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Phil Kabler

Staff writer
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Statehouse Beat: Unproductive 2015 session not a bad thing


Given that the 2015 legislative session was an especially regressive one, it’s probably just as well that for most legislators, it was also a particularly unproductive session.

More than half of the Legislat...

Lottery revenues still down from last year


West Virginia Lottery revenues of $102.2 million in March were up 8 percent over February, but were down $8 million compared to March 2014, as revenues from the state’s four racetrack casinos continue to fade in t...

Poor road conditions leading to more claims against state


Jennifer Dorsey received $691.98 in damages after her 2007 Volvo struck a large hole on Interstate 77 south near Sissonville.

Chad Johnson received a $250 settlement for $620.38 in damage claims after his 2006 Chev...

Deal reached in Raleigh assessor’s ethics case


A hearing scheduled for Monday for Raleigh County Assessor Drema Bias Evans on charges of violating the state Ethics Act has been postponed, pending a tentative settlement agreement, Ethics Commission Executive Director ...

Statehouse Beat: Next governor will have difficult job


After months of speculation, it was a little anti-climatic when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced he was staying put in Washington rather than opting for a third term as governor.

While some state Democrats were...

Tourism Commission approves advertising grants


Meeting at Stonewall Resort State Park Thursday, the state Tourism Commission approved $1.19 million of tourism advertising matching grants, known as MAPP grants.

As always, the state’s racetrack casinos and...

State Medicaid costs grow


Medicaid costs accounted for 11.4 percent of the state’s general revenue budget in 2013, up from 8 percent in 2000, a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows.

Still, that was below the na...

Deadline to avoid PEIA deductible increase coming up


After years of offering proverbial carrots, the Public Employees Insurance Agency is using a stick approach to get members more involved in taking care of their health: Non-compliers will have their medical deductible in...

Manchin says governor/Senate decision one of toughest


Deciding to stay in the U.S. Senate instead of running for a third term as governor in 2016 was the “second-toughest decision of my political life,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters Monday.


PEIA faces cuts to health insurance


Short of the governor approving more than $100 million in new state funding for premium increases, the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board will have to steel itself this fall to come up with cuts in benefits ...

State will save more than $53M in retirement cuts


New legislation cutting retirement benefits for public school and state employees hired on or after July 1 ultimately will save the state more than $53 million a year in pension costs, Consolidated Public Retirement Boar...

Tomblin warns tax panel to be ‘fiscally responsible’


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is taking a cautious approach to the newly formed legislative Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform, calling on panel to be mindful of the state’s “fiscally responsible policies”...

W.Va.’s drop in ALEC report cited in tax reform push


Launching the inaugural meeting of a new legislative interim committee on tax reform Monday, Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, cited the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Rich States, Poor States...

Repairing potholes will “take time,” DOH official says


State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox asked legislators for patience as Division of Highways crews repair potholes caused by severe winter weather in February and March.

“Our maintenance crews are busy ...

Tomblin vetoes Cedar Lakes bill


Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, said he was disappointed to learn Friday that legislation he sponsored to facilitate the transfer of the Cedar Lakes Camp and Conference Center from the Department of Educatio...

State revenues down again in February


State revenue collections in March came in about $2.5 million below projections at $337.7 million, as bad weather hampered sales tax collections, and timing issues and low natural gas prices hurt severance taxes, state D...

Raw milk bill among several vetoed by Tomblin


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Thursday that he has vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to buy raw milk, saying that signing the bill “would pose a serious risk to public health.”

The bill (...

Tomblin vetoes two more bills, bringing total to 20


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed two more bills Wednesday, bringing to 20 the total number of bills he has vetoed from the 2015 regular session of the Legislature.

Tomblin vetoed a bill to make strangling a separate fe...

Capehart ethics hearing postponed


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An Ethics Commission hearing for former West Liberty University President Robin Capehart has been postponed to June 29, according to a continuation order issued Tuesday by Hearing Examiner Jenn...

Tomblin signs bills; guns in cars now OK at Capitol


Eleven days after vetoing a controversial measure that would have eliminated criminal penalties for carrying concealed weapons without a state permit, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Tuesday signed a bill that weakens a longstandi...

Lack of flat land means Volvo not coming to W.Va.


Officials with Volvo Cars announced Monday that they will locate a $500 million manufacturing plant in the United States -- but it won’t be coming to West Virginia.

State Department of Commerce spokeswoman C...

Governor vetoes ‘in God we trust’ bill for error


Public buildings in the state won’t be displaying the motto “In God We Trust” this year – after a bill with that requirement became the 14th that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed this session ...

Charleston brewer among those excited after craft beer bill signed


Word that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had signed into law late Tuesday legislation intended to help the state’s young craft beer brewing industry grow (SB273) came as particularly good news to Ryan Heastings, head brewe...

