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Phil Kabler

Staff writer
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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...

Campaign contribution hike among bills passed on 50th day


Legislators reached the milestone 50th day of the 2015 regular session with a flurry of more than 50 bills on the House and Senate calendars on “crossover day,” the last day this session for the House and S...

W.Va. House overrides abortion ban veto


With no debate and little fanfare, the West Virginia House of Delegates took the first step Wednesday morning toward the first override of a governor’s veto in nearly 28 years.

The House voted 77-16 to overr...

House prepares to override abortion bill veto


As expected, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Tuesday vetoed a bill banning late-term abortions in West Virginia, citing constitutional concerns, an action that sets the stage for the first legislative override of a gubernatoria...

Government likely to finish year in the red


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Revenue collections remained stagnant in February, all but assuring the state of West Virginia will finish the 2014-15 budget year June 30 with a shortfall of $60 million to $80 million, Depart...

Senate passes charter schools bill


Legislation allowing establishment of autonomous charter schools (SB14) passed the Senate Monday evening on a party-line 18-16 vote.

The bill would allow non-profit or public organizations to operate state-funded c...

Senate drops veterans’ construction projects from bill


A House amendment to direct $1.5 million of state Lottery profits to construction projects to benefit veterans may be short-lived, after the Senate deleted the proposal from the bill (HB2213) Monday.

With veterans ...

Bill to end state’s involvement in greyhound racing seems dead


Legislation to end the struggling greyhound racing industry in the state by providing buyouts to greyhound owners and breeders appears to be dead this session, after the bill was removed from the Senate Finance Committee...

After hours of debate, House passes prevailing wage revamp


A bill to revamp and roll back West Virginia’s longstanding prevailing wage rate for construction workers on many publicly funded projects (SB361) moved closer to final passage Saturday after passing the House of ...

Mine safety regulation rollback up for House vote


Industry-backed legislation (SB357) that would relax a number of longstanding mine safety regulations is poised for passage in the House of Delegates Friday after delegates spent more than two hours Thursday evening reje...

Senate committee postpones action on audit legislation


Senate Government Organization Committee postponed action Thursday on legislation to greatly expand the number and frequency of audits of state agencies, after the chairman said he received assurances the House of Delega...

W.Va. Senate passes late-term abortion ban


For a second straight year, the West Virginia Legislature is poised to pass legislation banning late-term abortions in the state, with the Senate passing the ban (HB 2568) Wednesday on a 29-5 vote.

Senators rejecte...

Prevailing wage revamp goes to House floor


Legislation to recalculate West Virginia’s long-standing formula for setting prevailing wages for workers on publicly funded construction projects, and to repeal prevailing wage on projects costing less than $500,...

Joint liability bill going to Tomblin


Legislation that effectively eliminates the legal premise of joint liability in personal injury, financial damages or wrongful death lawsuits (HB2002) is headed to the governor’s desk after the Senate passed a Hou...

Senate leadership revives charter schools bill


A normally collegial state Senate erupted into acrimony Tuesday, after Senate leadership used a perhaps unprecedented procedural maneuver to resurrect the charter schools bill (SB14), a day after Senate Democrats had see...