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Today in the Legislature

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 01:48 AM

House Adopts Articles of Impeachment Against State Supreme Court Justices

The West Virginia House of Delegates voted to impeach all remaining West Virginia Supreme Court justices.

The House gaveled in at 10 a.m. and introduced House Resolution 202, regarding the impeachment of state Supreme Court justices. Delegates approved a motion to divide the question and debated, amended and voted on the articles separately.

In Monday’s hearings, the House adopted 11 of 14 Articles of Impeachment-- rejecting one and withdrawing two articles. Of the adopted articles, suspended Justice Allen Loughry was named in seven, Justice Robin Davis in four, Chief Justice Margaret Workman in three, and Justice Beth Walker in one— which included articles that individually focused on particular justices and some that combined them.

Former Justice Menis Ketchum resigned and was not part of impeachment proceedings. Ketchum faces a charge under a federal information and Loughry faces several charges in a federal indictment.  

In a 64-33 vote, the House adopted Article 1, regarding Loughry’s $386,000 office renovation. This included the purchase of a $32,000 couch, $1,700 throw pillows, and $33,750 on a new floor including a West Virginia county medallion.

Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, made an amendment to censure Loughry instead of impeach—a motion he made for similar renovations-related articles for other justices. However, Fast’s amendment was defeated.

House Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, said there was evidence presented of a plan to spend down a $29 million reserve that the state Supreme Court had accumulated between 2007 and 2010 because of a concern that the Senate would present a constitutional amendment to take back budget control of the state’s highest court. The Legislature adopted such an amendment during the last legislative session, which will go to voters in the upcoming election.

Shott said he felt the expenditure was “an irresponsible spending of taxpayer money and certainly a betrayal of trust.”

In a 56-41 vote, the House also adopted Article 2, which focused on Davis’ renovations. The article said Davis spent a total of $500,000, which included the purchase of a $20,000 oval rug, an $8,000 desk chair and $23,000 in design services.

Shott said he was shocked by Davis’ office.

“It was shocking,” Shott said. “It was like a Star Trek set.”

Those who opposed this article and similar ones dealing with renovations, expressed concerns that spending doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.

“If you go after spending, you’re going to have to start impeaching Board of Public Works members to be consistent,” Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton said, later adding. “Punishment should meet the crime. This spending makes you want to barf but there are other remedies than going down this rabbit hole.”

A few articles against Loughry passed unanimously. One, Article 3, dealt with Loughry taking home a Cass Gilbert desk, valued at around $42,000, which he kept at his home for more than four years.

The House also unanimously adopted Article 8—which said Loughry reserved state vehicles without providing destinations and used a state vehicle and state gas card to drive to book signings at The Greenbrier— and Article 9, which said Loughry used state computers for personal use at home.

In a 94-2 vote, the House also adopted Article 10, which said Loughry made false statements under oath before the House Finance Committee where he denied involvement in his renovations.

Three articles concerned the overpayment of senior status judges. Article 4, against Workman and Davis, said when both served as chief justice, they approved contracts resulting in the overpayment of senior status judges. There was debate on the clarity of the statute. Those who supported the article said state law prevents senior status judges from being paid more than a sitting judge when also taking into account retirement.

However, Delegate Joe Canestraro, D-Marshall, said the argument was flawed because Davis and Workman did not personally benefit from the action.

“The only person guilty would be the judges if they made false representations to get that,” he said, later adding. “As a prosecutor, I would have to treat this as we’ve said many times, as an indictment. This wouldn’t pass a motion to dismiss in criminal court.”

The House adopted Article 4 in a 62-34 vote.

Three other articles—Article 5-7—also focused on the overpayment of senior status judges but individually focused on Davis, Workman, and Loughry, respectively. The House adopted all three with a 61-35 vote for Article 5, 63-34 vote for Article 6, and 51-45 for Article 7.

The House withdrew Article 11, which said Loughry used state funds to pay for the framing of personal items.

The House rejected Article 12 regarding Walker’s office renovations, which totaled $131,000. Shott asked the chamber to adopt the article, saying Walker’s office was renovated over a seven-year time when former Justice Brent Benjamin was in office. This article was rejected in a 44-51 vote.

House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, objected to the article, saying Walker’s spending did not compare to others.

“Some of the furniture purchased—you could buy multiple pieces before you could buy the one couch in the earlier article,” Cowles said. “This is a fraction of the spending in the Davis impeachment article, which was $500,000, and it is a fraction, perhaps a third of the spending in the Loughry article of impeachment. I do have an issue if we add in Benjamin’s spending and remodeling over a seven-year period. You can’t hold Justice Walker responsible for remodeling done over seven years ago.”

Following the rejection of Article 12, Shott moved to withdraw Article 13, which focused on Workman’s renovations, which totaled $111,000. Shott’s motion to withdraw was approved.

The House adopted Article 14, against all remaining justices, saying justices failed to adopt travel policies, report taxable fringe benefits including vehicle use and regular lunches on their W-2s, provide supervision of state purchasing cards, provide supervision over record keeping with state vehicles, provide supervision of state property, and failed to provide supervision over purchasing procedures.

Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, made a motion to remove Walker from the article but the House rejected this motion.

After recessing until 12:15 a.m., the House took up an amendment proposed by Delegate Michael Folk, R-Berkeley. Folk’s amendment proposed a new article against Walker for hiring outside counsel to craft a legal opinion of the court at a cost of $10,000.

During last week’s House Judiciary Committee, members rejected a similar article. Folk’s amendment was rejected in a 26-70 vote.

The House also introduced House Resolution 203, recommending public reprimand and censure of all remaining state Supreme Court justices.  This resolution was adopted in a 95-1 vote.

The House introduced House Resolution 204, which recommended censure of Ketchum and former Justice Brent Benjamin. This was referred to House Judiciary.

The House also introduced House Bill 201, which provided for the special election of state Supreme Court justices when a vacancy has occurred as the result of impeachment. Sponaugle moved to suspend the constitutional rules to take the bill up for immediate consideration. Cowles moved to table that motion, which was approved. This bill was referred to House Judiciary. 



Tuesday, August 07, 2018 - 06:58 PM

Judiciary Adopts 14 Articles of Impeachment Against W.Va. Supreme Court Justices

The House Judiciary Committee adopted 14 articles of impeachment against West Virginia Supreme Court justices and rejected two articles.

The committee convened its eighth day of impeachment hearings Tuesday, where it presented 14 original Articles of Impeachment. The committee later voted to add another two more articles against suspended Justice Allen Loughry.

