—The much talked about co-tenancy bill should finally come out of bill drafting and be assigned to the House Energy Committee this week. Chairman Bill Anderson (R-Wood) has been fine tuning the bill that would allow horizontal drilling into a natural gas reserve if 75 percent of the rights holders agree. Currently, 100 percent have to agree.
—The Republican effort to create an intermediate court of appeals will get rolling this week. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charlie Trump (R-Morgan) is putting the finishing touches on legislation that would create another level of appeals court. Opponents say the court will stretch out the appeal process, making it more expensive. The intermediate court is a priority again this year for the business community.
—SB 270 has kicked up a controversy. The bill, which is being pushed by the West Virginia Division of Forestry, would allow limited logging in state parks. State Forester Barry Cook says the small scale timbering will actually improve the health of the forests and provide money for state park repairs. State Ag Commissioner Kent Leonhardt has come out against the plan, saying the parks should be off limits to loggers.
—West Virginia’s only living Medal of Honor recipient, Woody Williams, is scheduled to be at the Capitol this morning. Williams is expected to thank legislative leaders for passing Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, which supports the construction of a memorial on the Capitol grounds honoring Gold Star Families, families that have lost a service member in combat.
—Don Blankenship believes he can win the U.S. Senate race in West Virginia, if people just get to know the real him. The former CEO of Massey Energy Tuesday officially filed in the Secretary of State’s Office to run for the Republican nomination for the seat now held by Joe Manchin. Blankenship, who spent a year in prison for conspiracy to violate mine safety standards, says people have gotten the wrong impression about him because of how he’s been portrayed by the media and his political enemies. Blankenship ran Massey Energy when the Upper Big Branch mine exploded, killing 29 miners.
—Charles Town Race Track is upset with the State Racing Commission over its refusal to approve a $1.25 million dollar purse for the track’s annual thoroughbred classic race. Commissioner Ken Lowe says the purse is way too high, but track officials say without the big prize , the classic can’t be held.
—The House Judiciary Committee is going to take up what’s being called the “preacher protection bill.” HB 4010 says that a preacher cannot be required to perform a marriage ceremony “that does not conform to the religious representative’s or religious society’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” The purpose of the bill is to protect preachers who do not want to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.