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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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February 21, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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February 21, 2012
 

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Spirit of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE News/State Wednesday, February 22, 2012 A3 Governor seeing key successes this session .CHARLESTON (AP) -- With the West Virginia Legislature two-thirds of the way through its 2012 session, a pair of early and major successes has helped propel Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's 16-item agenda. Tomblin's proposed tax' break for at- tracting a multibillion-dollar chemical plant became the session's first bill to pass. The Democrat then won approval for his plan to cover the state's last major unfunded liability, an estimated $5 bil- lion shortfall from future public retiree health care costs. "It's kind of unusual that major pieces of legislation would be passed, would be finished so early." said Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley. . With 20 days left in the session, the agenda's two other key bills cleared committee hurdles this past week. One proposes various mine safety measures and is heading to a vote in the House of Delegates. It was amended to expand re- quired random drug testing to all mine employees, not only certified miners. "There are some differences of opin- ion, but I think we can resolve those and get that safety legislation passed," Tom- blin told The Associated Press on Fri- day. "What we're aiming at is the people directly associated with the mining pro- cess ." The Senate Health and Human Re- sources Committee endorsed the other bill. which among other things proposes that the state join a multistate computer system that tracks the sales of cold medi- cines that can be used to make metham- phetamine. The committee rebuffed an attempt to require prescriptions for those medicines, however. With scrutiny of Tomblin's 2012- 2013 state budget plan ongoing, the rest of his agenda-is moving as well. The House last week unanimously passed his bid to continue to exempt the state's tim- bur industry from the severance tax on natural resources. The House and Senate have exchanged his bills meant to aid the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. The 10,000-acre complex will host next year's Boy Scout National Jamboree and is slated to be the home of the 2019 World Jamboree. Each event is expected to attract tens and. perhaps hun- dreds of thousands of people. Tomblin's bills would ensure that medical profes- sionals could volunteer at the jamborees. and that surrounding counties could pro- vide needed school buses and drivers. The Senate Education Committee has Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin advanced the governor's proposal that would give McDowell County schools more flexibility under state policies and laws to turn around ailing schools. The House Education Committee, mean- while, has endorsed Tomblin's bill ex- panding a teacher evaluation pilot proj- ect statewide. Earlier this month, a unanimous Sen- ate passed a version of Tomblin's bid to. crack down on drivers who text or talk on a cellphone that's not hands-free. As amended, it would allow law enforce- ment to issue tickets for such conduct _ but only after pulling over the motorist for some other offense. But the House has considered a different approach, in part by making such distracted driving a primary reason for a traffic stop for teens. Disagreements over targeting this behavior have doomed such legislation before. Senate leaders, meanwhile, appear uninterested in Tomblin's 40reposed constitutional amendment that would create an elected office of lieutenant governor. The West Virginia Constitu- tion now has the Senate president suc- Ceed the governor when there's a va- cancy. Tomblin was Senate president in 2010 when then-Gov. Joe Manchin re- signed following his election to the U.S. Senate. But the state Supreme Court lat: er ruled that Tomblin could only act as governor, and mandated than an elected chief executive take office within a year of Manchin's departure. Tomblin won the special election that resulted. The governor's resolution would re- quire the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate. and then a majori- ty of general election voters must agree to the constitutional change. Unger is among those who advocate that the amendment instead make clear that the president leaves the Legislature and be- comes governor to fill a vacancy. "I don't know that it's necessary to create a whole new office," Unger said. "All you have to do is change a few words." House Republicans hold a similar view, and have tried without success to amend that chamber's version of this measure. GOP delegates also question Tomblin's bill that would increase the size of the state's main emergency re- serve while pledging future surpluses toward a new infrastructure fund. "If we're getting to the point where these surpluses are so large that we can set aside 15 percent in this rainy day fund, then our concern about that is that means we're overtaxing the people of West Virginia," said House Minority Leader Tim Armstead. R- Kanawha. "We would like to ensure that we do nothing that will tie our hands in terms of getting tax reduc- tions to the citizens and to the em- ployers of West Virginia." Senate revives insurance WVU court victory ends bill for pregnant teens CHARLESTON (AP) -- West Virginia lawmakers have resurrected a bill that would re- quire health insurance plans to cover pregnancy care and con- traception for insured daughters and wives. i The Senate Banking and In- surance committee amended and approved the bill Thursday. The same committee rejected the measure last week in part because of concerns over the $12.6 million estimated cost for the state to extend the benefit to its own employees Bill