Former Justice Menis Ketchum was not part of impeachment proceedings because he retired. Ketchum was charged in a federal information. Loughry faces a 23-count indictment. 

Articles of Impeachment now head to the full House, which is scheduled to meet 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13.

Articles of Impeachment adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday are: 

Article 1: Accusing Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Robin Davis of signing and approving contracts to overpay certain senior status judges. This was adopted 17-7.

Article 2: Accusing Workman, Loughry, Davis, and Justice Beth Walker of lavish spending, including remodeling state offices, large increases in travel budgets. Some of these expenditures include unaccountable personal use of state vehicles, for unneeded computers for home use, regular lunches from restaurants, and framing of personal items. This article also accuses justices of failing to provide supervisory oversight of the court’s operations

Article 3: Accusing Loughry of taking home a Cass Gilbert desk, valued at around $42,000

Article 4: Accusing Loughry of taking home state computers for personal use 

Article 5: Accusing Loughry of personal use of state vehicles, including using the vehicle and state-issued fuel purchase card to travel to The Greenbrier for book signings and sales

Article 6: Accusing Loughry of drafting an administrative order authorizing the court to overpay certain senior status judges. This was adopted 18-6.

Article 7: Accusing Loughry of lavish spending on office renovations, totaling about $363,000, including the purchase of a $32,000 couch and $33,000 floor. This was adopted in a 21-3 vote.

Article 8: Accusing Walker of lavish spending on office renovations totaling about $131,000, including $27,000 in office furnishings and wallpaper. This was adopted 16-8.

Article 10: Accusing Davis of lavish spending on renovation costs totaling about $500,000, including a $20,000 rug, $8,000 chair and $23,000 in design services. This was adopted 19-4.

Article 11: Accusing Davis of signing forms overpaying certain senior status judges. This was adopted in a voice vote.

Article 12: Accusing Workman of lavish spending in renovating her office, totaling about $111,000, and including the purchase of wide-plank cherry floors.

Article 14: Accusing Workman of signing forms to overpay senior status judges. This was adopted in a voice vote.

Article 15: Accusing Justice Loughry of deceiving the House Finance Committee while under oath

Article 16: Accusing Justice Loughry of wasteful spending by using state funds to frame personal items

Two Articles of Impeachment were rejected. These were:

Article 9: Accusing Walker of using state funds to hire outside counsel to author a legal opinion. This was rejected 9-14.

Article 13: Accusing Workman of hiring and retaining employees, contracting services, some of which constituted an apparent repayment of political favors. This was rejected 10-13. 



Monday, August 06, 2018 - 05:42 PM

Judiciary Committee hears from Supreme Court chief financial officer

The House Judiciary Committee reconvened impeachment proceedings Monday, starting the day with a tour of the state Supreme Court chambers and offices.

Following the tour, committee members heard from Sue Racer-Troy, who serves as chief financial officer at the state Supreme Court.

Racer-Troy detailed the structure of the court, saying justices were at the top with the court administrator below them and the division directors below the administrator.

Racer-Troy said there were no written policies regarding expenditures. She said Chief Justice Margaret Workman requested former administrative director Steve Canterbury to develop written policies for P-card usage. Racer-Troy said Canterbury told her not to worry about creating this written policy.

Racer-Troy also testified that she went to Canterbury to discuss former Justice Menis Ketchum’s use of a state car for commuting purposes.  She said she had a parking space near Ketchum and saw a state car parked in his space. She testified when she told Canterbury about this, he told her to stay out of it and that it was none of her business.

Racer-Troy said she has continued to ask for details to get the true cost of renovations of the court. She said she still doesn’t know the full cost of these renovations. Racer-Troy said she got the impression that justices didn’t know how much renovations cost. She mentioned Justice Robin Davis, in particular, saying Davis seemed surprised to learn that a sofa, chairs and other furnishings were bought with state money rather than her own personal funds.

Racer-Troy said the work environment changed dramatically in 2017 after suspended Justice Allen Loughry took over as chief justice. She said there were many firings and restructuring. She said in the administrative department, there were about 20 positions that were either eliminated or consolidated.

“It created a lot of feelings of uncertainty,” Racer-Troy said. “People didn’t know how certain their jobs were.”

In the afternoon, Committee Counsel Brian Casto went over issues with senior status judges. Casto said senior status judges can’t make more than a sitting judge when adding in per diem payments and retirement. However, he said senior status judges were paid in excess of these amounts.

The committee then adjourned into executive session.



Friday, July 27, 2018 - 01:28 PM

Judiciary Committee reviews construction costs, court lunches, court vehicles

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday went over several receipts detailing construction costs, court lunches and justices' usage of court vehicles.

Committee Counsel Marsha Kauffman called Justin Robinson, acting director of the Post Audit Division, as the first and only witness of the day.

Robinson said the Legislative Auditor is in the process of digesting about 1,000 pages of documents and invoices detailing renovation of the state Supreme Court.

Robinson said the notebook the office had before was incomplete. He said on Thursday, he was informed by the court that the info he was previously provided was incomplete. Robinson said interim director of court administration Barbara Allen indicated that the omission of documentation was made at the request of suspended Justice Allen Loughry.

Robinson detailed summaries of some of the invoices. For office renovations, he said Justice Robin Davis’ cost was $500,000, Loughry’s was $363,000, former Justice Brent Benjamin’s was $264,000, Menis Ketchum, who resigned, was $171,000, Justice Beth Walker, who took over Benjamin’s office, was $130,000, and Chief Justice Margaret Workman’s cost was $111,000.

Robinson said Ketchum disputed some of these charges.

The total cost of framing was $114,788 for all justices, Robinson said.

The committee also reviewed the cost of lunches for justices and their staffs. The total amount over a five-year period was $42,314 for working lunches. For unverified court events, the cost was $4,342. These were times where there was no verified court event.

The committee also went over usage of court vehicles, specifically two instances of Loughry. In one instance, Loughry took a state vehicle to Tucker County, saying the purpose was for meeting with magistrates. However, he also appeared in the magistrate courtroom during a case filed by a pest management company against Loughry’s father.

Committee Counsel Brian Casto said the company alleged Loughry’s father refused to pay for termite treatment at his home. Casto noted the case was dismissed.

The committee also looked into logs of Loughry checking out a state vehicle and dates of his book signings. He detailed one instance where Loughry checked out a state vehicle on the day of a book signing at The Greenbrier.

