GilmerFreePress.net

WV Legislative Update

image

All eyes have been keeping watch on the weather events in the Carolinas for the past several days, and at this writing on Sunday evening, we are watching to see how the remnants of Hurricane Florence will impact West Virginia rivers and streams.  Having Jessica and her family, as well as Jean’s brother and his family and many friends from central West Virginia potentially in the storm’s bullseye certainly made this weather event personal.  It also reminded me that every person that is impacted by the flood has worried family and friends somewhere. 

While the greater Charleston, SC area was spared the hurricane’s direct strength, those in North Carolina and inland South Carolina are experiencing historic and devastating flooding.  By mid-week, we will know more about this unfolding tragedy.  Likewise, we’ll know to what extent West Virginians have been impacted.

Sunday afternoon, the heat, humidity and threat of rain did not deter the “55 Strong” teachers, state employees and school service personnel from a rally on the south side of our State Capitol.  Several other regional events were also held at various locations around the State.  I was only able to attend for a short time but the message is unchanged from seven months ago…it’s time to fix PEIA.

At this writing, the members of the Governor’s PEIA Task Force have not issued a final report, nor have they produced any recommendations for additional insurance funding for active and retired teachers, school service personnel and state workers.  The Sunday rally was a reminder that the clock is ticking for the Governor’s committee to come up with a solution to PEIA funding.  They need to complete their work with recommendations for meaningful action.

Here’s another concern.  Because PEIA ended the previous fiscal year with a $30 million surplus, I’m highly skeptical that any bold, meaningful recommendations coming from the committee will be acted upon.  Comments I heard from some legislative leaders this afternoon may well be an indicator of the majority party and administration’s intention to use last year’s PEIA surplus to freeze or reduce premium increases, co-pays and deductibles in an attempt to divert attention away from the more difficult task of finding a permanent funding fix.  If so, that is the very scenario that former Governor Tomblin and the previous PEIA Board were severely criticized for by many of those who are now the current legislative leadership.

Now is the time to tap a combination of revenue sources to fully fund PEIA.  One potential source is by increasing the tax on out-of-state corporations that have massive land holding throughout West Virginia.  This has been an untapped source for decades with no movement in sight.

Meanwhile, the budget numbers for the first two months of the 2019 fiscal year are running ahead of estimates by $65 million.  Although that is a 19% increase from last year, it still does begin to get us back to the financial position we enjoyed a few years ago.  Consumer sales tax, personal income tax and severance tax collections are the primary drivers, which should continue strong for a while longer.  If this trend does continue, we should begin to consider restoring some of the harmful cuts made to programs that affect kids, seniors, higher education and public safety – law enforcement, volunteer fire departments and other first responders.  Drug treatment centers are needed throughout our State and affordable job training programs are in short supply.  The Road Fund is strong, but we need the weather to cooperate on making as many repairs and upgrades as possible for the remainder of this calendar year.

Finally, it’s been difficult to comprehend that seventeen years have passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our nation…events that have forever changed how we view national security and terrorism.  Just as Pearl Harbor reshaped and refocused our nation at the beginning of WW II, so did the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  At every milepost in history we have pulled together as a nation, laid partisanship aside and jointly worked to redouble our security efforts.  Meanwhile, the brave men and women of our Armed Services continue to do their duty, here and around the world; law enforcement and first responders stand strong to protect and serve.

We must continue to do all possible to avoid and prevent another terrorist attack, war, or any other traumatic, history changing event.  Now is the time for true statesmen and stateswomen to step up and lead at every level of government.  It’s time to put partisan politics aside in order to move our state and nation forward.  Our kids and grandkids are watching and waiting to see who’s willing to practice leadership by example. 

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.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

<< Back to Home Page


Copyright MMVIII-MMXVIII The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved