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The Republican led State Senate on Tuesday brought back a bill to allow charter schools. The move on the Senate floor prompted Democrats, in protest, to request that bills be read out loud in their entirety. On Monday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler led a charge to postpone indefinitely the charter school bill. The motion passed with three Republicans absent in the committee. On Tuesday, Republicans moved to pull the bill out of the committee for floor consideration. The motion passed 18-16 along party lines. The bill could get a vote by Thursday.
Some state lawmakers are leading a charge to make it criminal to enforce the federal Affordable Care Act. Republicans in the state House of Delegates are backing a bill under which federal employees would face felony charges for enforcing the ACA, and state workers would be charged with a misdemeanor if they administer the regulations under the act, according to the Charleston Gazette. The legislation also declares the federal health-care law “invalid” in West Virginia. So far the bill has stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.
The second-ranking Republican state senator is pushing to make medical marijuana legal in West Virginia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael filed a bill Monday to allow marijuana use for patients with debilitating health conditions. He said he previously had opposed medical marijuana, now thinks it has legitimate value as a therapeutic medicine for things like cancer, HIV and AIDS, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Carmichael said he still opposes legalizing recreational marijuana. Twenty-three states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
As U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin considers a 2016 return bid for governor, Republicans have filed legislation to block him from handpicking his Senate successor for two years. If he reclaims his old job, Manchin will have served enough of his Senate term that he, as governor, could name the next senator to serve through 2018. With majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in more than eight decades, Republicans can stymie Manchin's ability to name a potential replacement. Berkley County Republican Sen. Craig Blair filed an election bill Monday requiring special elections, not appointments, in cases like Manchin's.
Winter has recked havoc in quite a few ways lately, and melting snow doesn't make things any easier. Thousands of dollars in damage has been reported at a locally owned business in Kanawha City, and WCHS TV says the buildng had a flat roof that couldn't handle the melting snow or rain. After leaks, the celing at Spa Bliss gave way. The spa had to cancel a packed appointment list Monday but hopes to repoen today. There are 27 employees hoping they will.
The weather has been causing problems with water supplies, as thousands in Kanawha County know first hand. Frigid cold followed by fluctuating temperatures have left several thousand West Virginia American Water customers without service. The company said Monday that efforts to restore service have been hampered by multiple main breaks and high demand. Storage tanks have been drained by weather-related main breaks. The outages are primarily in Kanawha and Boone counties. Another 500 customers went under a boil water advisory Monday after about 3000 were impacted over the weekend. WV American Water has brought in additional crews to restore service, and they ask all customers to only use water for essential purposes to help its system recover.
The board of West Virginia University is encouraging administrators to complete the $8.5 million purchase of Mountain State University's Beckley campus. Meeting in Morgantown, the governors unanimously approved backing the purchase on Friday, stating the administration should take "all necessary steps" to complete the sale. In a statement, WVU President E. Gordon Gee called the purchase a "unique opportunity" for the university to introduce academic programs to southern West Virginia. The Beckley private school's accreditation was revoked by the Higher Learning Commission in June 2012 because of leadership, organizational and integrity issues. A three-judge panel has given its approval to the sale.
There's been an arrest in a reckless driving case, after the person behind the wheel hit a Kanawha County Sheriff's cruiser. It happened early Saturday morning, and the deputy was responding to a disturbance call on Strawberry Road outside of Saint Albans. He had his emergency lights on and was parked near the side of the road when a black sedan came speeding along and hit the rear of the cruiser, and then kept going. The car went onto Empire Drive and nearly struck several parked cars, and then on Scott Drive the car came to a sudden stop. The driver ran but was quickly caught, and identified as 51-year old Susan Marie Scott of Saint Albans. She was charged with fleeing while under the influence and fleeing with reckless intent. She had been arrested a few hours prior for driving while revoked for DUI after she was involved in a crash. Cpl B-D Humprheys says she was released after that arraignment, retrieved her vehicle, got high on drugs, then drove to Strawberry Road where she struck Corporal Vernon’s car.
Investigators are working to determine what caused last week's oil train to derail near the Fayette-Kanawha County line. Federal Railroad Administration acting administrator Sarah Feinberg says crews at the site are making progress on the cleanup and the investigation. But she says snow, ice and cold temperatures have made the work difficult. Investigators are examining evidence gathered from the site, but some of what they need is underneath the derailed tankers. The CSX train was carrying 3 million gallons of crude from North Dakota to Virginia when twenty-seven of the 107 tank cars derailed.
West Virginia American Water has had several water main breaks across the area, and that has led to low water pressure or no water at all for about three thousand customers in Kanawha County. WCHS TV reports the reserve water tanks are now empty. West Virginia American Water said the leaks should be repaired and water service restored to most customers by this morning, but those in affected areas have been asked to boil water until further notice.