Tagwest virginia

Stories about West Virginia

West Virginia Senate passes unemployment insurance indexing bill

The West Virginia State Senate on January 23 passed a bill 27-5 that would index the length of unemployment insurance benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. During times when the unemployment rate is below 5.5%, unemployed workers could collect a maximum of 12 weeks of benefits. For each 0.5% increase in the unemployment rate, the maximum benefit duration would increase by one week under the bill, with a maximum benefit length of 20 weeks during times of high unemployment.

West Virginia’s current maximum benefit length is 26 weeks. The state’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in November and December, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, meaning the maximum weekly benefit would fall by 14 weeks (to a maximum of 12 weeks) if the bill passes and the unemployment rate remains stable.

The bill would also require WorkForce West Virginia—the agency in charge of administering the unemployment insurance program in the state—to verify the identities of applicants and take additional steps to review what the legislation describes as suspicious claims.

Claimants would also have to complete at least four qualifying work search activities per week (such as interviewing or applying for a job). Under current law, claimants are eligible for benefits if they are “doing that which a reasonably prudent person in his or her circumstances would do in seeking work,” with no specific requirements.

The bill now heads to the West Virginia House of Delegates for consideration.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

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All candidates for West Virginia House of Delegates District 45 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for West Virginia House of Delegates District 45—Christian Martine (D) and Eric Brooks (R) — completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office.

Eighty-eight of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will hold regularly scheduled elections in 2022. The Republican Party controls both chambers of West Virginia’s state legislature. West Virginia is one of 23 states with a Republican trifecta.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?                            

Martine:           

  • “Help West Virginia businesses thrive and create good paying jobs that bolster our economy and keep young people in-state.”
  • “Reduce the cost of prescription drugs and ensure that all West Virginians can afford the medication that they need.”
  • “Invest in our schools and educators, give our teachers and support personnel a fair wage and provide our kids with the resources they need to succeed.”

Brooks:   

  • “Pro-Life”
  • “Pro-2nd Amendment”
  • “Pro-School Choice”

Click on candidates’ profile pages below to read their full responses to this and other questions.

We ask all federal, state, and local candidates with profiles on Ballotpedia to complete a survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Ask the candidates in your area to fill out the survey.

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Mooney defeats McKinley in WV-2 Republican primary

U.S. Rep. Alexander Mooney defeated U.S. Rep. David McKinley, Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules, and Mike Seckman in the Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District on May 10, 2022. As a result of redistricting, Reps. McKinley (District 1) and Mooney (District 2) ran for re-election in the same district. 

Mooney received 54% of the vote based on unofficial returns while McKinley received 36% of the vote. The other three candidates combined to receive 10% of the vote.

McKinley was elected to represent District 1 in 2010. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D), Gov. Jim Justice (R), former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorsed McKinley. McKinley told MetroNews in an Oct. 2021 interview that his focus was proving to voters in the new district that he can deliver tangible results. McKinley’s key issues were the U.S.-Mexico border, economic revitalization including investing in coal and natural gas, and U.S. relations with China.

Mooney was elected to represent District 2 in 2014. Former President Donald Trump (R), Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the House Freedom Fund (a PAC associated with the House Freedom Caucus) endorsed Mooney. In an Oct. 2021 interview with MetroNews, Mooney said his conservative record should appeal to voters in the district. Mooney’s key issues were the 2nd Amendment, the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing regulation of the state’s energy industry.

Mooney is expected to also win in the general election. At the time of the primary election, three independent race forecasters considered the general as Solid or Safe Republican. According to Roll Call, Donald Trump (R) would have won the district by 37 percentage points in 2020. 



West Virginia Legislature sends amendment giving itself authority over state board of education rules and policies to Nov. 8 ballot

The West Virginia House of Delegates approved a constitutional amendment on March 3 giving the legislature the power to approve, amend, or repeal rules put forward by the State Board of Education. It was the final vote required to certify the measure for the Nov. 8 ballot.

The State Board of Education is a nine-member board with nine-year terms. Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Not more than five members can belong to the same political party. The board sets rules and policies governing the public school education system and county boards of education.

