Monday, April 3, 2017

Senator, Answer the Senator's Question

Senate Republicans Pass Stealth Increase in Property Taxes 
They Let Counties Take The Heat

Senate Republicans narrowly passed SB 609, which would automatically raise every county’s property tax levy to the statutory maximum, and cut the state school aid funding by the amount raised.

How much will your county lose?

The move is a shell game to plug the state’s budget deficit — to the tune of $79.3 million - by forcing local county boards of education take the heat for the huge tax increase. The bill gives counties the option to roll back the levy, but doing so would not restore the state cuts, leaving mammoth holes in local county and BOE budgets. 

The measure narrowly passed, 17-16.  How did your Senator vote?

“We’re voting an 18 percent increase on taxes,” said Senator Robert Plymale, D-Wayne. “I just want to make sure we understand we are voting on a tax increase in this bill.”

Republican supporters struggled to admit that the bill was a tax increase. Asked by Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, if the bill increased taxes, Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, said, “I think it does to the extent that the board of education doesn’t opt to lower that rate down.”

“The money raised by the school levy stays, every dollar, with the county board of education,” insisted Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan. “It does affect, in an inverse way, the amount of money that the school aid formula suggests that we provide to school boards.”  The increase in property taxes will fall hardest on the shoulders of our senior citizens and lower income families.

Well, ok then.  Sounds like a tax increase to us.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

A Trifecta of Micromanaging West Virginia Schools
West Virginia State Senate Debate of Senate Bill 18 on March 29th

SB 18 gives the legislature final say on curriculum  and testing decisions made for West Virginia schools.  Politicians don't need to be making those decisions, educators do.  We need to let teachers teach.

Check out this short video about our Senate Democrats fight against SB 18, which Republican Education Chair, Senator Kenny Mann said was, "not needed."

Senator Mike Romano called it, "a mandate for micromanagement of our education system."

Republican Senator Patricia Rucker: "We get to dictate what standards and curriculum they use." (She home schools her kids.)

Democrat Leader Roman Prezioso: “This bill is ill-conceived, irresponsible and unconstitutional. They hit the trifecta.”

It passed 18-16. #BadIdeasFactory

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Republicans Use Rare Procedural Maneuver To Avoid Amendments 
to Cancer Creek Bill

After Judiciary Committee testimony highlighted water quality concerns, bill
was voted out of committee with no opportunity for further debate or amendments.

West Virginia State Capitol
March 23, 2017

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee used a rare procedural maneuver to end debate they didn't like on House Bill 2506, the “Cancer Creek" bill. After about two hours of testimony, mostly from opponents of the bill, Senator Randy Smith, Republican-Tucker, moved to approve the bill, which ended debate and eliminated the potential for committee members to amend the legislation.

The bill changes the criteria used to set water permit limits for pollutants from the current 7Q10 — which sets the standard based on the lowest seven-day consecutive flow of a stream — to solely the “harmonic mean” standard, which calculates the average flow of a stream. 

All surrounding states use a combination of “7Q10” or a similar low flow criteria for non-carcinogen pollution and “harmonic flow” for carcinogens.  Concerned citizens testifying about the bill pointed out this could lead to lowering the state’s water quality standards to dangerous levels, especially during drought conditions when water flows are low. 

The motion to vote on the bill passed eight to six. The motion to actually send the bill to the floor passed 10 to 5.

UPDATE March 27:  Democrats tried to amend the bill on 2nd reading from the floor.  All amendments were rejected with votes going along Party lines:

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