Commentary Archives

TodayFebruary 24, 2021

Senate Bill Creates Necessary Oversight for Health Boards

West Virginia legislators are engaged in a contentious debate over a bill that would give county commissioners more control over decisions made by county health departments. As explained by our Brad McElhinny, Senate Bill 12 “would require county commissioners and other health-appointing agencies, like city governments, to approve or disapprove rules passed by local health

YesterdayFebruary 23, 2021

Poll Shows WV Republicans Support Income Tax Elimination

We have yet to see all the details of Governor Jim Justice’s proposal to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the state’s income tax.  Justice did lay out parts of his plan in his State of the State address earlier this month. The sales tax would rise from six percent to seven-and-a-half percent. Sales tax exemptions on

MondayFebruary 22, 2021

It’s Nothing Personal, Governor

Governor Jim Justice is notoriously thin skinned. To him, all business is personal. Sometimes that serves him well. Justice has taken his role in leading West Virginia through the pandemic as a personal crusade.  As a result, West Virginia has fared better than many states and is now leading the nation in vaccine distribution. But

FridayFebruary 19, 2021

Yes, Strikes By WV Teachers Are Illegal, But Who Will Enforce It?

West Virginia Department of Highways workers went on strike in 1969.  State schoolteachers struck in 1990, 2018 and again the following year. For each strike there was always debate and disagreement over whether public employees could legally strike. And each time, courts and legal opinions found that the strikes were illegal. However, the issue has

ThursdayFebruary 18, 2021

Thanks, Rush

Rush Limbaugh changed my life. Let me explain because it’s not what you think. To me, Rush was, first and foremost, a broadcaster, an entertainer and a master communicator. He operated at the highest level of a radio talent by forming personal relationships with millions of people he never met. He revived and then perpetuated

WednesdayFebruary 17, 2021

Capito’s Crown Jewel–Republicans Overtake Democrats in WV

Republican voter registration has overtaken Democratic registration in West Virginia for the first time since 1932.  Figures from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office show there are now 448,924 registered Republicans (36.81 percent) and 444,609 Democrats (36.46 percent), with 275,469 with no party affiliation (22.6 percent). The shift in West Virginia’s political landscape has

TuesdayFebruary 16, 2021

The Pandemic and Public Education

One of these days, after we have returned to some sense of normalcy in a post-pandemic world, we will learn just how much the virus impacted the education of our children, and the news will not be good. We know that remote learning is, for now at least, a temporary fix, and one that cannot

MondayFebruary 15, 2021

West Virginia’s Post-Pandemic Economy

West Virginia’s economy is still feeling the effects of the virus, and it is going to be awhile before the state is fully back to pre-pandemic levels. A report from WVU’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research shows the state lost 94,000 jobs during the pandemic. Bureau Director economist Dr. John Deskins calls it “the

FridayFebruary 12, 2021

Justice’s Tax Plan is Bold, But is it Smart?

Say this about West Virginia Governor Jim Justice: He goes big. Justice opened the 2021 legislative session by proposing the elimination of the state income tax. That is a heavy lift. For this fiscal year, state income tax collections are expected to reach $2.2 billion, out of a $4.6 billion General Revenue Budget. That is

ThursdayFebruary 11, 2021

$15 An Hour Minimum Wage Deserves Truthful Debate

President Joe Biden wants to fulfill a campaign promise by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.  The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, and it has not been raised since 2009, so the argument for some increase is compelling. Advocates say wages will go up for the lowest paid workers and

WednesdayFebruary 10, 2021

A Legislative Session Like No Other Begins Today

The 2021 regular session of the West Virginia Legislature begins today, and it will be like no other in the state’s history. (Read Brad McElhinny’s report on the start of the session.) Many safety protocols are in place because of the pandemic. They will alter not only how and where lawmakers gather inside the State

TuesdayFebruary 9, 2021

The Senate Won’t Convict Trump, But It Should

The defense team for former President Donald Trump has a job that is both easy and difficult as the impeachment trial begins today in the United States Senate. The easy part is that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. The test vote on the impeachment came two weeks ago on Senator Rand Paul’s motion to

MondayFebruary 8, 2021

Can a Former President be Impeached?

This will be an historic week in the U.S. Senate, not only because of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, but also because of the debate over the very question of whether a former president can be tried after he has left office. The House impeachment managers will argue that the Senate

FridayFebruary 5, 2021

WV Office of Oil and Gas Short on Inspectors

West Virginia has a lot of gas wells—giant horizontal fracking wells, smaller conventional wells and old gas and oil wells that have been abandoned. The state Office of Oil and Gas (OOG), within the state Department of Environmental Protection, reports West Virginia has approximately 60,000 active wells and about 15,000 abandoned wells under its jurisdiction.

ThursdayFebruary 4, 2021

WV’s Blue Geysers Not Strong Enough to Take Out Joe Manchin

The progressive political action committee No Excuses has started a campaign to try to oust conservative U.S. Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona. Politico reports the PAC is “starting to search for candidates to challenge incumbent Democrats they say are standing in the way of ambitious action to end

WednesdayFebruary 3, 2021

Biden, Capito, Manchin and the Covid-19 Relief Bill

Joe Biden made his governing philosophy clear on inauguration day. “Unity is the path forward,” he said, “and we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.” And now, President Biden is meeting the first challenge to his pledge for unity—the Covid-19

TuesdayFebruary 2, 2021

WV Trending in Right Direction on Covid

West Virginia is making progress in tamping down the Covid-19 virus. Governor Jim Justice pointed to several of the key indicators during his briefing Monday. —The number of active Covid-19 cases has declined for 16 straight days, down from over 29,000 early last month to 20,615 according to yesterday’s numbers from DHHR. —Hospitalizations from Covid

MondayFebruary 1, 2021

West Virginia Braces for Biden Climate Change Policies

Joe Biden is following through on his promise to be the climate change president.  He has already issued a series of executive orders on the environment and has pledged to achieve a 100 percent clean energy economy with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. These measures will have a dramatic impact on West Virginia. West Virginia

FridayJanuary 29, 2021

Biden Called Out For Plethora of Executive Orders

President Joe Biden has been busy during his first days in office signing a flurry of executive orders, everything from health care to climate change to racial equality to immigration. He signed 22 just in the first week, which is almost twice as many as the last eight administrations put together in their first week.

ThursdayJanuary 28, 2021

Judge Makes Right Call in Back-to-School Case

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster this week refused a request by the state’s two teacher unions to block the return-to-school mandate issued by the state Board of Education. Judge Webster clearly agonized over the decision, but she concluded that the unions were not able to show that the order to return reached the