Blog - West Virginia Strong

Medical Marijuana Fix Coming To WV?

Stock Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash During the 2017 Session, the WV Legislature passed the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, allowing patients with qualifying diagnoses access to to medical marijuana, through regulated dispensaries. However, there was one thing missing from the bill.  Continue reading

Voters Come Out In Force

Photo Credit: WV Public Broadcasting Between the aftermath of the Teachers' Strike & high profile senate race, all eyes were on this year's West Virginia Midterm primary. But how did this translate at the ballot box? Continue reading

We've Been Here Before

Photo Credit: Charleston Gazette Mail Natural Gas can be an incredible resource for our state. It can help keep the lights on and keep our families. Let's just make sure the money's going to the right place. Continue reading

WV Voters Want To Be Heard

Photo Credit: WV MetroNews One of the biggest frustrations during this year's historic teachers' strike was that the teachers felt they weren't being listened to.  Continue reading

The Tour Goes On

Photo Credit: Craig Howell, Wheeling Intelligencer The PEIA Task Force Listening Tour continued Saturday in Weirton.  Continue reading

Let's Try Something New

Photo Credit: David Wilson, Wikimedia Commons This year's primary election was a good one for new candidates. Continue reading

The Momentum Continues

Photo Credit: Tyler Evert, Associated Press From West Virginia Public Broadcasting From Morgantown to Matewan, educators and their supporters pledged to "remember in November" the Republican state lawmakers who held out on the raise they demanded this winter during the teacher strike. On Tuesday, they went to the polls to, as some put it, "make them pay in May." Continue reading

Teachers Aren't Going Anywhere

Photo Credit: WOWK One thing was clear after the results from Tuesday's primary started to roll in: West Virginia's teachers remembered who was on their side during their strike earlier this year.  Continue reading

Kanawha County Voters Look Out For Their Neighbors

Photo Credit: WV Metro News There was more than just Party Primaries on the ballot on May 8th. Voters in several counties made their voices heard regarding safety levies and similar ballot issues to make their communities safer.   Continue reading

Are They Really Listening?

Photo Credit: WVNews The Governor's PEIA Task force kicked off their Statewide Listening tour with stops in Huntington & Point Pleasant. People of all ages came out and made their voices heard. Continue reading

The Business of Health

Photo Credit: Positively West Virginia Starting a business of any kind is no easy task.  Continue reading

The Fire Spreads

Photo Credit: Timothy D. Easley, AP Observers across the country are noting a trend. with the success of the West Virginia teachers in their fight for more sustainable pay and health care premiums, other states are following suit. From NBC News: “There’s a lot of energy, and a lot of national attention being paid to it,” said Burns, who is also the director of bargaining for the Association of Flight Attendants. Last week, Kentucky teachers came out in force to protest proposed cuts to their retirement benefits. And in Arizona and Oklahoma, two of the worst-paying states for teachers in the country, educators are demanding salary hikes. Read the full story.

Two Bills Pass, Funding WV Public Employee Insurance Fund

Photo credit: West Virginia Public Broadcasting In an effort to shore up the struggling Public Employees Insurance Agency long-term funding, two bills passed the Legislature and were signed by Gov. Justice. From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph: Gov. Jim Justice signed bills that allow co-tenancy and sports wagering. The co-tenancy bill allows development of oil and natural gas resources on single piece property with more than seven owners if at least three-fourths of the owners agree. The law takes effect July 1. “This co-tenancy law will allow for oil and gas development while protecting the rights of surface, mineral and landowners,” Justice said. Justice also signed a bill that would permit wagering on certain professional or collegiate sports events authorized as West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering activities. Co-tenancy has had a controversial history in the state, with legislators citing problematic issues with regard to minority landowner rights. Gov. Justice, a coal-industry billionaire, had initially opposed the natural gas measure, only to relent after the success of the teacher strike.

