Panhandle Progressive

How Secure Are West Virginia Elections?

The Mueller Report released earlier this year detailed numerous ways that Russian operatives sought to interfere with U.S state and local election apparatus in 2016. A Russian entity called the GRU targeted state boards of elections, secretaries of state and county governments with the intent of gaining access to databases of registered voters. In June 2016 they compromised the voter database of the Illinois Board of Elections and extracted information on millions of voters before the intrusion was blocked. Hundreds of outsiders probe West Virginia’s election computer security system daily. Just how secure will the West Virginia election process will be in 2020?

Economic Development Depends On Human Capital

I recently attended the yearly Economic Outlook Conference conducted by the WVU College of Business and Economics. The Conference is presented in five regions around the state. This one focused on the Eastern Panhandle. The news was mixed, with positive jobs and income growth in the Panhandle and North Central West Virginia while the state’s coalfields continue to lag in all measures. But the presenters made one powerful point that was probably unexpected in a room full of business men and women. Our economic future depends on the development of our human capital.

Finding A Practical and Effective Solution for Carbon Emissions

Can we talk? We need to stop wasting time and come up with a way to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – now. The recent U.N. report on climate change should scare us into action if nothing else has. Earth’s surface temperatures are virtually certain to rise at accelerating rates between now and 2050, with many serious heat-related consequences, including the disruption of agriculture, wildfires and sea level rise. These will threaten world economic and political stability. This is no hoax. Existential threat would be a better term.

Impeachment Trial of Justice Elizabeth Walker – Day Two

The historic impeachment trial of Justice Beth Walker resumed on October 2, 2018. This trial day was short, consisting of only one witness called by the House impeachment managers and closing arguments by the parties. In a dramatic vote around mid-day, the Articles of Impeachment regarding Walker were rejected by a vote of 32 to 1.

Impeachment Trial of Justice Elizabeth Walker – Day One

Beth Walker is the first of four Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to face an impeachment trial in the state Senate.  Her trial began Monday, October 1, 2018. She is alleged to have failed to control wasteful spending on working lunches which the Justices enjoyed on argument days and other days when there were administrative of judicial conferences. She is also alleged to have wastefully spent $130,000 on the renovation of her office. During the first hearing day it became clear how the House impeachment managers will seek to convict Walker.

Kavanaugh's Disqualifying Flaw

Yesterday, much of the country was riveted to their televisions, or other devices, watching the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I went a number of places last evening and this was all anyone could talk about. The ostensible issue is whether Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, committed a sexual assault on Ford in 1982 as she claims. The larger and more important issue is what kind of person should serve on the Supreme Court.

SNAP Benefits, Work Requirements and West Virginia’s Hungry

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the centerpiece of the nation’s food security safety net. In FY 2016 SNAP benefits, formerly called food stamps, provided $500 million in nutrition assistance to low income West Virginians. On average, 358,000 West Virginians received benefits each month, roughly 20% of our population. These benefits amount to about $1.29 per meal. Yet our state government seems determined to cut recipients from the SNAP rolls. Governor Justice recently signed a law imposing tighter work requirements on under-employed individuals, justified entirely by the old “welfare Cadillac” myth about recipients taking advantage of public benefits. These new state restrictions will reduce the number of SNAP recipients among the vulnerable low-wage population. Furthermore, the 2018 federal Farm Bill is proposed to do much the same. In the next several weeks, conferees from the U.S. House and Senate will meet to work out whether the Farm Bill will impose not just temporary disqualification for certain under-employed people, but actual penalties. This harsh approach was favored by House Republicans, including Congressman Alex Mooney, for the emptiest of reasons.