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Phil Kabler

Staff Writer
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Kabler, Phil

Statehouse Beat: Nearing midway point, session still hasn’t dealt with most pressing issues


For years, at about this time every session, longtime Daily Mail political columnist Richard Grimes would write about how the session is almost halfway over, and nothing’s happened yet.

Beckley lawyer to receive public financing in Supreme Court race


State Election Commissioners Friday certified that Beckley lawyer and former legislator Bill Wooton has qualified for public campaign financing for the 2016 state Supreme Court race — over objections from challeng...

Amendments could alter WV concealed-carry bill


West Virginia House of Delegates members will take up at least five amendments Monday intended to temper a bill that would allow adults over 21 to carry concealed firearms without a state permit, background check or gun ...

WV Dept. of Education and Arts officials dispute budget waste study


West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts representatives took umbrage Thursday over a recent report that declared state funding for the arts is wasteful.

WV’s prevailing wage repeal goes to Tomblin


A repeal of West Virginia’s 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act is headed to the governor, after passing the Senate Thursday on a party-line 18-16 vote.

Prevailing wage: WV Senate nixes using federal Davis Bacon Act rates


Legislation to repeal West Virginia’s 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act (HB 4005) is one 18-16 vote away from heading to the governor, after the Senate rejected Wednesday, on party-line 18-16 votes, amendments intend...

Jan. revenue figures show no hope for WV’s economic turnaround


West Virginia’s tax collections in January were not as bad as prior months but provided no real signs of hope for an economic turnaround, state Revenue officials said Wednesday.

Election panel reviews public financing complaints in Supreme Court campaign


State Election Commission members spent all day Wednesday reviewing 155 challenges of contributions to Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin’s re-election campaign — objections that could disqualify him from...

Legislative panels at odds on WV Turnpike tolls


Two legislative committees are taking opposing positions on the question of West Virginia Turnpike tolls: Should they stay or should they go?

Legislators reject financial impact request for prevailing wage bill


Democrats in the Legislature could be feeling like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” reliving the same day over and over, as leadership on Tuesday again rejected their requests for data on ...

Federal funds stable for highways; state funds declining


Passage last fall of the federal five-year transportation funding plan, or FAST Act, provides some stability in state highways funding, but does little in the way of providing needed additional revenue, Transportation Se...

Prevailing wage repeal passes WV Senate committee


Legislation to repeal the state’s 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act roared through its only committee assignment in the Senate on Monday, after calls for a jobs impact study, a Fiscal Note on the bill’s financi...

Statehouse Beat: Small number of voters driving state change



Conservative group targets colleges, public broadcasting, arts funding as waste


A report released Thursday by two conservative government watchdog organizations claims $330 million in wasteful spending by state agencies.

WV advances bill on concealed-carry without permit


For a second straight year, West Virginia lawmakers have taken up a bill to allow people to carry concealed handguns without obtaining permits.

House Judiciary Committee members took up the bill (

WV House votes to repeal prevailing wage


The House of Delegates voted Wednesday to repeal West Virginia’s just-revised Prevailing Wage Act, even though eight Republicans joined the House’s 36 Democrats in voting against the measure.

Prevailing wage repeal effort ready for WV House vote


Legislation to repeal West Virginia’s 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act (HB 4005) will be up for a passage vote in the House of Delegates today, after Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, quashed an amendment to instead ...

Burdette says further Commerce cuts will mean layoffs


After absorbing a total of 21 percent budget cuts over the past three years, Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said department agencies are at the point where any additional reductions will require layoffs and eliminatio...

Senators modify bill to update trade law


Senators Tuesday modified a bill originally intended to repeal the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (SB259), in what they said is an effort to modernize the 1939 law designed to protect consumers.

Stagnant salaries, benefit cuts would be ‘perfect storm’ for teachers


A combination of no salary increases and $120 million in health insurance benefits cuts would create a “perfect storm” for teachers in West Virginia, the state superintendent of schools said Monday.

Statehouse Beat: Greenbrier owner’s financial filing worthy of note


We don’t get many billionaires around these parts, so the filing of gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice’s financial disclosure with the state Ethics Commission is worthy of a column mention.


Former WV Senate clerk Holmes dies


Darrell Holmes, known for his humor and affable manner during a 24-year tenure as Senate clerk, died Friday. He was 81.

Holmes was elected clerk in 1989 and served until his retirement in January 2013, overseeing a...

Auditor says state agencies may have unspent money at hand


State agencies have squirreled away a total of $288.8 million in unexpended appropriations, according to a report by state Auditor Glen Gainer.

Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, said the Legislature may ...

Alternate PEIA plan approved, if Legislature approves tobacco tax


State and public school employees with health insurance through the Public Employees Insurance Agency could be trading $120 million in severe benefits cuts for about $14 million in higher premiums next year, under a plan...

WV has a brief, colorful history of deadlocked Senates


From the 16-day, 111 roll-call vote deadlock to elect a president in 1913 to the infamous Senate “kidnapping” two years earlier, West Virginia has a brief but colorful history of deadlocked state Senates.

Request for study of prevailing wage repeal’s impact denied


A bill to repeal the state’s 81-year-old Prevailing Wage Act rolled through the House Government Organization Committee Wednesday, after requests for analysis of the bill’s financial impact on the state were ...