sponsor Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said the measure was riended to exempt certain types ,of" contraception, such as the 'm0ming after pill." : The' estimated cost is mis- leading because it represents three years of state insurance costs and does not reflect any savings to the state's Medic- aid program. Stollings said. The cost includes pregnancies of de- pendent daughters who are un- der 26 years old. Lawmakers might consider limiting the insurance cover- age to dependents under 18. But the federal health care reform law will require coverage of de- pendents up to 26 years old and the state would have to recon- sider the measure next session, Stollings said. "I am very pleased that banking and insurance re- considered it," he said of the bill. "Most other insurance are covering this anyway, most of the group and third- party commercial folks cov- er that anyway. It's just state employees are not seeing the benefit." Lawmakers have debat- ed extending such coverage to teens and young adults through their families' poli- cies for several years. West Virginia is also the only state to see its teen pregnancy rate increase while the national rate dropped. Lawmakers argue it is cheap- er for insurance companies to pay for pre-natal care than to pay for the expensive care needed if a child is born prema- ture or suffers from low birth. And new mothers without in- surance often rely on Medic- aid. which is supported by .tax- payers, or subsidized care from health providers. : r Hearing set on W.Va. sheriff removal petition ;PDINT PLEASANT (AP) -- ttree-judge panel will hear t l; Mason County Commis- s0n's petition to remove the sheriff in April. The Point Pleasant Register reports that the state Supreme Court appointed the panel to consider the petition. The hear- ing is set for April 18 and April 19 in the Mason County Circuit Court courtroom. The petition filed Monday cites Sheriff David Anthony's recent indictment on 42 counts, including wanton endanger- ment and embezzlement. The 42-year-old sheriff de- nies the charges. Meanwhile, Chief Deputy lob Wilson notified the county this week that he is resigning, effective March 1. The resigna- tion comes two weeks after An- thony named him chief deputy. Anthony told the Charles- ton Daily Mail that he tried to improve the department but he met "insurmountable resis- tance." fight with T-shirt maker MORGANTOWN (AP) The operator of a Morgantown T-shirt company battling West Virginia University over trade- mark rights says he is shutting down after losing the first round in federal court. WVU sued Miva-Man, oper- ating as Fastees, in U.S. District Court last month. On Thursday, Judge Frederick Stamp granted a temporary restraining order against Fastees. Owner Kevin Ford tells the Dominion Post he no longer has the energy to fight. He said he'll dissolve his business and take down his website but may open a new location later. Stamp ruled Fastees can't produce merchandise with 10 phrases, including one involv- ing profanity, one thatused the flying WV logo in the words "very wasted" and "Blood Sweat and Eers." WVU has trademarked "Let's Go Mountaineers!" But Stamp says it can't make Fastees stop using the phrase "Lets Go! Drink some bEERs!" WVU also objected to Fast- ees' use of the words "West Vir- ginia" when they're intended to refer to the university. Stamp agreed but said Fastees could use variations such as "West By God Virginia" and "State of West Virginia," or put the name of a city name before the name of the state. The university also com- plained that Fastees mimicked athletic team uniforms, used WVU's official old gold and blue colors, and put the univer- sity's official typeface on its products. WVU spokeswoman Becky Lofstead said the university is pleased with the ruling. [iii00 iiiil i i i!iiiiiiiii00!!!00 ......... 00i:ii','i Pedestrian FROM PAGE A1 sion. W.Va. Division of High- ways, Citizens Fire Depart- ment and Independent Fire De- partment. The accident is currently be- ing investigated by Senior Pa- trolman J.W. Newlin of the ................................................................... Charles Town Police Depart- ment. BRYAN CLARK Traffic is-snarled for two hours on U.S. 340 northb.oundafter a pedestrian is struck by a tractor-trailer. W.Va. lawmakers limit utility bonds to 2012 CHARLESTON (AP) -- West Virginia electric utili- ties that want to recover high efiergy costs would have until the end of this year to seek re- financing bonds. "That's the change the House Finance Committee made Monday to a bill that would allow such bonding requests. Appalachian Power is urg- ing support for the bill. It cites $350 million in costs from in- creasing coal prices. The re- cession's effect on demand and the loss of a major indus- trial customer are also factors. The utility says bonds will provide the up-front cash needed to avoid a 30 to 40 percent rate increase. But several speakers at a public hearing last week say the pending bill should not be open-ended in allowing for bonds. Those speakers also want long-term planning by utili- ties that embrace other energy sources. Eastern Panhandle Conservation District Annual be00,,00.ng Sale VARIETIES AVAILABLE INCLUDE: Colorado Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Silky Dogwood, River Birch, Redbud, Sugar Maple, Pin Oak, Red Oak, Blueberries, Grapes, Apple, Plum, Nectarine and Peach Trees Deadline for Ordering is March 2 Pick-Up Dates: April 13 & 14 at specified locations in each county Cli:26376:0tliviSit:ouf:webgRe Proceeds are used to support conservation activities in the local area. 3wn Volunteer Fire Dept./John D. Lowe, Jr. Golf Classic Cress Creek Golf & Country Club Shepherdstown, WV Thursday, May 10 Rain Date: Monday, May 14 To register go to: www.jeffersensecuritybank.corn and go to News at JSB at top. I Deadline for Entries: May 4, 2012 24 FIR BANKING 1.866.255.4190 www.jeffersonsecuritybank.com Member FDIC 1 I Consumer Attorneys Who Care l . Home Heolth C!re Sp!ecialis!s I MORE than a pharmaq. . . EVERYTHING you'llneed! I I " ;,;'U: ?" "