CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wrapping up a few items:
It probably doesn't bode well that the governor's office has yet to release the final report on the recommendations of the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways, some three months after the 31-member panel completed its work.
You may recall the commission, made up of representatives of business, labor, tourism, building contractors, the academic community, legislators, and members of the Tomblin administration, spent a year studying ways to close a multi-million-dollar funding gap for state highway construction and maintenance.
They proposed what arguably could be the least painful of several funding options, issuing $1 billion in road bonds, to be paid off by keeping tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike for another 30 years, through 2049.
That drew howls of protest from legislators in Turnpike counties. (At least, counties not named "Kanawha." Levels of outrage over tolls seem to go from minimal to extreme, the farther south you go on the Turnpike.)
Likewise, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sounded lukewarm when the commission released its proposal for the bond issue in September, saying he would reserve judgment until he read the final report.
That the report is not finalized, 21/2 weeks away from the start of the 2014 legislative session, is not to say that highways funding won't be a major issue on the Tomblin agenda, but suggests he may be looking at a different route.
Speaking of highway travel, it looks like we can add another high-ranking Department of Health and Human Resources administrator to the list of those who have been allowed to commute on the public dime.
Expense reports show that Nancy Exline, the new commissioner of the Bureau of Children and Families, had been making frequent trips to Charleston from her home in Lumberport this year, in her capacity as deputy commissioner, and then as acting commissioner of the bureau.
For 2013, Exline has billed total expenses of $5,878.
Expense reports show that for a period in August, she was commuting to and from Charleston three days a week, at a cost of $108.10 per day in mileage. In later reports, Exline used a state car, eliminating mileage reimbursements.
Also, on a number of occasions, Exline stayed overnight in Charleston, at the Sleep Inn on Pennsylvania Avenue, at a cost of $83.99 per night.
DHHR spokeswoman Allison Adler said that, prior to her appointment Oct. 16 as commissioner of the BCF, Exline was based out of bureau offices in Fairmont.
"As part of that job, she received travel reimbursement when she traveled out of the area for the position, including to Charleston," Adler said.