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Phil Kabler

Statehouse Reporter
  • Phone 304-348-1220
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Kabler, Phil

Value of utility property grows in WV


Assessed value of all property owned by public utilities in the state grew by $530 million to $10.04 billion in the past year, as Marcellus Shale counties continued to see major investments while southern coalfield count...

Coalition campaigns for tax credit for low-income workers in WV


A coalition of 18 citizen and community organizations kicked off a campaign Monday for passage of a state Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, unveiling a website that shows the economic impact of the credit,...

Kessler urges more WV funding for PEIA


Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, urged the Tomblin administration to find additional state funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency, to alleviate the need to impose $120 million of benefits cuts ...

State awards $7.5M contract for Capitol buildings project


More construction is coming to the state Capitol complex with the awarding Thursday of a $7,478,000 contract to demolish and rebuild four floors in the Buildings 5 and 6 office towers.

The Department of Administrat...

State ‘far behind’ on technology, workforce, lawmakers told


West Virginia is so far behind in developing assets — both in technology and workforce — for information technology based “knowledge-sector” jobs that there’s no easy solution to help t...

Wages, safety lower in right-to-work states, lawmakers told


Legislators heard the pros and cons Sunday of proposed legislation to make West Virginia a right-to-work state, with proponents saying it will help grow the state’s economy, and opponents calling it an effort to d...

Grievances over biweekly pay stall after unsuccessful mediation


A personnel grievance filed by 24 Department of Transportation employees who contend they have been shorted about six days of pay this calendar year when they were switched from twice-monthly to biweekly pay has ended wi...

WV lawmaker: ‘Sins of the past’ caused PEIA funding cuts


Teachers, public employees and retirees made clear at Tuesday’s Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board public hearing that they want the Legislature to increase funding for PEIA to alleviate a planned $12...

Raucous crowd at PEIA hearing calls on Legislature to prevent benefit cuts


A large, loud and raucous crowd of teachers, public employees and retirees had a clear message Tuesday for the Legislature: Come up with adequate funding for their health insurance coverage.

Tuesday’s public...

WV drops to D-level rating in government openness, transparency

- Nationally, however, W.Va. moves up from 27th to 17th

Large, angry crowd expected for PEIA rate hike hearing Tuesday


Statewide public hearings on the proposed $120 million in benefits cuts for Public Employees Insurance Agency coverage come to Charleston Tuesday evening, where a large and angry crowd can be expected, based on the first...

Ethics commission says Gupta may accept cash award


State Public Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta will be able to accept a $2,000 cash award as part of winning a national public health service prize after all, following approval Thursday from the state Ethics Commission.

WV DMV offices might feature commercials on video screens


Paid commercials soon will be featured on video screens at West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles regional offices, after the Ethics Commission on Thursday approved the arrangement — over strong objections from ...

State retirement board out of teachers’ lawsuit


After seven years of litigation, the Consolidated Public Retirement Board has settled its part of a class-action lawsuit by public school employees who contend they were misled into investing in a low-earning retirement ...

Plunging energy prices lead to tax shortfall in WV


West Virginia tax collections continued to lag in October, as extremely low prices for natural gas and coal continue to drag down severance tax collections, state Department of Revenue officials said Tuesday.

For t...

State employee pay switch plan placed on hold


A controversial plan to switch thousands of state employees from semi-monthly to biweekly pay next month is on hold, after the state Enterprise Resource Planning Board voted Monday to delay the switchover.

State Au...

Interim director named at Lottery


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Friday appointed John Myers as acting director of the West Virginia Lottery.

Myers, who has been with the Lottery for 7½ years and has been assistant director since 2008, succeeds John Mu...

Tourism advertising grants awarded, casinos to split $500,000


State Tourism Commission members Wednesday approved $1.46 million of advertising matching grants for 21 tourism venues or events, with the state’s four racetrack casinos splitting $500,000 of that total.


Judges will hold off on petition over pay until meeting


Family Court judges decided Wednesday to postpone filing a petition with the state Supreme Court seeking a writ of prohibition to block the next phase of state employees to be switched from twice monthly to biweekly pay ...

Musgrave lauded as he leaves Lottery director post


Closing out an unprecedented nearly 19-year career that saw the state Lottery grow into a $1 billion-a-year enterprise, retiring Lottery Director John Musgrave recalled Tuesday balking when then-Gov. Cecil Underwood offe...

Judges concerned about new pay schedule to file petition to block transition


Family Court judges are expected to file a petition with the state Supreme Court as early as Tuesday or Wednesday seeking a writ of prohibition to block the next phase of state employees to be switched from twice monthly...

Online voter registration successful, Tennant says


In the three weeks since its launch, online voter registration has been a success, allowing several hundred West Virginians to register to vote using their computers, smartphones or tablets, Secretary of State Natalie Te...

Committee opens WV tax reform ideas to public comment


After six months of input from economists, academics and government officials, the Select Committee on Tax Reform on Tuesday opened the floor to 33 individuals and representatives of various groups and organizations to h...

Greyhound breeders urge WV lawmakers to keep industry alive


A number of greyhound owners and breeders Monday urged legislators to continue greyhound racing in the state, disputing a state-funded study that found the industry is in sharp decline and survives in West Virginia only ...

Audit: Shepherd University staff misused state P-Card credit cards


Misuse of state P-Card credit cards by staff for inappropriate purchases — in one case, including condoms and sexual enhancement aids — continues to be a problem at Shepherd University, legislative auditors...

