobs requiring baccalaureate or advanced degrees; the economic impact of our major and regional institutions; and, post-secondary costs to students; the need for increased accessibility for students of all ages.  These and other issues form good starting points.

Where I believe the heavy lifting will occur is the method and formula by which colleges, universities and CTC’s are funded from the State budget.  There will be considerable differences in opinion as to how to achieve a fair and equitable formula.  Every institution primarily serves different regions of the State, and with that comes a broad overall difference in the economy and family income levels.

I’ve been around long enough to know that GSC can compete with any school in the state, if provided the resources to be on a level playing field with the other regional colleges and universities.  I also know that just assuming that things will all work out is a dangerous assumption, considering that at the end of this commission process, it will still fall back to the Legislature to enact or reject recommendations, all or in part.  With each region of the State pulling for their respective institution, rural central West Virginia cannot afford to be passive in our efforts.  I want all to succeed and prosper, but not at our expense in central West Virginia.

I know there are several committee members that share many of my concerns, including Co-Chair Kendra Boggess, President of Concord University and my legislative colleagues, Delegate Atkinson and Senator Prezioso.  The next meeting has not been announced yet, but with a deadline of December 10 for a final report to the Governor, much work remains.  In the meantime, Co-Chairman Gee stated that we would be live-streaming future meetings, as well as establishing a portal for public comment, information and archived meetings to access after-hours.

Meanwhile, the bigger news continues to be the ongoing facts that continue to be uncovered by House investigators regarding some members of the West Virginia Supreme Court.  In addition to the pending federal indictment of Justice Loughry, the lavish and outrageous spending of the court members is truly an affront to every West Virginian.  With the previous bombshell revelations and follow-up testimony of former Court Administrator Steve Canterbury, some court members are alleged to be operating as if they are above being answerable to the citizens that elected them to 12-year terms.  Multiple employees have testified under oath that they were either intimidated or outright threatened with termination if they didn’t comply with requests outside the scope of their employment.

Clearly, it appears some justices were more involved than others on the court.  Justice Ketchum has already resigned.  Justice Loughry is under federal indictment for numerous offenses.  I think it’s important to examine all the facts in regard to the remaining justices to determine if they’re guilty of impeachable offenses or extremely poor judgement in regard to public funds, resources and extravagant spending.  If it’s the latter, the question will be impeachment verses the voters taking make the decision when their respective terms expire.

The other matter is concluding this matter so the voters can select a replacement justice (or justices) on the Supreme Court this November.  Former Justice Ketchum’s seat will be on the ballot.  Barring resignation or removal prior to August 14, any justice removed from office by impeachment after that date will be likely be appointed by the Governor and allowed to serve until the 2020 May election.  Delays by House and Senate leadership in beginning this investigation has virtually assured the conclusion will be after mid-August, thereby making the non-partisan position instantly a political selection by the Governor instead of one made by the people.

Please send your inquiries to my home office:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

Mr. Boggs. Could you give us an update as to what is happening, action, meeting discussions, etc. with the Little Kanawha Parkway?

We know the Legislature sets aside a goodly amount of money every year, and has for years, but never see any mention in the news of any progress.

Thank you.

Comment by Orlando  on  07.31.2018
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