He said checks from the book signings were written directly to Loughry’s wife, who is scheduled to testify at the committee’s next hearing.

Committee Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee is scheduled to take a tour of the state Supreme Court on Aug. 6. The committee is adjourned until further call of the chair.



Friday, July 27, 2018 - 09:25 AM

Recap: Judiciary Committee hears from former Supreme Court administrator

The House Judiciary Committee continued its fifth day of impeachment hearings Thursday, which was consumed by testimony from former West Virginia Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury.

Before taking testimony, Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee issued a subpoena for Loughry’s wife, who asked for a delay to obtain counsel.

Canterbury’s testimony mainly centered on suspended Justice Allen Loughry. He testified about renovations to Loughry’s office, personal items that were framed at the court’s expense, and Loughry’s decision to take home a couch that belonged to former Justice Joseph Albright. Canterbury also testified about the decline of his relationship with Loughry, in particular.

Committee Counsel Marsha Kauffman’s first line of questioning focused on the court’s usage of state cars, which Canterbury said was brought on by publicity on the use of state cars in general. This led Justice Robin Davis to inquire with Canterbury about the court’s usage of state vehicles.

Canterbury said Justice Menis Ketchum, who resigned, asked back in 2007 if he could use one of the court’s Buicks to commute. He said Ketchum was the only justice who used the car for commuting.

Davis later sent a memo to Canterbury in 2016 because she wanted more information on how court cars were assigned and used. Canterbury said Davis expressed concerns that the use of vehicles was not appropriate.

Canterbury said in response, Loughry asked about dinners held at Davis’ home when judicial conferences were hosted in Charleston, as well as a cocktail party held in Wyoming during a chief justice annual meeting.

He said Loughry contended Davis’ concerns about his vehicle usage was a distraction from these dinners.

Canterbury said there had been only one instance where food was partially funded by the court and one where bus transportation was funded by the court.

Canterbury said justices later voted 3-2, with Davis and former Justice Brent Benjamin as the two voting against, voted that justices did not need to be asked why they were taking the vehicles.

“The presumption was if they were taking a car, it must be for appropriate use,” Canterbury said.

Canterbury recalled a conversation with Loughry about moving a couch to his house. Previous testimony indicated that Loughry took home a couch that belonged to former Justice Joseph Albright, along with other furnishings including computers and a Cass Gilbert desk.

“He told me he thought he would take that couch home for his home office,” Canterbury said. “My reaction, frankly, was ‘what?’ But I said OK. I wanted to try to serve those guys. I asked to arrange for moving and he said he would take care of it.”

Canterbury also testified about renovations to justices’ offices. Kauffman asked Canterbury about Loughry’s contention that he had little input into these renovations. Canterbury said this was not true and that Loughry had daily involvement with renovations and wrote emails around the clock detailing his specifications.

“He was very involved,” Canterbury said. “He was more involved than any other justice, by a longshot.”

Canterbury also said Loughry sketched a floor plan of how he wanted his office to look, including a floor medallion depicting a county map of West Virginia. Canterbury said Loughry also specified that Tucker County, which is where Loughry is from, to be “blue pearl granite.”

Canterbury said he had a brief conversation with Loughry about the cost of the couch in his office. He said he brought up to Loughry that the price tag was $32,000.

“I happened to catch him in the hall and said this couch is $32,000. Want me to go through with this? His answer in hindsight seems to be prophetic,” Canterbury said. “He said, yes, and if it ever becomes public, I’ll blame it on you. You’re the administrator. And he chuckled.”

Canterbury said other than that conversation, he had nothing to do with the couch. Canterbury said Loughry, Loughry’s wife, and Loughry’s secretary went to Carpet Gallery and picked out a blue suede fabric, which was the reason for the couch’s hefty price tag.

Canterbury also said Loughry had several items framed –including a page of uncut $2 bills, newspaper articles, a poster of his book, a swearing in photo along with his first written opinion and syllabus page. Canterbury said two items he never saw in Loughry’s office. These were a watercolor picture of Loughry’s name, which was painted after his wedding, and an etching of the building Loughry and his wife were married.

Canterbury estimated the cost of framing to be in the $10,000-$12,000 range.  

In addition to the furnishings, Canterbury said Loughry also had other requests for his office including a standing desk and a taller toilet.

Canterbury also detailed renovations done to other justices’ offices. He said the majority of Davis’ renovations were structural in nature, saying workers even found paper-covered wiring in the walls. He estimated three-fourths of the cost of renovations to her office were structural in nature. However, he said there were a few expensive items including an expensive chair and rugs. He said Chief Justice Margaret Workman also had an expensive floor in the foyer of her office.

Canterbury also testified on his relationship with Loughry. He said he felt the beginning could have been an instance where Loughry was a clerk at the court. He said an employee came to him, saying Loughry made sexually harassing comments to her. Canterbury said he went to former Justice Spike Maynard and told him about Loughry’s conduct. After that, he said the comments stopped.  

Canterbury said his relationship with Loughry went downhill shortly after Loughry was elected. Canterbury said Loughry told him he knew Canterbury advised a former justice to fire him when he worked for the court as a law clerk. Canterbury said this conversation between him and the former justice never happened.

Canterbury said in 2014, Loughry told him he wanted Canterbury to submit his resignation because he felt Canterbury had disrespected him with a comment referencing his age. Canterbury said he didn’t remember saying this either. From that point, Canterbury said Loughry didn’t speak to him and would reference him in third person even when he was in the room.

Canterbury testified about his firing, saying he worked for the court for 11.5 years before Loughry fired him.  

 “I said every cloud has a silver lining. I said, at least I won’t have to work for a simulacrum in chief like you,” Canterbury said referring to Loughry, who had taken the position of chief justice days before.

Canterbury later defined the word he used to call Loughry, saying it means an “elaborate fraud.”

“I think he’s dishonest. I don’t think he has the temperament to be a justice. I don’t think he has the temperament to be in charge of hiring people. I found his entire tone to be off-putting,” Canterbury said in response to a question from Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, on why Canterbury called Loughry a “simulacrum.”

For today’s schedule, the committee will review information on construction cost. Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee likely will not meet next week but will meet the following week.



Friday, July 20, 2018 - 02:13 PM

House Judiciary postpones tour of W.Va. Supreme Court

The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to postpone its scheduled tour of the West Virginia Supreme Court and will ask the court for a tour as a committee accompanied by three members of the media.