State employee biweekly pay periods may be illegal, lawmakers told


A switch to 26 biweekly pay periods a year for salaried state employees may be illegal, since employees effectively receive a bonus for the 365th day of each year, legislative auditors said Sunday.

State law prohib...

Official says economic outlook downgrade disappointing, understandable


State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said a downgrade in West Virginia’s economic outlook from stable to negative is disappointing, but understandable — and shouldn’t hurt state efforts to recruit...

PEIA proposes $120M in benefit cuts for employees, retirees


With no likelihood of additional funding from the West Virginia government, and with its Reserve Fund already spent down to the minimum balance, the Public Employees Insurance Agency has no options but to make “dr...

Biweekly pay switch still ahead for WV state workers


Despite objections from legislative leaders and state Treasurer John Perdue, plans are moving forward to convert a second wave of state employees from semi-monthly to biweekly pay on Dec. 11.

Perdue last month aske...

Lottery conviction having no effect on WV players, director says


News of an Iowa man’s conviction for rigging one multi-state lottery drawing and accusations this week that he previously rigged two other drawings have not raised concerns among West Virginia Lottery players, Dir...

Group seeks legislation to end WV greyhound racing


It was no coincidence that the national board of directors of anti-greyhound racing organization Grey2K USA selected Charleston for its annual meeting.

“This is a top state for us, absolutely,” Presid...

Gupta award prompts ethics discussion on cash prizes for public employees

- Officials to decide if Gupta may accept cash prize along with private sector award

Details of Marmet mayor’s ethics agreement unveiled


Marmet Mayor Bill Pauley has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine, accept a public reprimand, and complete an ethics training class as part of an Ethics Commission conciliation agreement over violations of the state Ethics Act.

State says new prevailing wage rates accurate; legislators disagree


West Virginia’s new prevailing wage rates were unveiled Wednesday — rates that the research director of WorkForce West Virginia said are an accurate measure of the true wages being paid to construction work...

Prevailing wage rates to be unveiled Wednesday


After months of controversy, heated debate and even a subpoena, the state’s new prevailing wage rates will be unveiled by WorkForce West Virginia today.

The agency will file the new wage rates for workers on...

Marmet mayor accepts deal over ethics complaints


Marmet Mayor Bill Pauley will enter into a conciliation agreement on two counts of violating the state Ethics Act for using public office for private gain, Ethics Commission Executive Director Rebecca Stepto said Monday....

W.Va. Lottery Commission says revenue continues to slide


West Virginia Lottery revenues continued to slide in August, falling 2.5 percent from July and 9 percent from August 2014, figures presented to the Lottery Commission on Wednesday show.

Gross revenue of $95.42 mill...

House Speaker Armstead says Planned Parenthood has lost public confidence


House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said Wednesday he has heard concerns from many legislators and many West Virginians about giving any state funding — even a small amount — to a local affiliate of Plan...

W.Va. House speaker targets Planned Parenthood’s state funding


House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, announced Tuesday that he is calling on the Department of Health and Human Resources to detail all state funding it provides to Planned Parenthood in West Virginia and to determine ...

Racing committee again asks for more time on revitalization report


Plans to unveil proposals to revitalize the state’s thoroughbred and greyhound racing industries didn’t come together Tuesday, as the 20-member panel studying the issue asked the Racing Commission for more ...

Survey says W.Va. ranks 13th in tax fairness


West Virginia ranks 13th in the U.S. in fairness of its state and local taxes, a WalletHub survey released Monday shows.

Ranking states based on how progressive their state and local tax rates are — with tax...

Benefit cuts loom for WV health insurer PEIA


With no new state funding available, the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board will have to come up with about $60 million in benefit cuts to the health insurance plan for the 2016-17 plan year, PEIA Executive ...

West Virginia’s reliance on ‘sin taxes’ questioned


West Virginia ranks third in the United States in the percentage of state revenue that comes from so-called “sin taxes,” lawmakers considering ways to revamp the state’s tax system were told Tuesday....

Coalition argues for tax changes ‘that work’


Offering a counterpoint to the ongoing meetings of the legislative Joint Committee on Tax Reform, a coalition of education, faith, labor and community-based organizations called on legislators Tuesday to pursue tax chang...

State, coal group working to lower equipment taxes


State Tax Division officials are working with the West Virginia Coal Association to come up with ways to reduce valuations for coal mining equipment located in idled mines, Property Tax Division Director Jeff Amburgey to...

Lawmakers say support growing for state roads fix


State Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall said Monday he believes public sentiment is growing for the Legislature to come up with ways to fix state roads, even if it comes with a price tag.

“They’re not...

Lawmakers consider prevailing wage options


Legislators were briefed Monday on options for challenging new prevailing wage rates to be filed by WorkForce West Virginia later this month.

“At this point, any legal challenge to the methodology would have...

Audit: State can't properly maintain property

- Many buildings in need of major repairs, with no funding available

Pay schedule change could cost state $47M, lawmakers told


A change in the way state employees are paid could end up costing the state more than $47 million in increased pay for salaried employees over the next 10 years, Legislative Manager Aaron Allred advised legislative leade...

Tomblin announces recommendations for grant funding


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Thursday announced 11 state recommendations for the Appalachian Regional Commission Investment Program grants, totaling more than $4.7 million in grant funding.

The West Virginia Development O...