Little late with the lunchtime rundown today, but an announcement from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and debate in the House and a literal log jam on the highway had everyone running a little behind today.
Following the fourth death of a West Virginia coal miner in the last two weeks, Tomblin signed an executive order mandating a stand-down. The measure means every coal mine will shut down today for one hour to discuss safety. That will probably happen at shift change, typically around 3 or 4 p.m.
Additionally, mine safety officials will visit every mining operation in the state in coming days to discuss safety procedures. Zack listened in on the governor’s announcement and will have a story soon.
As expected, the first bill officially approved by the House didn’t go through without a fight. GOP members blasted Democrats, saying their priorities were on giving elected officials more money and not on unemployment. Democrats fired back, saying the money couldn’t be spent for anything else this budget cycle and the affected magistrates have extremely difficult jobs.
Debate last more than 90 minutes with close to 25 delegates speaking, and was borderline nasty (politically speaking, anyway). Some GOP lawmakers saw remarks about money previously going to districts of delegates who did not support the pay raise as personal attacks. Democrats saw it as hypocrisy.
Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, was called out for his voting record on state budgets. He wasn’t happy about it; he thinks passing a pay raise bill set the wrong tone for the session, one that’s going to see increased debate anyway with Republican gains in the House.