Friday marked the fourth day of testimony. Committee Attorney Marsha Kauffman began by reading an affidavit as testimony from Kim Ellis, director of administrative services of the West Virginia Supreme Court. The affidavit was testimony taken from the Judicial Investigation Commission.

Ellis’ testimony from the affidavit said suspended Justice Allen Loughry personally selected the fabric and down in the decorative custom pillows and sketched a map detailing placement of furnishings in his office.

Ellis’ testimony continued, saying the day after former Court Administrator Steve Canterbury was fired, Loughry called Ellis on her personal cell phone. Her testimony said Loughry told her of Canterbury’s firing and said it was his understanding she was a “spy or loyal to Steve Canterbury” but said she had nothing to worry about with her job. Loughry asked her to keep the conversation “off the record,” Kauffman read. The affidavit continued saying Ellis worried about her job. 

The testimony continued recalling a meeting with Ellis, Loughry, and former Court Administrator Gary Johnson where Ellis was questioned about the costs associated with renovations. Ellis’ testimony said Loughry asked her if she recalled a meeting with him where he asked her to write down costs of renovations for former Justice Menis Ketchum and Chief Justice Margaret Workman. Ellis said she felt Loughry was trying to intimidate her or coercer her to lie,

The committee also played the entire recording of Loughry’s budget presentation before the House Finance Committee during session. Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, said the Judicial Investigation Committee took Loughry’s entire testimony into account for its charges. In a previous impeachment hearing, the committee had just played the statement quoted in the commission’s complaint. 

The committee granted a motion from Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, to postpone the committee’s scheduled tour of the West Virginia Supreme Court. Fluharty cited First Amendment concerns because members of the media were not allowed on this tour.

The committee granted a second motion from Fluharty to request the court for a tour as a committee accompanied by three members of the media.

Shott said because of the change in nature of the tour, the court informed the committee that it needed to gather the court to discuss. He said the tour would not take place on Friday.

For next week, Shott also said the committee plans to issue a subpoena of Loughry’s wife, inquire into an alleged missing computer, inquire of additional information on renovation expenses, inquire from the state Auditor’s office on the court’s hiring of a consultant, and look into book signings conducted using state vehicles to travel. Shott also said Canterbury is expected to testify next week, saying this could consume a full day or more. 

Shott said this schedule depends on the availability of witnesses.

The House Judiciary Committee is in recess until 9 a.m. Thursday, July 26.



Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 12:58 PM

Updated: Committee hears testimony from W.Va. Supreme Court employees

The House Judiciary Committee reconvened Thursday to resume testimony in impeachment proceedings of one or more state Supreme Court justices.

Committee Counsel John Hardison called Jess Gundy, West Virginia Supreme Court deputy director of security, as the first witness. Most of Thursday morning’s testimony focused on the move of a couch and Cass Gilbert desk, which was valued at about $42,000, from Justice Allen Loughry’s home to a court warehouse.

Gundy recalled a meeting with Justice Allen Loughry, former Court Administrator Gary Johnson, and a state Supreme Court attorney, where Loughry asked Gundy to help move the desk and couch from his house.

“He made sure to tell me that he was not asking me to do anything improper because it was permissible to have a home office but he wanted to get it out of the house because of a newspaper article the day or two before that said he had this at his residence,” Gundy said. 

Gundy said he, Paul Mendez and Arthur Angus got in a court van and followed Loughry to his residence. When they arrived at Loughry’s house, Loughry showed them the desk in a smaller room and the couch, Gundy said.

“The desk was crammed into the room,” Gundy said in describing the desk and the layout of the house. “It was a big desk in a small room. “

Gundy said they proceeded to unload the couch into the van. Loughry then said one of his neighbors was taking a photo of the move, Gundy said.

He and Angus got in the court van while Loughry and Mendez got in Loughry’s car to drop the couch at the warehouse.

Gundy said they did not move the desk because he said Loughry was waiting for his neighbor to leave. Gundy recalled Loughry getting a call from his wife saying the neighbor left and they went back to Loughry’s home to retrieve the desk and unload it at the court’s warehouse.

Gundy said the move took place during regular work hours and said it was paid for by the court.

Hardison asked if moving furniture into a justice’s home was part of his job description, which Gundy replied, “It was an unusual request.” However, Gundy said he didn’t think anything of the request because Loughry told him it was permissible for justices to have a home office.

Gundy also testified about justices’ usage of state vehicles. A legislative audit report from the Legislative Auditor’s office found Loughry had frequent use of state vehicles without listing a business purpose.

Gundy said Loughry had keys to all three court vehicles. He said he couldn’t recall Loughry ever telling him where he was going in these vehicles.

 “He said other justices in the chamber did not need to know where he was going,” Gundy said.

Gundy said during holidays, Loughry would take the state vehicles home and bring it back following a long weekend.

“There were a couple of occasions he had it for a very long time,” Gundy said, noting he couldn’t recall specific days.

Gundy said Loughry turned in the keys following publicity about use of state vehicles.

***

After breaking for lunch, the committee called three more witnesses before recessing for the day—Jennifer Bundy, public information officer at the state Supreme Court; Paul Mendez, court security messenger; and Arthur Angus, director of court security.

Committee Counsel Marsha Kauffman asked Bundy about an email she sent last year—a response from Loughry about the furniture. Bundy said Loughry told her there was a home office policy.

However, Bundy said she later found out after sending out the statement that no such policy exists.

 

Bundy said after Loughry took over as chief justice in 2017, Canterbury was fired the next day. She said she considered Canterbury a good friend.

Bundy also testified that she was later kept out of the loop with media responses and she did not know of an interview with Loughry and Davis until she saw it on TV.

She said she became concerned about her job and approached Johnson and Loughry about her concerns.

“I asked them if I would lose my job and why aren’t they involving me in the conversation,” Bundy said. “Justice Loughry said I would not lose my job. Judge Johnson said the reason they were not involving me is because I am friends with Canterbury and they didn’t want to put me in a difficult position.”

Committee Counsel Brian Casto called Mendez as the third witness.

Mendez recalled moving the couch to Loughry’s home. Mendez said this was the only couch in Loughry’s living room. He said the couch was so large that he, Gundy and Angus had to take the doors off the frames to move it out of the house.

As Gundy testified earlier in the day, Mendez also said after Loughry received a call from his wife saying the neighbor who had taken pictures of the move of the couch, had left, they then went back to the house to get the desk out of Loughry’s house.

Angus also recalled Loughry asking him to help move the couch.  Angus said the couch was in Justice Joseph Albright’s office. Justice Thomas McHugh later inherited the office and Loughry inherited McHugh’s office.