The constitution states that “the general supervision of the free schools of the State shall be vested in the West Virginia board of education.” It also states that the board shall perform “such duties as may be prescribed by law.” This constitutional amendment would add that the board’s authority over general supervision of public education is subject to a requirement that its rules and policies must be submitted to the legislature for review and approval, amendment, or rejection.

Miller Hall, president of the State Board of Education, opposes the amendment. Hall said, “To add another layer of politics, I don’t think it’s good; I don’t think that’s a good move.”

Senator Patricia Rucker (R-16), chair of the Senate Education Committee, said, “It’s actually making certain for those who elected us that we are overseeing and holding accountable, and that the laws that we do pass do get applied correctly.”

The West Virginia State Legislature can refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot by a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

The House passed House Joint Resolution 102 on Feb. 22, proposing the amendment in a vote of 80-18, with two absent. The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 23 to 11 on Feb. 28. The Senate made a technical amendment correcting a statute citation number, which sent HJR 102 back to the House for concurrence. The House concurred by a vote of 74-20 on March 3, 2022, with six absent.

The final votes in each chamber were largely along party lines. In the Senate, one Democrat joined 22 Republicans in support, and one Republican joined 10 Democrats in opposition. In the House, one Democrat joined all 73 voting Republicans in support, and the remaining 20 voting Democrats were opposed. West Virginia has a Republican trifecta. Republicans have had majority control of both the Senate and the House since 2014.

This measure was the fourth constitutional amendment certified for the 2022 ballot in West Virginia. The other three measures concern court authority over impeachment proceedings, incorporation of churches, and a business activity use property tax exemption.

A total of 72 statewide measures have been certified for 2022 ballots in 31 states so far. Four other education-related measures have been certified in four other states. Three relate to taxes or appropriations to fund education in Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Mexico. The other would allow in-state tuition for non-citizen students in Arizona.

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New single-member House districts boost total number of state legislative primaries in West Virginia this year

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in 2022 in West Virginia was Jan. 29, 2022. This is the first election following West Virginia’s redistricting process, which featured structural changes to the state’s legislature.

Before the 2022 election cycle, the West Virginia House of Delegates used multi-member districts, with 100 seats divided between 67 districts. During the redistricting process, the legislature instead created 100 single-member districts. As a result, 84 of the 85 incumbents running for re-election are doing so in new districts.

The Senate kept its multi-member districts, in which two senators represent each of the 17 districts. One seat from each district is up for election each cycle, and senators are elected to staggered four-year terms. The 13 incumbent senators seeking re-election are all running in the same districts they represented before redistricting.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Overall, 295 major party candidates filed for the 117 districts holding elections this year: 100 Democrats and 195 Republicans. This equals 2.5 candidates per seat, matching 2020 but lower than the 2.6 in 2018.
  • Twenty-three of the 117 districts holding elections (20%) are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. Four are in the Senate and 19 are in the House. Among those in the House, nine are in districts that did not exist before 2022, three are in districts that were previously multi-member, and seven are in districts that remain single-member.
  • 30.8% of possible primaries are contested, the lowest percentage since 2016. However, 72 total primaries are contested, the most since 2014, because of the 33 new single-member House districts. Seventy-two contested primary elections will take place out of a possible 234 (30.8%).
  • Ninety-eight incumbents are seeking re-election—22 Democrats and 76 Republicans. Thirty-six incumbents (37%) will face primary challengers, the lowest percentage since 2014.

West Virginia’s state legislative primaries are, along with Nebraska’s, the fourth in the election cycle, scheduled for May 10.

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Two incumbents among candidates in Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District

Five candidates are running in the Republican primary election for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District on May 10, 2022. As a result of redistricting, U.S. Reps. David McKinley (District 1) and Alexander Mooney (District 2) are running for re-election in the same district. These two candidates have received the most media attention and noteworthy endorsements.

McKinley was elected to represent District 1 in 2010. Gov. Jim Justice (R) and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D) endorsed McKinley. McKinley told MetroNews in an October 2021 interview that his campaign was focused on proving to voters in the new district that he can deliver tangible results. His campaign website highlighted as key issues the U.S.-Mexico border, economic revitalization including investing in coal and natural gas, and U.S. relations with China.

