Hoppy’s Commentary Archives


TodayApril 16, 2021

The Transgender Athlete Learning Curve in West Virginia

There is an intense debate over legislation in West Virginia concerning transgender athletes. At issue is whether school students whose biological sex is male but whose gender identity is female (transgender) should be allowed or prevented from participating in girls’ sports at their schools. Female transgender sports participation is happening more across the country, but

Mark Bowden: How Special Ops Became a Solution to Everything

President Biden plans to end the U.S. fight in Afghanistan, bringing home the last of the roughly 2,500 American soldiers by September 11th.  The 20-year-long war begun following the terrorist attacks of 2001 will be over. What will not end, however, are the less well publicized wars the United States if fighting all over the

YesterdayApril 15, 2021

Note to Governor: Be Careful What You Wish For

Governor Justice is fond of spicing up his speeches with old adages and bits of folksy wisdom. One of my favorites that he used during the tax debate was, “We need to quit counting the egg-sucking legs on the cows and count the cows and just move.” In other words, do not get bogged down

WednesdayApril 7, 2021

He’s Out!

I’m out for a few days. Dave Wilson will be filling in for me on Talkline.  Meanwhile, feel free to speculate wildly about what I’m doing during my time off. Best, Hop

TuesdayApril 6, 2021

Manchin Balks at Biden Corporate Tax Hike

Senator Joe Manchin again holds a pivotal vote in determining the fate of another one of President Joe Biden’s big initiatives. Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill, and often Democrats and Republicans can agree on big spending on roads and bridges. But this time it is different. Biden’s plan goes well beyond brick

MondayApril 5, 2021

WV Will Get an Intermediate Appellate Court—Finally

The West Virginia Legislature, after years of trying, has finally passed a bill creating an intermediate court of appeals.  Governor Justice has the bill, and he is expected to sign it into law. As our Brad McElhinny reported, “The West Virginia Appellate Reorganization Act would establish an intermediate court to review civil cases between the

FridayApril 2, 2021

Senate Republicans Do About-Face On Food Tax

Senate Republicans may hear the voice of former House Speaker Tim Armstead echoing in the halls of the Capitol. The one-time Republican leader and now state Supreme Court Justice was a persistent advocate for eliminating the sales tax on food. He called the tax on groceries “immoral.” Republicans were in the minority during most of

ThursdayApril 1, 2021

Legislature Considers Gold Dome Sale

The proposals this legislative session to reduce and eventually eliminate the state income tax have produced various ideas for making up the lost revenue. Among those proposals are an increase in the sales tax, reinstating the food tax, and raising taxes on beer, liquor and wine.  But now several lawmakers are getting behind a more creative

WednesdayMarch 31, 2021

An Ominous Warning of a Fourth Covid Surge

When a top national health official warns of “impending doom” because of a potential fourth surge of the pandemic, you sit up and pay attention.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made that ominous prediction earlier this week. That is not what the country wants to hear.  After coping with the

TuesdayMarch 30, 2021

The Legislature’s Other Tax Proposal

Most of the attention on taxes this legislative session has focused on the Governor’s proposal to rapidly phase out the state’s personal income tax and the competing House Republican plan.   However, there is another tax plan that is moving this session that is getting far less notice. Both the Senate and House of Delegates are

MondayMarch 29, 2021

Does Gayle Manchin’s Nomination Undermine Her Husband’s Independence?

President Joe Biden is nominating Gayle Manchin of West Virginia to become Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.  The ARC is a federal agency that invests tax dollars and promotes economic growth over the 13-state Appalachian area. Manchin is qualified for the job. She is a life-long professional educator, former president of the state Board

FridayMarch 26, 2021

Federal Elections Bill is a Serious Overreach

Democracy is a participatory exercise. The term comes from the Greek words “demos” (for the people) and “kratia” (power or authority).  In a democracy, the power rests with the people. That power is immense, and it requires a responsibility on the part of the participants.  The preamble to the U.S. Constitution begins with the words,

ThursdayMarch 25, 2021

Joe Manchin and the Filibuster

Progressive Senate Democrats are pushing for the elimination of the filibuster, and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia once again finds himself at an inflection point in the debate. The filibuster is the procedural mechanism that allows one Senator to stop a bill, and the process can only continue if at least 60 Senators approve

WednesdayMarch 24, 2021

Justice Needs More ‘Strange Bedfellows’

It is said that politics makes strange bedfellows. Consider, then, Governor Jim Justice’s roundtable Monday to push for his tax plan.  Among the participants were Mitch Carmichael, Bill Cole and Woody Thrasher. Justice hired Thrasher as his Commerce Secretary, but then later fired him. Thrasher ran unsuccessfully against Justice in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary Election

TuesdayMarch 23, 2021

Marking a Milestone for Young Voters

Fifty years ago today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.  The House approved the amendment 401 to 19.  Just two weeks earlier, the U.S. Senate passed the amendment unanimously. One of the Senators casting a “yea” vote was Jennings Randolph from West Virginia, who

MondayMarch 22, 2021

The Civil War: Part Two

West Virginia was forged from the fires of the Civil War.  It sided with President Abraham Lincoln and the Union cause but, practically, the state was divided among northern and southern sympathizers. Incredibly, 158 years later, the West Virginia Legislature is still debating the Civil War. The reason is HB 2174, the Monument Protection Act.

FridayMarch 19, 2021

Justice Should Use a Golf Strategy to Advance an Income Tax Cut

Governor Jim Justice remains committed to his tax bill. He believes in, and has lobbied for, an initial 60 percent reduction in the state income tax, followed by its eventual elimination.  That would save taxpayers over $2 billion. But to offset the revenue loss, Justice wants a series of tax increases, including a rise in

ThursdayMarch 18, 2021

WV Political Party Executive Committee Members Lobby For Autonomy

If you want to hear from West Virginians who are passionate about their politics, talk with members of a party’s executive committee. These are the folks—Republicans and Democrats—who are the foot soldiers of their party. They make phone calls, raise money, man campaign headquarters, put up signs.  They are elected by people in their communities,

WednesdayMarch 17, 2021

The Biden-Trump PSA Fantasy

I have this fantasy. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump appear in a public service announcement (PSA) where they encourage Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Biden starts by repeating his promise for a traditional celebration of Independence Day with family and friends if we all do our part by getting vaccinated. Then

TuesdayMarch 16, 2021

Governor, House Republicans Not on the Same Page

The most common question heard under the State Capitol dome when discussing a particular bill is, “Do you have the votes?” The merits of legislation, or the lack thereof, are clearly important.  However, the hard truth of the legislative process is that only bills with a majority of votes—51 in the House and 18 in