Ted Boettner, Cathy Kunkel: While WV cuts corporate taxes, problems and bills pile up (Gazette)

By Ted Boettner and Cathy Kunkel For the past decade, the West Virginia Legislature embarked on a strategy of cutting its way to growth — cutting corporate taxes by about $220 million a year. And this year the Legislature and governor are poised for more of the same, proposing to phase out $140 million in business property taxes for mostly large out-of-state manufacturing and extraction industries. While proponents like the W.Va. Chamber of Commerce and others said our last round of corporate tax cuts would boost jobs and growth, it’s clear that the only thing that happened was large cuts to colleges, schools, and other important public services. We have fewer private sector jobs today, than we did over 10 years ago before cutting corporate taxes. While the tax cuts didn’t have a significant impact on business growth, they have resulted in rising health care expenses for the one in seven West Virginians who depend on the underfunded Public Employee Insurance Agency. Continue reading

What's Next: A Gas Tax Fix?

Photo credit: Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo Now that West Virginia teachers have won their hard-fought campaign for a pay raise, a question remains: how to pay for it in the long-term. From Slate: There has been a push by some teachers—one endorsed by Justice, who happens to be a billionaire coal heir—to raise the state’s “severance tax” on oil and natural gas extraction in order to fund the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), which provides … yes, insurance to its public employees. As labor reporter Dave Jamieson documents in the Huffington Post, business taxes in West Virginia were cut significantly a decade ago with the support of former state governor—and current Democratic senator—Joe Manchin. Jamieson cites an analysis which says the cuts reduced the state’s annual revenue by $425 million.

West Virginia Raises Teachers’ Pay to End Statewide Strike

Photo Credit: Craig Hudson/Charleston Gazette-Mail By JESS BIDGOOD CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The statewide teachers’ strike that has shuttered West Virginia schools for almost two weeks moved closer to a resolution on Tuesday when the House and Senate passed a bill to give all state workers, including teachers, a 5 percent pay raise. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, announced the deal to hundreds of teachers who had gathered outside the State Senate on Tuesday morning, clad in the red T-shirts that have come to symbolize their strike. Their cheers filled the Capitol, but they immediately began to chant: “Put it in writing!” Continue reading

West Virginia teacher strike headed for a 9th day

By JOHN RABY and MICHAEL VIRTANEN Associated Press CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Striking teachers in West Virginia delivered yet another message to lawmakers Monday by packing the state Capitol to capacity, the eighth school day of the walkout. The show of support by thousands didn't immediately sway the lawmakers, who failed to agree on a 5 percent pay raise that would end the strike, forcing districts to cancel school again Tuesday. The governor, union leaders and the House of Delegates agreed to the pay raise for the teachers, among the lowest paid in the nation, but the Senate offered only a 4 percent increase. However, a conference committee of House and Senate members met twice Monday, adjourning until Tuesday morning after Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns said his chamber's leadership was offering "a compromise position." He noted it was only preliminary. Details were not publicly disclosed. Continue reading

Striking teachers go out of their way to make sure students have food.

By Meghan Holohan TODAY Contributor When teachers at Beckley Elementary in West Virginia considered going on strike, they worried their students would go to bed hungry. About 300 of the school’s 430 students rely on the free breakfast and lunch programs and a closed school meant many would have rumbling bellies. “One of our biggest worries … was our kids getting fed,” Patrick Williams, a social worker at Beckley Elementary, told TODAY. “We truly honestly care about our kids.” Continue reading

All-In or Nothing’: West Virginia’s Teacher Strike Was Months in the Making

  By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and JESS BIDGOOD GILBERT, W.Va. — Home from a long day teaching English last month at Mingo Central High School, Robin Ellis told her husband the latest talk among the teachers. They were tired of low pay and costly health benefits — and they were mulling a “rolling strike,” in which teachers in a few counties would walk out each day. “You don’t want to do that,” Donnie Ellis, her husband, said. As a veteran of strip mines and the intense labor conflicts that often came with them, he knew what made some strikes succeed and others crumble. “It’s got to be all-in or nothing,” he said. Continue reading