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Report from the Legislature

Needing a provision for automatic recounts

On June 23, Isaac Sponaugle conceded the race for the Democratic Party's nomination for West Virginia Attorney General to Sam Petsonk. The final margin in that June 9 primary contest was 140 votes out of about 170,000 cast, less than one-tenth of one percent.Many states provide for an automatic ...

Tourism Development Bill: One of the worst to pass the Legislature

The Tourism Development Bill (SB 657) became law recently. I think it's one of the worst bills I've ever seen pass the Legislature.It takes from town government any authority to regulate the construction of a "tourism development project" and gives it to the state Development Office in ...

Vote by mail: More voters, less cost!

In the last two dozen years, several states have adopted vote-by-mail (VBM). Two states, Oregon and Washington, vote only by mail. In others it's optional for each county.For many years I opposed VBM. I even refuse to vote early, unless I'm going to be out of town on election day. I like the ...

MARC to expand?

A news story in the Washington Post on March 20 by Luz Lazo reported that the Maryland General Assembly had passed a bill expanding MARC train service into Virginia and Delaware.The article did not say if Maryland Governor Larry Hogan would sign the bill. Either way, the bill raises interesting ...

‘Inventory’ tax repeal fails

The effort by the West Virginia Manufacturers' Association to repeal what it falsely calls the "inventory" tax has failed again.I use the word "falsely," because that term seriously misrepresents what WVMA was trying to do. What they've really tried to do, over several years now, is to ...

Long-term MARC deal finally in place

West Virginia and Maryland have signed a five-year agreement to continue MARC train service at three daily trains from Martinsburg to Union Station in Washington, D.C.The deal calls for West Virginia to pay MARC $3.4 million per year, with that figure rising slightly with time. According to the ...

Weakening the high school curriculum

Right before Christmas, Steve Paine, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools, released a statement that a revision of the state-mandated high school curriculum was being considered by the State Board of Education.The revision in question is the elimination of several courses, including ...

West Virginia’s foster care system is FUBAR

SNAFU, TARFU and FUBAR are acronyms I learned years ago, while serving in the U.S. Army. The explanations will be found at the conclusion of this column, but since this is a family newspaper I will clean them up slightly.There is a foster care crisis in our state. We have more ...

Higher education funding a never-ending issue

Shepherd University and Blue Ridge Community College have been extremely poorly funded, compared to other public institutions of higher education in West Virginia. Why?I believe it's because our state has never had a funding model or formula for higher education. Other states have such ...

Economic development authorities: The antithesis of transparency

According to Antonio Olivo's Sept. 25 story in The Washington Post, the director of the Warren County, Va., Development Authority is charged with embezzlement and money laundering. The head of economic development in St. Louis pleaded guilty to steering contracts to political donors. An ...