Angus also testified of the location of all five Cass Gilbert desks. Previous testimony indicated that one was missing. However, Angus said all were in various offices at the state Supreme Court.

As Gundy earlier testified, Angus also said Loughry never told him where he took court vehicles and he had keys to all of the court’s Buicks. Angus said Loughry got the keys following Canterbury’s firing.

Angus said Loughry had a practice of taking vehicles after court had adjourned sine die.

“There were several occasions where he would get it near a weekend and it would come back on a Monday or Tuesday,” Angus said.

Although most of Thursday’s testimony focused on Loughry, Angus also testified on a trip where he accompanied Davis.

Angus said he drove her to Wheeling for court business. He said they went to a newspaper for an interview about an anti-truancy program and then to the courthouse for a court function.

He said he then drove her to the Wheeling airport where Davis departed on a private plane to Parkersburg. He said he drove her to the hotel and she later left to go to a political function. However, Angus said he did not accompany her to the political function.

The House Judiciary Committee will reconvene 9:15 a.m. Friday. The committee is scheduled to take a tour of the West Virginia Supreme Court on Friday.  



Friday, July 13, 2018 - 01:58 PM

House Judiciary calls former W.Va. Supreme Court employees as witnesses

The House Judiciary Committee continued taking witness testimony in the second day of impeachment proceedings.

Friday morning, Committee Chief Counsel Marsha Kauffman called Scott Harvey, former West Virginia Supreme Court database administrator and former director of technology.

Harvey testified that he and other employees made multiple visits to Justice Allen Loughry’s home to extend internet access between Loughry’s house and the state Supreme Court and to set up two desktop computers—one in the kitchen/family area and one in a room Loughry referred to as an office area.  

Harvey testified one of these desktops served a “shared” computer in which Loughry’s family had access. Harvey said he personally questioned the need for the computer in the family room and allowing family members to use a state computer.

On a fourth visit to Loughry’s house, Harvey said they had to deal with a virus on the family room computer.

“It came to me through the IT chain that there were a lot of games installed on the computer,” Harvey said.

Harvey said other justices had computers in their homes but he had never done a site survey with the other justices to the extent or degree he did with Loughry.

Harvey also testified about a consulting firm hired to program a statewide magistrate court system, which took the entire magistrate court system from paper to electronic.

He said he did not believe was necessary because the court could have done the work with their own employees. Harvey said this was an opportunity for the court to bring in revenue but there was a lack of knowledge about how the payment process should be handled within the state.

He said the court came up with its own way of how they would do it but the state treasurer disagreed with that method.

Harvey said it involved the fee payment processing on the state Supreme Court server instead of the treasurer’s server, which is why the treasurer objected. He said after this document was re-worked that said the treasurer would process the payments, the treasurer signed off on the document.

He said Justice Menis Ketchum threatened him twice, saying if he didn’t get the treasurer to sign off on the document, he would be fired.

Ketchum submitted his letter of retirement/resignation Wednesday so the committee will not consider evidence against him.

The committee later called Paul Fletcher Adkins, assistant to the administrative director of courts, as a witness. Adkins worked at the state Supreme Court for 35 years.

Adkins said he approved the bill for Young’s Moving Service. He said the moving company transported office furniture on West Virginia Day from Loughry’s office into a warehouse during renovations at the court. 

Adkins met the people from Young’s Moving Service at the warehouse to let them in and then locked up the warehouse when he left.

However, before the moving company went to the warehouse, Adkins said the moving company stopped at Loughry’s house and then went to the Capitol to pick up furniture to transport to the warehouse.

When asked what specific items were unloaded into the warehouse, Adkins said nothing stood out to him. He said there was a single item delivered to Dudley Drive, under Loughry’s supervision. However, he did not know what that was.

“If something was delivered to Dudley Drive and under the supervision of a justice, there was nothing I would have to say about it,” he said.

Adkins confirmed Loughry used a Cass Gilbert desk when he served as a law clerk with the court but said he was unsure if he had it in his chamber.

Before recessing, the committee played an audio clip from Loughry’s testimony before the House Finance Committee during session and then a WCHS interview with Loughry.

In the interview, Loughry called the expenses “outrageous and shameful.” He said he had “very little input” into the renovations and furnishings of his office. Loughry said former court administrative director Steve Canterbury was in charge of the expenditures.

The Judiciary Committee will resume work on impeachment proceedings 9 a.m. Thursday, July 19.



Thursday, July 12, 2018 - 08:11 PM

House Judiciary Committee continues impeachment hearing

House Judiciary Committee members continued taking testimony into the evening Thursday as part of impeachment proceedings.

Late last month, the West Virginia Legislature convened its second special session. The West Virginia House of Delegates immediately took up and adopted House Resolution 201, which calls for investigating allegations of impeachable offenses against the Chief Justice and justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

The meeting, which began Thursday morning, focused on testimony related to three legislative audit reports on the state’s highest court.

Judiciary Chief Counsel Marsha Kauffman called Justin Robinson, acting director of the Post Audit Division, as the first witness. Robinson testified about the legislative audit reports detailing alleged personal use of state vehicles from justices.  

The first audit found Justice Allen Loughry had frequent use of state vehicles without listing a business purpose. The Legislative Auditor also questioned Loughry’s use of state-paid rental cars during out-of-state trips

The second audit found Justice Robin Davis had seven uses of a court vehicle where a destination was provided but no business purpose was listed.

The audit found no issues regarding vehicle reservations by Chief Justice Margaret Workman or Justice Beth Walker.

Delegate Andrew Robinson, D-Kanawha, made a motion to amend the rules of Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer. Shott denied the amendment and Robinson challenged the ruling. However, that motion failed because Shott said there needed to be 10 members of the committee to join Robinson in that motion.

Many of the questions Thursday afternoon centered on out-of-state trips for conferences and the amount of miles from Justice Allen Loughry’s trips that Justin Robinson said exceeded the amount of miles from the hotel to the conference.

Committee Counsel called Legislative Auditor and Legislative Manager Aaron Allred as the second witness.

Many of the questions centered on a Cass Gilbert desk, valued at about $42,000, that the legislative audit report said was moved to Loughry’s house. Allred said the report found in June 2013, a moving company transported furniture to Loughry’s home. However, he could not say for sure what specifically was moved at that time.

Allred said it is his understanding Loughry later had court employees come to his house, while they were on the clock, to move the desk to a court warehouse.

 Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, said, “it scares me that a law clerk was using a $42,000 desk,” referencing that Loughry used the desk during his time as a law clerk.

After a 45-minute break, the Judiciary Committee reconvened and called Justin Robinson back as a witness to testify about the third legislative audit report. This report questioned the spend down of the West Virginia Supreme Court’s excess fund balance, which went from $29 million to $333,514 in four years.

Justice Menis Ketchum submitted his letter of retirement/resignation on Wednesday. Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee will not consider evidence against Ketchum because of that resignation.

Shott said because of this, he anticipates the agenda to be shortened by about a day. The committee recessed until 9 a.m. Friday.



Thursday, July 12, 2018 - 02:35 PM

House Judiciary begins impeachment process, calls witness

The House Judiciary Committee began the impeachment process, starting its Thursday morning meeting with an explanation of the proceedings and calling the first witness

Late last month, the West Virginia Legislature convened its second special session. The West Virginia House of Delegates immediately took up and adopted House Resolution 201, which calls for investigating allegations of impeachable offenses against the Chief Justice and justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Justice Menis Ketchum submitted his letter of retirement/resignation on Wednesday. Judiciary Chair John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee will not consider evidence against Ketchum because of that resignation. Shott said this could shorten proceedings since the committee won’t need that time that would have been dedicated to those findings.

Before calling the first witness, Shott detailed the background and process of impeachment proceedings. The committee can vote to impeach, not to impeach or censure.

“I’ve spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about what we are about to undertake. … The ultimately result of what we’re doing today is to overturn a duly elected official where tens of thousands voted for Supreme Court justices for 12-year terms and invested in them substantial trust,” Shott said.

“We have an obligation to also hold accountable those public officials who voters can’t hold accountable because of such a lengthy term,” Shott later said.

Shott cautioned members to not liken the proceeding to that of a grand jury or even to a preliminary hearing but to instead consider it a hybrid.

“In a grand jury, it’s intended to create leverage in favor of the state. … A preliminary hearing is the same with a low standard of probable cause,” he said.

Judiciary Chief Counsel Marsha Kauffman called Justin Robinson, acting director of the Post Audit Division, as the first witness. Robinson testified about the legislative audit reports detailing alleged personal use of state vehicles from justices.  

The first audit found Justice Allen Loughry had frequent use of state vehicles without listing a business purpose. The Legislative Auditor also questioned Loughry’s use of state-paid rental cars during out-of-state trips

The second audit found Justice Robin Davis had seven uses of a court vehicle where a destination was provided but no business purpose was listed.

The audit found no issues regarding vehicle reservations by Chief Justice Margaret Workman or Justice Beth Walker.

Delegates also questioned Robinson before breaking for lunch, reconvening at 1:30 p.m. 



Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 04:14 PM

House Judiciary Committee begins impeachment process

The House Judiciary Committee met shortly following the House of Delegate’s adjournment Tuesday to start the impeachment process.

 

On Tuesday, the West Virginia Legislature convened its second special session. The House immediately took up and adopted House Resolution 201, investigating allegations of impeachable offenses against the Chief Justice and justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

 

The House Judiciary Committee is tasked with determining evidence to see if impeachable offenses have occurred.

 

Members heard from committee attorney Brian Casto, who presented a history of the impeachment process and detailed how the process works.

 

Legislators also heard from Marc Harman, who served in the House of Delegates during the 1989 impeachment of A. James Manchin. Harman shared his experience through that process.

 

“What you are about to undertake will not be pleasant but I hope you will rise to the occasion,” Harman told legislators. “What has happened has happened. I think you can define us as a state by how you handle it.”

 

Committee Chair Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee will issue a subpoena to the Judicial Investigation Commission. Committee members are also scheduled to meet with the Legislative Auditor’s office.

 

Shott said the committee will meet as early as July 9 but no later than July 16.

 



Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 04:12 PM

Joint Committee on Flooding

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer addressed the Joint Committee on Flooding Tuesday to give updates on efforts moving forward. Hoyer said he is moving with deliberate speed to address issues.

 

Hoyer said there were 1,200 initial applications, 451 cases that met HUD requirements, and as of Tuesday, 350 have been reviewed.

 

He said 22 structures are on site, some of which families have the keys to and some of them, people are in the process of signing off on finalizing the construction management process.

 

He said by next week, he hopes to draft a document to purchase for the Slum and Blight Removal Program, which involves demolishing structures either flooded or in a flood affected area.

 

“We are trying to focus on pushing that quickly,” he said. “If we remove structures, it helps us to bring property values up in the community as well as moving forward. It’s an important aspect of what we’re doing.”

 

He said currently, there is $2 million from HUD for the bridge program. However, he said the state needs $3.5 million to complete all the bridges in the system.

 

“Once we get on focus, we can go to HUD to put more money into the bridge program so we can clear out all 133 bridges,” Hoyer said.

 

Two people from the West Virginia Development Office – Mary Jo Thompson and Russell Tarry – were scheduled to speak to the committee.

 

However, a representative from the West Virginia Department of Commerce said they had previously resigned, hours after confirming they would attend Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions related to the RISE program.  

 

Adam Fridley, audit manager with the Legislative Auditor’s office, also addressed legislators Tuesday. Fridley presented an audit examining the Rise program. The audit found the state Development Office likely entered into six illegal contracts with Horne LLP, a Mississippi-based accounting and advisory firm, at a cost of about $18 million.

 

The audit also found the Development Office entered into seven construction contracts, totaling more than $71 million, for home rehabilitation, reconstruction, and replacement services under RISE, which the audit said violated state and federal law.



Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 02:09 PM

Legislature Convenes Special Session to Consider State Supreme Court Impeachment

The West Virginia Legislature convened the second special session of 2018 on Tuesday afternoon.

The House of Delegates immediately took up and adopted House Resolution 201 , investigating allegations of impeachable offenses against the Chief Justice and justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, offered an amendment to the resolution dealing with a timeline of making a decision on potential impeachment. Sponaugle referenced an Aug. 14 deadline, which is the deadline to have a decision made to have a special election in November to fill any vacancy created.

Sponaugle’s amendment was rejected on a 32-57 vote.

The House adopted House Resolution 201 on a 89-0 vote.

The House is adjourned until called back into session by Speaker Pro Tempore John Overington, R-Berkeley.

The Senate quickly gaveled in and out, adjourning until the House finishes its impeachment work. The Senate serves as the jury in the trial phase of impeachment proceedings.