Tomblin proposal would ease pain for PEIA insurees


Instead of severe increases in co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums that were part of a proposed $120 million of benefits cuts, people covered by the Public Employees Insurance Agency should see small premium ...

Senator wants to repeal law that prevents retailers from selling goods below cost


Just as he believes the state should not be involved in setting wages for construction workers on state-funded projects, Senate Government Organization Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, wants to repeal a 75-year-old stat...

West Virginians for Better Transportation rally for roads at Capitol


In what has seemingly become an annual ritual at the Capitol, members of West Virginians for Better Transportation rallied Monday for increased funding to repair and maintain the state's deteriorating road system.

Ketchum: WV Supreme Court budget is up because of mandates


In a year when virtually every state agency and department is facing budget cuts, the state Supreme Court's 2016-17 budget is slated to grow by $4.2 million to $143.6 million — but Chief Justice Menis Ketchum told ...

Statehouse Beat: Tomblin handled budget deficit plans well


Consensus from longtime Statehouse observers is that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin did a masterful job of framing the debate on how to address the combined $820 million of funding deficits in the current and upcoming 2016...

Debate on prevailing wage repeal starts


House of Delegates members Friday opened debate on a bill to repeal the state’s Prevailing Wage Act (HB 4005), launching what one labor leader described as the second phase of a two-pronged legislative attack on...

Highway funding left out of Tomblin’s State of the State speech


One topic was conspicuously absent in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State address Wednesday: Funding for the state’s deteriorating highways.

“I was very disappointed,” said Jan Vi...

Despite troubles, Tomblin emphasizes positives in State of the State


In his sixth and final State of the State address Wednesday evening, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin acknowledged the current tough times in West Virginia, but urged the state to draw inspiration from “incredible West Virgi...

Tomblin budget would raise taxes on tobacco, telecommunications


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin unveiled a budget plan Wednesday that would close more than $820 million in funding shortfalls in this year’s and next year’s budgets, in part, by raising taxes on tobacco and putting ...

Deficit looms over Tomblin’s final State of the State


Legislators return today, for the second session of the 82nd Legislature, facing uncertainties over West Virginia’s severe budget deficit and control of the Senate.

The 60-day session convenes at noon, and w...

DOH to renew, then reconsider Courtesy Patrol contract


The state Division of Highways will renew its $3.18 million contract with the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia to operate the state Courtesy Patrol for another year this spring — and then will conduct ...

Fewer enrolling in WV colleges, but number of graduates has improved


Enrollment at state four-year and community colleges has dropped, but the number of graduates has improved, state higher education officials told legislators Monday in the annual presentation of the state Higher Educatio...

Proposed changes to state Ethics Act divide lawmakers


House and Senate Judiciary Committee members were divided Monday over two proposed changes to the state Ethics Act.

That included proposed legislation that would ban registered lobbyists from contributing to campai...

Statehouse Beat: Budget holes make for bad sessions


As the 2016 regular session of the Legislature approaches, I find myself with an unusually high sense of dread.

Legislative sessions when the economy is down and the state budget is full of holes are always unpleas...

Tomblin looks ahead, reflects on life in politics


As Senate Finance Committee chairman, Senate president and governor, Earl Ray Tomblin has overseen the drafting of West Virginia state budgets for 30 years.

But a projected $353 million deficit could make putting ...

First day of increased WV Capitol security runs smoothly


On the first morning of metal detectors and X-ray machines at the West Virginia Capitol, state officials said everything appeared to go smoothly, with no backups or incidents at the West Wing security checkpoint.


Ex-Boone ambulance director’s ethics deal OK’d


Ethics Commission members have approved two conciliation agreements for violations of the state Ethics Act, including a $5,000 fine and public reprimand for the former executive director of the Boone County Ambulance Aut...

Tomblin to address WV’s $353M budget shortfall next week


With December marking another dismal month for tax collection, West Virginia Department of Revenue officials are now projecting the Mountain State will finish the 2015-16 budget year on June 30 with a funding deficit of ...

Ten new hires to staff Capitol security entrances


Protective Services is hiring 10 staffers to man the two new security entrances to the state Capitol.

Initially, Protective Services will hire five new Capitol Police officers — at starting salaries of $30,0...

Hall quits WV Senate; justices likely to rule on replacement


After wavering last week, Sen. Daniel Hall, R-Wyoming, has followed through on his announcement that he would resign his West Virginia Senate seat to take a job as a state liaison with the National Rifle Association.


Proposed law would allow more lottery machines to increase revenue


During its 14-year history, Limited Video Lottery has been a reliable source of revenue for the state, declining only slightly while racetrack casino profits have plunged.

In the 2014-15 budget year, LVL provided ...

Phoenix offers WVU fans plenty of pre-game activities for Cactus Bowl


As Mountaineer fans make their fourth bowl trip to Arizona, they’ll find plenty of pre-game activities in Phoenix, leading up to the 2016 Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2.

“Alumni and fans, regardless of where t...

Pew report: WV recession recovery below average


A new report from Pew Charitable Trusts shows that revenue in a majority of states has recovered from the recession of 2008-09, although recoveries have varied widely, with revenue in 21 states still below the pre-recess...

WV lottery director says revenue still falling at ‘about 4 percent’


Lottery revenues continue to decline at a steady rate, but the economic downturn in the southern coalfields has not had a noticeable impact, Lottery Commission Acting Director John Myers said Friday.