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FROM THE WV HOUSE OF DELEGATES: FOR THE WEEK ENDING JAN. 11
The first session of 84th Legislature started Wednesday with leaders pledging a bold agenda to make West Virginia the most attractive place in the country in which to live and do business.
“The theme of this legislative session is to make West Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. “Everything we do will be with this goal in mind.”
Republican leadership, in cooperation with their counterparts in the state Senate, announced a comprehensive agenda earlier last week. That agenda included significant tax reforms, such as beginning the process to eliminate the property tax on business equipment and inventory to help attract job creators, and rolling back the personal income tax on Social Security income and improving to the Homestead Exemption to provide tax relief to senior citizens.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have also committed to continuing to improve compensation and benefits for teachers, school service personnel and state workers. Delegates will also propose additional incentives for those in high-demand fields, such as math and science teachers, to make those jobs more attractive.
Additional priorities include promoting broadband expansion and investment, expanding access to community and technical schools and workforce training programs, helping to recruit business start-up and investment capital, reforming the state’s foster care and adoption pro- grams, improving the Second Chance for Employment Act, and creating education savings accounts for students with special needs.
“Whether it’s by helping job creators start businesses and attract capital, expanding broadband to open up new opportunities for our education system and markets for our entrepreneurs, we want to help make West Virginia the most attractive place to be for not just our citizens and businesses, but those who might consider moving here in the future,” Speaker Hanshaw said.
“My goal is that when we look back at the 2019 session, we will see it as a watershed year toward launching West Virginia to a higher level of prosperity. We turned the corner over the last few years, and now it’s time to reach to new heights.”
Gov. Jim Justice delivered his State of the State address Wednesday evening. He laid out many priorities that legislators were eager to begin addressing, including pay raises for teachers and public employees and proving additional funds to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
“Governor Justice laid out a bold, ambitious agenda this evening,” Speaker Hanshaw said following the address. “He has many ideas I believe the House can embrace and our members will be excited to move forward on. We look forward to seeing more specific details of his proposals and expect we can work together to accomplish a great deal over the next 60 days.”
Gov. Justice also said he wants to begin diverting money from the recent Roads to Prosperity bond initiative to secondary and tertiary road repair.
House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, recently held a town hall meeting in her district where residents were vocal in asking for more attention to their secondary roads.
“We sing, ‘Country roads, take me home,’ but our country roads are in shambles,” Majority Leader Summers said.
In addition to the governor’s plan, Majority Leader Summers said House Republicans will propose ideas to give local Division of Highways districts more flexibility and funding for maintenance, as well as provide citizens with more transparency on how their highways dollars are being spent.
“We need to give our districts more control to contract out maintenance so we can fix these secondary roads,” she said. “Meanwhile, we also want to make sure funds are being utilized appropriately and in sufficient amounts, and give our citizens the ability to see where their tax dollars are going."
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With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a West Virginia worker has won a settlement against the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1017 after she filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Tammy Hedrick, an employee of Adell Polymers in Petersburg, originally brought the federal charge against the union after she was threatened with the stripping of her seniority at the behest of union officials, a violation of federal law.
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The cosmetology class of SBCTC/Cutting Edge School of Hair Design displayed individually designed heads in the “Project Turning Heads” fundraiser/competition.
Students raised over $366 that will be donated to Potomac State College Relay for Life Team, Catamounts Against Cancer. Each manikin head displayed was voted on by students, staff and the public by placing money to each design’s donation box.
Winners for the competition were as follows:
Haylie Bussard, first place for “Magical Falls,” a construction piece using items that would recreate an actual falls area.
Ashley Mowery, second place for “Honey I will be home later,” a hunter inspired design.
Christin Hose, third place for “Entirely Bonkers,” an Alice in Wonderland inspired creation,
All designs in the competition were extremely creative and well thought out. This project will be a yearly event to display students’ artistic talents and to help raise money for such a worthy cause.
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West Virginia University Potomac State College’s team of criminal justice students once again competed in the West Virginia Criminal Justice Educators’ Association’s annual conference this fall at Salem University in Salem.
Potomac State College students competed in both the crime scene competition and the quiz bowl competition. The PSC team took top honors in the crime scene competition, earning first place among eight teams.
The PSC team took second place in the quiz bowl competition, losing only in a sudden death tiebreaker on the final question.
According to criminal justice
Professor, Nicklaus H. Goff, J.D., “The students showed great sportsmanship and performed exceedingly well under pressure. They were the definition of a team and are to be commended on their success. We [the criminal justice faculty] are so very proud of them.”
The WVCJEA is an association made up of colleges and universities throughout the state of West Virginia that offer programs in criminal justice.
Potomac State College is part of the WVU System located on the Keyser campus.
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Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Moorefield has teamed up with local businesses, including Grant County Mulch, to recycle Christmas trees this year.
The college announced plans last week to assist local residents dispose of their Christmas trees in an environmentally conscious way and have them turned into mulch, compost, biochar or be used as a natural habitat.
In the announcement, Eastern explained that between 25 and 30 million real trees are sold during the Christmas season across the country, of which only a very small percentage are recycled throughout the community.
To combat that, the college partnered with Grant County Mulch and the Wardensville Garden Market to offer an alternative recycling service to interested community members.
The program will run until Jan. 18 and encourages the public to bring unadorned, live Christmas trees to one of four drop-off locations throughout both Grant and Hardy counties.
Drop-off locations are: Eastern College Technical Center at 150 Providence Lane, Petersburg; Grant County Mulch, 395 Loudon Heights Hill, Baker; Eastern College Main Campus, 316 Eastern Drive, Moorefield and Wardensville Garden Market, 28813 WV-55, Wardensville.
In their announcement, the college said they hoped to see the program become an annual event.
The college also stressed the need for community members to remove all lighting, tinsel and ornaments prior to dropping them off.