The House Judiciary is currently meeting to discuss impeachment proceedings

 

 



Monday, June 25, 2018 - 05:30 PM

Updated - Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary looks into impeachment procedure

 

After the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary recessed to address concerns regarding procedure for impeachment proceedings, legislative leaders have requested Gov. Jim Justice to call the Legislature into a special session to allow the House of Delegates to consider potential articles of impeachment against one or more members of the state Supreme Court.

 

Committee Co-Chair Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said following the committee’s Monday morning meeting, a conference was held where lawmakers determined the best way to go was to request the governor to call the Legislature into a special session on Tuesday.

 

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and House Speaker Pro Tempore John Overington, R-Berkeley, later formally requested the governor to call the Legislature into a special session.

 

“We have met with the governor and the governor is agreeable to that,” Shott said.

 

Earlier Monday, committee members made various motions involving creating two subcommittees, establishing a timeline for meetings and decisions, and discussing procedure for voting on the motion to create the subcommittee.

 

The motion to establish the two subcommittees—one comprised of House Judiciary Committee members and one comprised of Senate Judiciary Committee members—was later withdrawn pending a call into a special session.

 

Members of the committee questioned whether the vote should be split with House members voting to create the House subcommittee and the Senate voting on its portion.

 

Shott mentioned concerns about the process.

 

“This is a serious situation,” Shott said. “it’s extremely important that we have bipartisan support from the get-go.”

 

If articles of impeachment are adopted by the House, it’s then sent to the Senate for an impeachment trial.

 

Shott said the committee is plowing new ground.

 

“We’ve had one impeachment proceeding in the history of the state,” Shott said. “There is not a lot of precedence on how to proceed.”

 

Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, mentioned the Aug. 14 deadline. This is the deadline to have a special election this November to fill any vacancy created.

 

The committee also heard presentations detailing the process and function of several agencies that investigate and discipline public officials and public employees — the Ethics Commission, the Legislative Auditor’s Office, the West Virginia Auditor’s office, Department of Health and Human Resources Medical Fraud Unit, West Virginia Attorney General’s office, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Consolidated Retirement Board, Commission on Special Investigation, and the Judicial Investigation Commission.



Monday, June 25, 2018 - 05:04 PM

Legislative Auditor report looks into Supreme Court excess fund balance

 

A report from the Legislative Auditor’s office questioned the spend down of the West Virginia Supreme Court’s excess fund balance, which went from $29 million to $333,514 in four years.

 

 

 

Justin Robinson, manager with the Post Audit Division, presented the audit to lawmakers during Sunday’s Post Audits Subcommittee meeting.

 

According to the audit, the state Supreme Court had unused appropriated General Revenue Funds totaling $29 million in the 2012 fiscal year. This balance was reduced to $333,514 by the 2016 fiscal year. The audit said this was attributed to different reasons including renovations to the justice’s chambers and other court facilities.

 

“The Legislative Auditor is concerned with the Court’s accumulation of appropriated General Revenue Funds in the majority of the years reviewed, with particular regard to the fact that in five years, they had re-appropriated funds that went from $1.4 million in 2007 to $29 million in 2012,” the report said. “There is also concern over how these funds were subsequently spent down.”

 

The audit detailed the timeline:

 

  • In 2012, judges, justices and magistrates received pay raises, which totaled about $6.1 million. This was absorbed using re-appropriated funds from 2011. The court also decreased its appropriation request by $2 million. It carried over $22.7 million into the 2013 fiscal year.

  • In 2013, the court absorbed some of the previous year’s raises for judges, justices and magistrates from re-appropriated funds, totaling about $4.4 million. The audit said there also were unanticipated construction and furniture purchases for justices’ chambers, the business court, the City Center East server room, the Clerk’s office, and the justice’s conference room. The court also purchased technology, furniture and equipment for new family court spaces in several counties. The court re-appropriated about $15.25 million into the 2014 fiscal year.

  • In 2014, the court returned about $4 million to the General Revenue Fund to help with the budget shortfall and did not seek appropriation for about $10 million in expenditures, the report said.

  • In 2015, the court re-appropriated $333,514 to the 2016 fiscal year.

  • In 2016, the court re-appropriated about $1.2 million to the 2017 fiscal year including $2 million returned to the General Revenue fund for annual Judicial Retirement contributions.

 

 “How or why the court accumulated $29 million in excess General Revenue Funds in 2012 cannot fully be explained,” the audit said.

 

The Post Audit Division will continue to look into the increased spending and reduction of the excess funds.

 

Chief Justice Margaret Workman also addressed the subcommittee. She said some of the expenses involved computerizing court records. She said court computers also need to be updated often.

 

 “It’s a very expensive proposition to take court records from 55 different counties and develop case management systems that are consistent,” Workman said.

 

She also said there was a lot of money spent on renovations. Some of these expenses, she said, included heating, cooling and electric work.



Monday, June 25, 2018 - 02:42 PM

Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary looks into impeachment procedure

The Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary is looking into procedure for impeachment against any member of the state Supreme Court.

 

After members made various motions involving one creating two subcommittees, establishing a timeline for meetings and decisions, and discussing procedure for voting on the motion to create the subcommittees, the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary will stand in recess until 5 p.m. 

 

The main motion, if adopted, will establish two subcommittees—one comprised of House Judiciary Committee members and the other comprised of Senate Judiciary Committee members.

 

The House subcommittee will study whether a recommendation should be made to House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, to require the governor to call the Legislature into session to institute impeachment proceedings.

 

If articles of impeachment are adopted by the House, it’s then sent to the Senate for an impeachment trial.

 

Committee Co-Chair Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said the committee is plowing new ground.

 

“We’ve had one impeachment proceeding in the history of the state,” Shott said. “There is not a lot of precedence on how to proceed.”

 

Members of the committee questioned whether the vote should be split with House members voting to create the House subcommittee and the Senate voting on its portion.

 

Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, mentioned the Aug. 14. This is the deadline to have a special election this November to fill any vacancy created.

 

The committee also heard presentations detailing the process and function of several agencies that investigate and discipline public officials and public employees — the Ethics Commission, the Legislative Auditor’s Office, the West Virginia Auditor’s office, Department of Health and Human Resources Medical Fraud Unit, West Virginia Attorney General’s office, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Consolidated Retirement Board, Commission on Special Investigation, and the Judicial Investigation Commission.

 

The committee will reconvene at 5 p.m. in the House Chamber to take up these motions.



Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 06:50 PM

Legislative Auditor report examines Rise program contracts

 

The state Development Office entered into several illegal contracts under the Rise program and the legislative auditor’s office questioned whether homes have been completed under the program, a report from the Legislative Auditor’s Office found.

 

Adam Fridley, interim director of the Legislative Auditor’s Office presented the audit to lawmakers in Sunday’s Post Audits Subcommittee meeting.

 

The audit looked into contracts entered by the West Virginia Development Office and whether they complied with state and federal laws for using Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery Funds.

 

The audit found two main issues. The first is that the Development Office entered into six illegal contracts with Horne LLP, a Mississippi-based accounting and advisory firm, at a cost of about $18 million, the audit said.

 

The second issue the audit found is that the Development Office entered into seven construction contracts, totaling more than $71 million, for home rehabilitation, reconstruction, and replacement services under Rise, which violated state and federal laws.

 

Fridley said Horne was in charge of developing a state action plan and assess unmet needs. The company was under contract at a total of $900,000 to provide these project management services. However, between May 2017 and February 2018, the Development Office entered into six additional task order agreements, costing about $18 million.

 

Fridley said these contracts should have been subject to competitive bidding requirements because they differed substantially from the original contract. He cited an opinion from Legislative Services that these contracts are void under state code.

 

Fridley told the committee the governor’s office ceased payments to Horne under the additional task orders and a new contract with Horne will be finalized at a cost of $9.4 million.

 

Fridley said the Development Office violated federal law with seven construction contracts entered with four different construction companies. These contracts were effective before the Development Office received authority from HUD to use grant funds.

 

The Development Office issued more than $700,000 in payments under these contracts and $400,000 in payments were issued before the office received authorization to use the money, according to the report.

 

The audit also found the Development Office did not comply with purchasing division requirement when it entered into these seven construction contracts.

 

The audit issued five recommendations:

 

  • The Development Office should seek repayment or credit against the new contract for money paid for the task order agreements

  • The Development Office should not issue payments for any work done under the invalid task order agreements

  • The Development Office should cease future payments under current construction contracts for the Rise program

  • The Development Office should terminate existing construction contracts and enter into new contracts that comply with federal and state law

  • The Development Office should work with HUD to resolve issues regarding funds that were spent before the office was authorized to do so.

 

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, asked Fridley about the status of construction performed under contracts.

 

“Nothing suggests reconstruction or rehabilitation under the program,” Fridley told legislators. “It appears all services rendered thus far were for mobile home replacement units.”

 

Armstead also asked for the status of applicants who either were approved and still do not have homes or applied and don’t know the status of those applications.

 

“For those who have applied and don’t know their status, my understanding in reading the policies and procedures is that this shouldn’t have been the case to begin with,” Fridley said. “Those who have had their applications approved and are waiting on reconstruction, rehabilitation of damaged homes, this could be a multitude of things—environmental reviews, other internal processes. The answer would be on a case-by-case basis.”

 

Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, expressed his concern about the state potentially entering into a new contract with Horne LLP.

 

 

“We are continuing to do business with Horne even though they didn’t complete the requirements under their contract?”

 

House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, asked about the intention of the Development Office entering the six illegal contracts with Horne. Fridley said it appeared to be a lack of awareness of the requirements of state and federal law.

 

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, asked to hear from a Department of Commerce representative. However, no one was there to speak.

 

“I am disappointed there is not someone here,” Carmichael said. "There will be someone here at the next meeting.”

 

A Commerce representative is scheduled to speak at Tuesday’s Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding meeting, Sen. Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha, said.

 

Carmichael said he hopes the office will continue looking into the Rise program.

 

“I’m hoping this is a continuing audit under the Rise program and there is more to come,” Carmichael said. “This has been a horribly mismanaged program, in my view. It’s been two years post-flood and we still have all of these issues.”



Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 06:42 PM

PEIA Director updates lawmakers on town halls

 

Public Employees Insurance Agency Director Ted Cheatham updated lawmakers on feedback received from 21 town halls held across the state.

 

Cheatham presented these updates during Sunday’s Joint Committee on PEIA meeting. He said two wellness plans will be launched soon — a weight loss program and a diabetes program.

 

One popular topic in the town halls concerned funding sources for the plan, which needs an additional $50 million a year to remain where it is now.

 

Cheatham said people who spoke at the town halls suggested several options including an additional severance tax, sugar tax, and re-instating the food tax. The cost and revenue subcommittee will address potential revenue sources, which the Legislature will ultimately need to pass to become law, Cheatham said. 

 

He said people also expressed concern about premium increases and getting treatment from bordering out-of-state hospitals.

 

Cheatham also updated lawmakers about the recent tier changes to prevent about 14,000 people who would be moved to an increased tier from the 5 percent pay raise. 

 

The Public outreach subcommittee will meet Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in the Governor’s Cabinet Conference Room in Charleston to recap the statewide listening tour.



Monday, May 21, 2018 - 04:39 PM

Legislature Completes 1st Special Session of 2018

The Legislature moved quickly to complete action on eight items put forth by the Governor during the first Special Session of 2018.

House Bill 101 reestablishes the Division of Culture and History as the Department of Arts, Culture and History. Under the legislation that passed Tuesday, the current commissioner of culture and history will become the curator of arts, culture and history. The curator will report directly to the governor.

The Legislature also completed action on House Bill 102, which deals with death benefits for families of firefighters killed in the line of duty. This bill makes a larger death benefit retroactively effective to Jan. 1, to aid the families of Pratt volunteer firefighters who passed away in a crash as they were responding to a fatal accident on the West Virginia Turnpike in March.

The other six items completed today were a combination of supplemental appropriations and bills to provide technical cleanup for recently-passed bills from the 2018 Regular Session.



Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 07:06 PM

Legislature Convenes 1st Special Session of 2018

Both the House and the Senate met briefly Sunday evening to convene the First Extraordinary Session of 2018.

Both bodies introduced and read eight bills a first time. Senate Bill 1002 would amend the West Virginia Fire, EMS, and Law-Enforcement Officer Survivor Benefit Act as modified by Enrolled Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 625 to allow for a retroactive effective date of January 1, 2018.

House Bill 104 would modify the type of businesses and establishments required to post human trafficking assistance notice.

The House has adjourned until tomorrow at 11 a.m.

The Senate has adjourned until tomorrow at Noon.

A Senate subcommittee on confirmations will meet at 11:30 a.m. in 208W.

 

›› All bills introduced on this date



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Tuesday, 08/14/18 - 01:48 AM
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