December 18, 2014

Two WV bright spots (really)

I've been very impressed by US Attorney Booth Goodwin. He made headlines last month with the indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. This week, it was for the indictment of six owners and managers of Freedom Industries, the company that poisoned the water of 300,000 West Virginians last January. It's nice to see corporate crimes treated as real crimes.

Another WV bright spot is Charleston Gazette reporter and Coal Tattoo blogger Ken Ward, who really shines the light where it needs to go. If you click here, you can hear what he had to say  on NPR today about the chemical spill, the Blankenship indictment and more.

Last year, the WV legislature passed some pretty strong water protection legislation. Word is that incoming Republican leaders want to weaken that legislation in the 2015 session. That should be an interesting fight.

Maybe they should start by poisoning their own water.

December 17, 2014

Laying it out

Earlier this week, I had the chance to participate in a press conference held by Our Children Our Future, the campaign to end child poverty in West Virginia. At the conference, we laid out our legislative goals for the coming year.

Among the top five priorities are:

*securing funding for key family support programs. Over the last few years, funding for these has been cut and then restored after a major hassle. We're hoping for a better solution this time.

*expanding access to early childhood education. A little invested here can yield and save a lot down the road.

*reforming WV's juvenile justice system. I mean really, how much sense does it make to lock up truants at a cost of over $100,000 per year compared to dealing with the problem in the community.

*protecting Medicaid and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) at the state and federal level and expanding access to mental health coverage.

*protecting WV's drinking water. Despite last year's Freedom Industries chemical spill that poisoned the water of 300,000 West Virginians, some in the legislature want to gut last year's water safety bill. We are not amused.

It's going to be a changed landscape next year politically, but we're hoping to find bipartisan support for these key issues.

You can read more here, here, and here.

December 14, 2014

Finally, an important news story

I was a bit surprised today when surfing the web to find a news story on NPR about how to tell whether one's goats are happy. According to the report, goats are in these days, with global population increasing from 600 million to 900 million since 1990.

Apparently, someone has actually studied how to tell whether goats are happy or unhappy. With ours, it's pretty easy to tell, but I'm guessing there may be a big difference between goats as productive livestock and goats as spoiled lawn ornaments who think their humans are stupid waiters.

ON A MORE SOMBER NOTE, it looks like WV's new political majority is planning anti-labor legislation for the 2015 session. That's no surprise.