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Phil Kabler

Staff writer
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Turnpike holiday traffic up over last year

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Fourth of July holiday traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike was up slightly over last year, but up substantially from the last time the holiday fell on a Saturday, state Parkways General Manager Greg Barr said Monday.

‘Casino night’ fundraisers under fire

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Plans by the state Lottery Commission to crack down on charities that host “casino night” fundraisers using gaming devices that technically are illegal under state law has drawn a lot of criticism – ...

Low coal, gas prices cause revenue shortage

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Plunging prices for natural gas and coal caused the state to come up $50 million short in revenue collections for the 2014-15 budget year, which ended Tuesday, state Department of Revenue officials said Thursday.

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Work on Building 3 could begin in 2 or 3 weeks, contractor says

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Derick Foster is extremely busy these days. Which, given the downturn in the construction industry in the area, is a very good thing, he said.

“We’re very, very excited, and...

State Lottery wants to stop “casino night” fundraisers

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State Lottery officials are looking at ways to crack down on a resurgence of charitable fundraising “casino night” events that are illegal under state law.

“We think it’s a major violati...

Contract awarded for Building 3 work

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An eight-year saga to renovate Capitol Complex Building 3 has taken a major step forward with the awarding of a $34.28 million contract to a St. Albans building contractor.

General Services awarded the contract to ...

Statehouse Beat: Justice putting millions into Greenbrier Classic

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This week’s Greenbrier Classic PGA tournament will again put a national spotlight on West Virginia, with Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice again spending millions of his own money to make the event possible.

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State official says foreign trade trips worth the cost

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Investments linked to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s trade mission to Japan in 2012 alone have exponentially exceeded the costs of that trip, as well as costs of a trade mission to Europe in 2013, and a return visit to J...

Statehouse Beat: Revitalizing state’s racing industry a big job

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To say that the new Racing Commission committee appointed to come up with ways to revitalize thoroughbred and greyhound racing in the state has a daunting task is a true understatement.

As state Greyhound Owners an...

Statehouse Beat: State makes payment to Old White for golf tourney

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Like clockwork, the state has made its first payment this month — of $500,000 — to Old White Charities, the non-profit organization that operates the Greenbrier Classic PGA golf tournament, for a prime spon...

Officials look to make up for lack of parking at Capitol

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With plans to convert the two parking lots north of the state Culture Center into a bus turnaround, Department of Administration officials are trying to address an already-serious lack of public parking spaces at the Cap...

Committee talks racing pros, cons

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Faced with the daunting task of coming up with ways to revitalize the state’s struggling thoroughbred and greyhound racing industries, a committee appointed by the state Racing Commission spent two hours Tuesday a...

Kiss: $70 million shortfall is ‘manageable’

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In what could be considered a large-scale equivalent of raiding the cookie jar and finding all the loose change under the sofa cushions, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has ordered state agencies to sweep about $38 million out of ...

Fate of state prevailing wages unclear

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One day after legislative leaders denounced WorkForce West Virginia’s plan for recalculating the state’s prevailing wage rates, and voted down a motion to keep the current rates in effect to Sept. 30, the f...

Cities, counties worry tax changes will mean cuts

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Cities and counties are already struggling with low tax revenues, and mayors and county commissioners urged state legislators Tuesday not to make changes that could cut their already limited sources for those revenues.

Natural gas industry still working on forced pooling bill

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Following an 11th-hour defeat of legislation to require forced pooling of natural gas fields during the 2015 regular session, the natural gas industry is spending the year promoting and explaining the controversial measu...

Without recalculation, prevailing wage at risk

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Prevailing wage rates for state-funded construction projects are now set to expire July 1, after the legislative Joint Committee on Government and Finance rejected a motion Monday to extend the...

State could save millions on Courtesy Patrol, audit finds

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West Virginia could save millions of dollars if the Division of Highways operated the state Courtesy Patrol internally, instead of contracting the service out to a non-profit agency, a legislative audit released Sunday f...

W.Va. superintendent defends Common Core to Legislature

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State Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano defended West Virginia’s Common Core-based educational standards, telling legislators Sunday that the standards are critical to assure all students in the state ar...

Capehart agrees to fines for Ethics Act violations

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Former West Liberty University president Robin Capehart, accused of 13 counts of violations of the state Ethics Act for using university resources and staff to benefit his privately owned independent film production comp...

