Hoppy’s Commentary Archives

TodayAugust 8, 2022

Speech is Free, But Lies You Pay For

The truth matters. As the late businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone said, “Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance.” That may sound like a quaint concept in these times of wild conspiracy theories spread by profiteering provocateurs and opportunistic politicians who prefer “alternative facts,” but occasionally we are

FridayAugust 5, 2022

Why West Virginia is Not Like Kansas on Abortion

The surprising outcome of the abortion vote in the Kansas Primary Election earlier this week has pro-choice advocates everywhere wondering the same thing: Do the results provide a “yellow-brick-road” pathway to wins for choice in other states, including West Virginia? There are some notable parallels between Kansas and West Virginia. Kansas, like West Virginia, is

ThursdayAugust 4, 2022

West Virginia’s Severance Tax Boom

Coal and natural gas are on fire, and the state of West Virginia is a major beneficiary. Prices for the commodities have skyrocketed, in some instances to record levels, generating previously unimaginable severance tax collections for the Capitol treasury. For example, the price for Central Appalachian thermal coal is close to $180 a ton, three

WednesdayAugust 3, 2022

Manchin’s Deal Clears a Path to Finish the MVP

Senator Joe Manchin, ever the deal maker, managed to cut a side arrangement with Democratic leaders when crafting a compromise on the climate, energy and Medicare prescription drug bill. The agreed-to separate deal includes multiple provisions aimed at streamlining energy project permitting processes. This adjacent understanding also has a specific provision for “the relevant agencies

TuesdayAugust 2, 2022

West Virginia: Wild, Wonderful and White

Over the years, I have occasionally mocked the phrase “diversity is our strength.”  It always sounded like something people, especially White people, are supposed to say when they want to sound inclusive. But, as with many things at this stage in my life, I am re-evaluating. West Virginia is one of the whitest places in

MondayAugust 1, 2022

WV Legislature’s Special Session: Heat, But No Light

Question: When is a special session of the West Virginia Legislature not so special? Answer: When nothing happens. So, here is what happened… I mean didn’t happen last week in Charleston. Governor Justice called lawmakers into special session last Monday to consider his tax plan, which he had revealed just 19 days earlier.  Justice invoked

FridayJuly 29, 2022

Joe Manchin’s Politically Perilous Middle Way

Joe Manchin has a political conundrum. He faces consistent headwinds as the only statewide elected Democrat in a deeply red state.  He had to campaign his tail off in 2018 to retain his Senate seat against Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to squeak out a win—49.6 percent to 46 percent. Notably, Manchin’s numbers have risen

WednesdayJuly 27, 2022

Rape and Incest Exceptions Highlighted in Abortion Debate

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed and sent to the state Senate a bill that outlaws abortion in the state, except where necessary to save the mother’s life, and limited instances of rape and incest. The Republican majority in the House initially showed no interest in the exceptions for rape and incest. The

Justice v. Blair on Taxes

  Governor Jim Justice and Senate President Craig Blair are headed for a showdown—or maybe a compromise—this special session on tax relief. Justice’s plan is straight forward—a roughly ten percent reduction in personal income tax that would save taxpayers about $250 million. Justice sees the reduction as a start toward the eventual elimination of the

TuesdayJuly 26, 2022

Now it’s Taxes AND Abortion

Real-time legislating makes for unpredictable politics. Governor Justice called lawmakers into special session Monday with the specific purpose of passing his proposed ten percent reduction in state income taxes. Justice crafted the agenda narrowly to try to prevent distractions. However, the Legislature is a co-equal branch of government, and it gets a say in what

MondayJuly 25, 2022

The Power of ‘I Was Wrong’

The New York Times last week took a remarkable risk. Eight opinion writers published pieces explaining how they were wrong about something they had written previously and why they had changed their minds. Paul Krugman wrote about how he had been wrong when he dismissed concerns about the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan causing inflation.

FridayJuly 22, 2022

Time to Fix the Electoral Count Act

One of the reasons for the chaos on January 6 is the ambiguity of the Electoral Count Act. Then-President Donald Trump tried to use the law to get Vice President Mike Pence to reject votes from certain states and instead recognize separate slates of electors who supported Trump. Pence refused, but the attempt was enough

ThursdayJuly 21, 2022

Governor Justice Takes Another Crack at Tax Cuts

Governor Jim Justice is fixated on getting rid of the state income tax. For some time now he has believed with great conviction that having West Virginia join the other seven states* that do not have a personal income tax is a key to increased prosperity for our state. Justice took a huge swing at that

WednesdayJuly 20, 2022

Confidence in the Media Hits New Low

A new Gallup Poll finds that confidence in newspaper and television reporting has reached an all-time low. The survey conducted last month found that just 16 percent of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers and 11 percent in television news. Both are down five points

TuesdayJuly 19, 2022

Even Conservative Republicans Know Trump Lost

This just in: Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Most have known that since November 7, 2020, four days after the election, when all the major networks declared Joe Biden the winner. However, Trump has continued to make baseless claims that the election was “stolen” from him. All the allegations of election fraud have been

MondayJuly 18, 2022

Schumer Takes Aim at Manchin and Misfires

John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, must have been in a particularly melodramatic mood when reacting to reports that Senator Joe Manchin had withdrawn his support for a scaled down version of the Build Back Better bill. “It seems odd that Manchin would

FridayJuly 15, 2022

The High Cost of Getting Old

If you read this column regularly or listen to my radio show, you’ve heard me talk about my mother, who passed away a few weeks ago.   The experience of helping with her care during the last years of her life raised my awareness significantly about issues related to aging. I have already written about, and

ThursdayJuly 14, 2022

Charleston Should Park E-Scooter Ordinance

The State’s Capital City is considering legalizing dockless electric scooters, or e-scooters. These two-wheeled scooters are increasingly popular modes of transportation in urban areas. Riders use a phone app to active the scooter, pay a fee depending on the amount of time they use it, then leave the scooter at their destination. Charleston City Councilman

WednesdayJuly 13, 2022

When You’re Down, Look Up

I was taking in two distinctly different sources of information simultaneously Tuesday afternoon. The TV was tuned to the January 6 committee hearings, while on my computer I was pulling up the remarkable images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. It was a challenge to reconcile the contrast. On one hand, the destructive events of

TuesdayJuly 12, 2022

Biden, Trump or None of the Above?

The country is in a sour mood. Polls show an increasing number of Americans believe things are getting worse. A Harris Poll of voters for the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard last month found that 70 percent believe the country is on the wrong track. Democrats, Republicans and Independents may not agree on