Mooney was elected to represent District 2 in 2014. Former President Donald Trump (R), the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Mooney. In an October 2021 interview with MetroNews, Mooney highlighted what he called his conservative record and said that’s what should appeal to voters in the district. His campaign website highlighted as key issues the 2nd Amendment, the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing regulation of the state’s energy industry.

McKinley has criticized Mooney for previously holding office in Maryland and running unsuccessful campaigns in both Maryland and New Hampshire. Mooney responded to these criticisms by saying he became a West Virginian by choice and that his eight years in the U.S. House representing the state should matter more than his past campaigns.

Mooney calls McKinley a Republican in name only, citing McKinley’s votes in favor of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the creation of a January 6 commission. McKinley said that his infrastructure vote reflected what was best for the constituents of West Virginia and that he only supported the initial creation of a bicameral January 6 commission and not the final House-only committee.

Also running in the primary are Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules, and Mike Seckman.

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West Virginia U.S. House delegation shrinking from three to two sets up primary between two representatives

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in West Virginia was Jan. 29, 2022. Thirteen candidates—three Democrats and 10 Republicans—are running for the state’s two U.S. House districts. That’s 6.5 candidates per district, more than the 4.7 candidates per district in 2020 and 6.3 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in West Virginia losing a U.S. House district.
  • The lost district has resulted in Reps. David McKinley (District 1) and Alexander Mooney (District 2) competing in the District 2 Republican primary.
  • Representative Carol Miller (R), who currently represents District 3, is running in District 1.
  • Since 2012, there have only been two election cycles with an open seat. There was one open seat in both 2018 and 2014.
  • Both Republican primaries are contested with five candidates each.
  • Neither seat is guaranteed to one party, with Democratic and Republican candidates running for both.
  • Seven candidates (two Democrats, five Republicans) are running in District 2, while six (one Democrat, five Republicans) are running in District 1

West Virginia’s U.S. House primaries will take place on May 10, 2022. The candidate with the most votes wins the primary, even without a majority, so no runoff elections will take place.



West Virginia enacts new congressional districts

West Virginia enacted new congressional districts on Oct. 22, 2021, when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a proposal approved by the House of Delegates and Senate into law. This map will take effect for West Virginia’s 2022 congressional elections.

On Sept. 30, 2021, the House and Senate Redistricting Committees released 18 congressional district map proposals. On Oct. 13, the West Virginia Senate passed a map proposed by Sen. Charles S. Trump IV in a 30-2 vote, which the House then approved on Oct. 14 in an 84-12 vote.

“This bill puts the state into two districts, which are compact and have low drive times,” said Del. Gary Howell (R). State Sen. Trump said, “Compactness is quite a challenge when you’re trying to draw any kind of district. The two West Virginia panhandles render the state uncompact. I believe this bill meets the constitutional requirements of both the United States constitution and the West Virginia constitution. I think it’s a good map.”

As of Oct. 25, five states have adopted new congressional maps, one state’s congressional map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 38 states have not yet adopted new congressional maps.

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 28 of the 435 seats (6.4%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.



Redistricting timeline update: West Virginia calls special session, Wyoming committee agrees on timeline

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from West Virginia and Wyoming.

West Virginia: On Oct. 7, 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) called for a special session starting Oct. 11 for the legislature to finish the redistricting process and approve legislative and congressional district maps. “This is on all the redistricting we have to do. We’ve got to do this and everything. The special session is part of the Legislature’s constitutional duty to redistrict the state of West Virginia,” Justice said.

Wyoming: At an Oct. 6, 2021, meeting, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Election and Political Subdivisions committee agreed on a schedule to finish the redistricting process. The committee set Nov. 1, 2021, as the deadline for map proposals. Redistricting legislation proposals must be finished by Dec. 1, 2021, so they can be reviewed before the 2022 budget session begins on Feb. 14. The committee plans to meet again in early November to go over any remaining issues with the map drafts, but has not set a date yet.



Michigan, West Virginia end statewide face-covering requirements

Two states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between June 18-24.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ended most remaining statewide coronavirus restrictions, including the statewide mask mandate, on June 22. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) ended the statewide mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals on June 20. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs. 

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 10 states had statewide mask orders. All 10 states have Democratic governors. Nine of the 10 states exempted fully vaccinated people from most requirements.

Of the 29 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 16 have Republican governors, and 13 have Democratic governors. Twenty-six states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.