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West Virginia editorial roundup

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm •  Published: April 22, 2015

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

April 21

Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail on Manchin's decision to stay in Senate:

Sen. Joe Manchin's Sunday announcement that he would not return to West Virginia and seek a third term as governor was a relief to other potential candidates, and to West Virginia taxpayers.

The Democrat had been toying with the idea of vacating his Senate seat. A recent poll showed Manchin had the edge in a hypothetical matchup against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. But Manchin announced on CBS This Morning his intentions of staying out of the 2016 election cycle.

Since he arrived on Capitol Hill five years ago, Manchin has voiced his frustration with Washington politics, saying it's nearly impossible to pass any meaningful legislation when lawmakers concentrate more on partisanship than the good of the public.

That fueled speculation that Manchin, one of the state's most popular politicians, would give up his Senate seat and seek a return to the Governor's Mansion in 2016.

Manchin was an effective governor, and he'll be a more effective Senator now. He offers a moderate view and hasn't shied away from criticizing the Obama administration or Harry Reid, who did not earn Manchin's vote as minority leader when Congress convened earlier this year.

But Obama will be out of office in 2017 and Reid will retire at the end of his term. A changing of the guard could mean a more deliberative tone in Washington.

Perhaps without obstructionist Reid and a more even-handed commander in chief, Congress can successfully introduce, debate and pass new laws. That is the Washington Manchin — and America — would rather see.

Manchin staying put also means no more special elections. The state was forced to fund not one, but two special elections when Manchin vacated the Governor's Mansion after Sen. Robert C. Byrd's death in 2010.

If Manchin had decided to run for governor in 2016, voters would potentially again be asked to participate in two special elections to replace Manchin the U.S. Senate, as his seat won't be up for re-election until 2018.

Manchin is smart, pragmatic and loves his home state. He said leaving his position as governor to fill Byrd's seat was the hardest political decision of his life. To stay in Washington is the second hardest.

Difficult though that decision may be, it is the right one. With Manchin's political prowess and growing influence, he could become an even bigger player in the Senate.

Couple that with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's experience, the pair could develop relationships with senators on both sides of the aisle, advocate for bipartisan legislation and pack a one-two punch that moves West Virginia forward.



April 19

The Register-Herald, Bleckley, West Virginia, on "aftershocks" from decline of coal:

The decline of coal in southern West Virginia continues to be felt in our communities.

The loss of jobs is perhaps the most immediate impact, and the hardship that those layoff notices have placed on families is significant and real.

But there are other effects that are more subtle, that we could almost characterize as "aftershocks" that are occurring down the line.

Today we have a story exploring the effects of the striking decline in coal severance taxes that most counties in southern West Virginia are now experiencing.

State revenue numbers show that coal severance taxes hit a peak in 2012 of $531.1 million, and have been in a steep decline ever since.

In 2014, coal severance tax revenues had dropped to $407.1 million statewide.

Natural gas severance taxes have picked up some of that slack. But those gas wells aren't in southern West Virginia, and most of those tax revenues go to counties in the northern part of the state where the gas fields are located.

In addition, counties here grew to depend on other taxes related to coal, such as local taxes on land, mining equipment and coal inventories.

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