State commission applies for chance to host debate


Bringing a national presidential or vice presidential debate to Charleston isn’t a pipe dream, according to the chairman of the state commission that submitted its application to host a debate in the fall of 2016....

Lottery revenues down, but state’s share of profits up


Two-thirds of the way through the 2014-15 budget year, state Lottery revenues are down $31.5 million from the previous fiscal year — but the state’s share of profits is running ahead by about $4.5 million.<...

Tomblin cuts $11 million from budget


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin used his line-item veto authority to trim about $11 million out of the state’s now $4.29 billion general revenue budget for the 2015-16 budget year, paring back funds for public education, hi...

Tomblin lines out funding for park lodges


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called a bluff from legislators, eliminating a directive that would have provided more than $50 million for improvements at two state parks, among several line-item vetoes...

Tomblin vetoes bill to eliminate need for concealed-carry permits


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Friday vetoed a bill that would have eliminated criminal penalties for carrying concealed firearms without a permit (SB347), his office announced.

In a statement, Tomblin said, “Thro...

Legislation will grow state’s tourism marketing fund


Members of the West Virginia Tourism Commission were still practically giddy Thursday, a week after the Legislature passed a bill freeing up an additional $4.7 million a year for tourism marketing and promotion.


Longtime W.Va. agriculture commissioner Gus Douglass dies


Gus Douglass, West Virginia’s longest-serving agriculture commissioner, died Thursday at age 88 after a fall at his home in Mason County, his family announced the same day.

Douglass served as commissioner fo...

Lawmakers OK budget, correct vetoed bills


Legislators closed out the first regular session of the 82nd West Virginia Legislature on Wednesday, approving a 2015-16 budget bill that includes $4.3 billion in spending from tax revenue while also continuing to correc...

Tomblin: ‘lot of concern’ from people about concealed-carry permit repeal


Being unable to run for re-election and not seeking other political office in 2016, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin agreed Tuesday that there will be less political pressure as he decides whether to sign or veto bills passed this ...

State budget expected to be approved Wednesday


House and Senate budget conferees moved closer Tuesday to approving a 2015-16 budget bill, taking nearly $23 million out of the state’s “Rainy Day” reserve fund to close the funding gap in the $4.3 b...

House, Senate about 1 percent apart on spending


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House and Senate conferees began meeting Monday evening on what they believe will be the short work of closing out a handful of differences in their versions of the 2015-16 state budget bill.

Common Core repeal, smoking bill, fireworks die on Legislature’s final day


On the last day of the 2015 regular session, when several key bills crashed and burned, much of the fireworks in the final hours were over a bill that originally intended to legalize fireworks in the state but had been &...

House passes bill to eliminate concealed weapons permits


By a 71-29 vote, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Thursday that would allow people to carry concealed handguns without a permit.

If the state Senate concurs with a minor change the House made in...

‘Trinkets’ bill surprises Ethics Commission


Members of the state Ethics Commission said Thursday they were blindsided by a bill passed this session that would make it a violation of the Ethics Act for public officials to use public funds to feature their name or l...

Delegates reject amendment to defund Courtesy Patrol


A bill to free up as much as $4 million a year for state tourism advertising matching grants by moving funding for the state Courtesy Patrol from the Division of Tourism to Highways (SB581) advanced to passage stage Wedn...

Capitol renovation project may worsen parking problems


With renovations to Building 3 and governor’s mansion security enhancements set to get underway this year, parking problems at the Capitol complex could get worse. Acting Administration Secretary Jason Pizatella t...

State balanced budget resolution faces delay in Senate


A resolution that could make West Virginia the 27th of the 34 states needed to call a constitutional convention for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution (SCR13) will get a bit more review in the Senate, a...

Senator: Roads ‘the economy of our state’


With five days remaining in the session, a Senate committee Tuesday discussed what could be called the unspoken issue of the 2015 regular session, the need to increase funding for state highways construction and maintena...

Financial disclosure erased from campaign bill


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Shortly before midnight Monday, House Judiciary Committee members wiped financial disclosure requirements out of a Senate bill (SB 541) that also would raise limits on maximum campaign contribu...

Senate Finance advances balanced budget amendment resolution


West Virginia moved a step closer Monday to becoming the 27th state to call for a constitutional convention to propose a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

With members of the Senate Finance Commit...

Repeal of concealed weapons permits advances to House floor


A bill to repeal permitting requirements in order to conceal carry handguns advanced from the House Judiciary Committee Saturday evening (SB347). The bill now goes to the House floor.

A committee amendment adopted ...

Gun control poll says state residents against permit repeal


A majority of West Virginians oppose legislation to repeal permit requirements in the state’s concealed carry gun law, according to a poll of 500 likely 2016 voters conducted this week for Everytown for Gun Safety...