Panhandle Progressive

West Virginia's Green Amendment

On February 11, 2019, thirty-two West Virginia legislators -- all Democrats -- introduced Resolution 25 in the West Virginia House of Delegates. The Resolution called for an amendment to the West Virginia Constitution creating a right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the environment. Modeled on a similar amendment in Pennsylvania, the “Green Amendment” declares that these public natural resources are the common property of the people and appoints the State of West Virginia as trustee of those resources. These declarations would have sweeping legal consequences if the Green Amendment is adopted.

National Inequality by the Numbers

Inequality of both income and wealth is a serious problem in West Virginia and the nation. This post will present some statistics about inequality in the United States that will worry anyone concerned about the future of our society. Income inequality is different than wealth inequality. Income includes earned income like wages and salaries, as well as passive income from interest on a savings account, dividends from stock, rent, and profits from selling something for more than you paid for it. In essence, income is what a taxpayer reports on her tax return each year. Income inequality is the unequal distribution of income in the population.

West Virginia Community & Technical Colleges: Training for Real Jobs

In 2015, the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy published its eighth annual report on the state’s economy. The report focused on West Virginia’s labor force participation rate (LFPR), the lowest in the nation -- where it has ranked since 1976. Using a regression analysis, the Center isolated several factors that are drivers of the low rate. One of the most important was inadequate education.

Repeal of Obamacare: A Disaster for West Virginia

In January 2016, Congress passed a budget reconciliation bill repealing much of the Affordable Care Act by simply removing the funding for it. President Obama vetoed the bill. Now congressional Republicans threaten to do the same in the upcoming new session. Most likely, Congress will not have a replacement for the ACA ready to go for quite some time. Republican leaders propose to make some provisions of the repeal effective immediately and defer the effectiveness of other provisions until a replacement bill can be passed.

Broadband in West Virginia

On December 4, 2016 the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Technology met to receive the report of the new Broadband Enhancement Council. Unfortunately, few legislators showed up but among those who did were Del. Paul Espinosa (R – Jefferson, 66) and Del. Sarah Blair (R – Berkeley, 59). Many Democrats were defeated in the election and new Delegates have not yet been assigned to committees.