W.Va. tax collection shortage worse than it appears

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Weak tax collections in May were actually worse than they appear, state Department of Revenue officials said Thursday.

May tax collections of $280.7 million fell nearly $4.8 million, or 2 percent, below estimates.<...

EBA approves new policy for televised debates

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West Virginia Public Broadcasting has a new policy for determining when third-party and independent candidates will be invited to participate in broadcast debates.

The state Education Broadcasting Authority on Wedn...

New prevailing wage method won’t change much, union leader says

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New methodology for calculating prevailing wage rates for state-funded construction projects is not likely to dramatically change wages for construction workers — and in parts of the state, will probably mean high...

Commission to study how to maintain racing industries

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Recognizing that the state’s racing industry faces a “changing and challenging atmosphere,” the state Racing Commission Tuesday voted to create a committee to study ways to maint...

Workforce West Virginia submits new prevailing wage rules

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Calculation of prevailing wage rates will be simpler, more streamlined, and its designers hope, more accurate — under new rules submitted Monday by WorkForce West Virginia.

Under legislation passed this sess...

Lottery rakes in $1 billion again, but not as quickly

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Earlier this month, the West Virginia Lottery broke the $1 billion mark for gross revenue for the 14th consecutive year, monthly Lottery reports show.

However, in light of declining revenues — primarily beca...

2 companies tie as low bidders on WV Capitol Complex renovation

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A nearly eight-year saga for plans to renovate Capitol Complex Building 3 reached a new milestone Wednesday when bid openings for a scaled-back design to renovate the historic West Virginia office building ended in a tie...

Holiday weekend travel up 5 percent from last year

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Lower gas prices and good weather proved to be the right combination for higher-than-expected Memorial Day weekend traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike, Parkways Authority general manager Greg Barr said Tuesday.

T...

Casinos will no longer have biggest part of tourism advertising grants

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State Tourism Commissioners Thursday repealed a long-standing preference that provided the state’s four racetrack casinos with the lion’s share of funding for tourism advertising matching grants.

With...

Blue Ribbon panel: Raise WV Turnpike tolls to fund highways repair

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After a 20-month hiatus, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways on Wednesday adopted recommendations to increase funding for West Virginia roadways — recommendations that are essentially unchange...

Report: Rural WV roads, bridges among worst in nation

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West Virginia has some of the most deteriorated and dangerous rural roads in America, a new report by the Washington-based national transportation research group TRIP shows.

Released Tuesday, the report found that ...

WV lawmaker: Tax reform alone isn’t enough

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After day-long testimony Monday from academics and experts from national organizations, a co-chairman of the legislative Select Committee on Tax Reform said reform ultimately may not mean big c...

Statehouse Beat: Cash-strapped counties can’t absorb another tax cut

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Although today marks only the second major meeting of the legislative Select Committee on Fair Taxation, many observers believe that among the taxes subject to the committee’s slashing will be personal property ta...

W.Va. election commission approves changes for nonpartisan judicial elections

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State Election commissioners on Friday approved preliminary changes to bring state election regulations in line with new laws and court rulings.

That includes changing rules for public financing of state Supreme Co...

Long-awaited WV highways report out next week

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A long-awaited, much-delayed report on ways to increase state funding for highways construction and maintenance will be released next week, Administration Secretary Jason Pizatella confirmed Thursday.

The final rep...

State’s tobacco settlement payments have been steady

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Payments to the state from major cigarette manufacturers under the national Tobacco Settlement Agreement has held steady at about $63 million a year for the past two years.

Financial advisor Paul Creedon told the s...

Tourism Commissioners debate matching grants

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Members of the state Tourism Commission Wednesday debated ways to more equitably distribute ever-shrinking state funds for advertising matching grants – possibly including eliminating preferences for the state...

Craft beer predicted to grow under new WV law

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Tourism Commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin said Monday she’s confident the number of craft brewers in West Virginia will double from the current 11 with new legislation that lowers li...

Agenda set for governor’s Japan trip

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A nine-day trade mission to Japan to mark the 25th anniversary of the state’s development office in Nagoya will include stops in that city, along with Yokohama and Tokyo and receptions marking the anniversary in b...

Statehouse Beat: What’s behind tax reform push?

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Despite its mandate to “aggressively cut taxes” in order to spur economic growth, the first significant meeting of the legislative Select Committee on Fair Taxation seemed more like a solution in search of ...