We’ll kick off today’s lunchtime rundown with a fantastic piece by our former colleague Ry Rivard detailing Sen. Jay Rockefeller‘s journey from the halls of privilege to the hills and hollows of West Virginia.
He graduated from the prestigious Exeter prep school in New Hampshire and started at Harvard at 16.
At Harvard, he said he was a sought-after recruit for the university’s social clubs, which were elite circles within the elite circle of Harvard.
“Social clubs did nothing. In fact, they had a policy they didn’t even look at public school students, they only looked at preppies – which is pretty disgusting when you think about it – and ‘diversity’ was a word nobody seemed to be able to spell,” Rockefeller said.
He became a club president. They gave him an office.
What was the office for? He said he wasn’t sure.
There was a rope he could pull and order a drink. But Rockefeller isn’t a drinker.
“It was all the worst things you could think about life at a prestigious American university in the middle of the last century,” he said.
He needed out.
Click here to read Ry’s full story.
Dave has three stories in today’s paper. First, lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced bills meant to usurp federal gun control legislation. A bill introduced by Del. Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, states no public employees can enforce “any act, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government” concerning firearms, related equipment or ammunition that is made or owned in West Virginia and remains exclusively within its borders.
Under the bill, a public employee (we’re talking sheriffs, deputies, state police, anybody) who enforces one of these federal laws would be guilty of a felony and could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Also from Dave this morning, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants to use interest earned on one of the state’s Rainy Day Funds to pay our Medicaid debts. Rainy Day Fund B earned $36 million in interest last fiscal year. It’s a hefty sum of money but not nearly enough to cover next year’s expected $96 million Medicaid shortfall, which could be even larger if Tomblin decides to extend Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
And lastly, here’s Dave’s story about “sexting” bills working their way through the system. Later today, Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, is expected to introduce a bill supported by Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants that would make distribution of sexually-explicit material a jailable offense for minors. Del. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, is expected to introduce similar legislation in the House. Dave reports:
The legal system lets Plants prosecute adults who send nude pictures to minors. But it lacks teeth when it comes to photographs of minors exchanged between minors, he said. It can fall under harassment, he said, but he wants clearer standards and consequences for the growing problem.
If the measures become law, “sexting” – the act of sending sexually explicit photographs through digital communication – between minors could be a misdemeanor or felony, Plants said. Each situation would be taken on a case-by-case basis, and would be handled in juvenile court, he said.
It’s up to a juvenile court judge to decide punishment in those cases, but Plants’ law could send offenders to a correctional facility for up to one year.
The intent is not to send children to jail, Plants said. Because it would be handled in juvenile court, the records would be sealed and would not follow a person for the rest of his or her life. But there needs to be some sort of legal deterrent for the activity, Plants said.
My story in today’s Daily Mail focuses on tax credits available to movie and television production companies who choose to do business in the Mountain State. Under a bill proposed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the cap on those credits will be lowered to $5 million next fiscal year, cutting the available credits in half.
Jason Pizatella, Tomblin’s legislative director said the bill is part of the administration’s effort to trim the state’s budget for next fiscal year.
He said the legislation likely would not affect the number of productions coming to the state.
“They never came close to using the cap that’s currently written,” he said.
Pam Haynes, director of the West Virginia Film Office, said the office has never exceeded $5 million in tax credits. Its biggest year was 2010, when it handed out $3.9 million in credits. Most of that money went to Paramount Pictures for the filming of “Super 8.”