West Virginia editorial roundup
Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
Charleston Daily Mail on out-of-state influence during the teachers strike:
Only hours after the state’s teachers and school service personnel unions called a strike last week, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten flew in to rally striking teachers and preach the evils of school choice and charter schools.
Why would the state’s three school worker unions listen to her? She is from out of state.
That’s a ridiculous argument, but from listening to the strikers chants, comments in the news media and on social media, it appears powerful out-of-state groups are trying to ruin West Virginia’s monopolistic and bureaucratic education system with student-hurting ideas like school choice, charter schools and every other evil idea the state Senate concocted in Senate Bill 451.
But doesn’t Randi Weingarten represent a powerful monied out-of-state interest? Why didn’t the strikers run her out on a rail?
The lack of quality answers to that question goes hand in hand with the lack of quality answers for the other questions that in-state and out-of-state education reformers keep asking those who oppose education reform.
Why are education reforms that are being adopted and readily accepted in so many other states — strong Democrat and strong union states included — so “bad” for students in West Virginia? Why wouldn’t concepts that work well above the Mason-Dixon Line, west of the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers, and east of the Alleghenies not work in the Mountain State?
A Daily Mail columnist, formerly a Charleston resident, tweeted actively during the strike in favor of reforms. Those opposed to SB 451 on Twitter asked in many variations: “Why should anyone listen to her? She’s from out of state.”
But it’s not just in education-related issues that there appears to be a strong bias against people and ideas from outside West Virginia.
Publicly traded corporations with headquarters located outside the state — those that actually provide secure, high-paying jobs to many in West Virginia — are often the target of hostility, even when they have significant offices and operations in West Virginia.
The critics make it sound as if out-of-staters are coming in and “taking our jobs,” yet West Virginia has the lowest rate of entrepreneurial job creation and the lowest workforce participation rate. Anyone providing jobs in the state aren’t taking jobs, they are providing them to West Virginians willing to work.
As we all know, our state naturally ranks No. 1 in the hearts of West Virginians. Unfortunately, it ranks low in too many economic, education and cultural measures to count.
In the marketplace, companies that succeed aren’t the ones that reject what their competitors are doing. The companies that perform best watch their competitors, listen, learn, improve and become better.
Like it or not, West Virginia is competing with other states in many areas. But West Virginia won’t become better by rejecting ideas and concepts that succeed elsewhere. We need to listen and learn from smart people, wherever they are from.
The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington on a bill that would amend the state jobs act to make secret how much workers are paid on publicly funded projects:
Just like a bad penny, legislation that would weaken the transparency — and therefore the accountability — called for in the West Virginia Jobs Act keeps turning up.
For at least the third straight year, a bill has been introduced that would amend the jobs act to make secret how much workers are paid when they are working on publicly funded projects in the state. Currently, the act requires that employers on such projects provide that information to the state, as well as the workers’ places of residence and their occupations. Because of those reporting requirements, the wages, place of residence and occupation are public record.
In both the 2017 and 2018 sessions of the legislature, the proposal for more secrecy failed to make it into law. Let’s hope that the same fate awaits House Bill 2441 this year.
The West Virginia Jobs Act was first passed by the legislature in 2001 and renewed in 2006. The rationale for it was clear in the law’s statement of policy: “The Legislature finds that the employment of persons from outside the local labor market on public improvement construction projects contracted for and subsidized by the taxpayers of the state contributes significantly to the rate of unemployment and the low per capita income among qualified state residents who would otherwise be hired for these jobs.”
To counteract that, the act required that employers on taxpayer-funded projects hire at least 75 percent of employees from the local labor market, and if they couldn’t find those employees locally, to work with state job officials to try to find them. If the requirement then couldn’t be met, the employer could seek a waiver to continue with the project.
To verify whether employers were complying, the law required that they file with the Division of Labor their certified payrolls that include the number of employees, the county and state where the employees reside and their occupations. The law calls for the Division of Labor to compile the information and submit it yearly to the legislature, which then could forward it to the legislative auditor for review.
HB 2441 would eliminate the requirement for certified payrolls, thus shielding key information from the public and the people who are footing the bill for construction projects. In doing so, the information also would be unavailable to lawmakers, meaning the level of their oversight is diminished. We doubt that a majority of legislators want that — or we certainly hope that’s the case.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph on state lawmakers approving a bill to allow retail outlets to sell liquor on Sundays:
Lawmakers in Charleston have approved a bill permitting Sunday liquor sales in the Mountain State. The measure is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Jim Justice.
This was certainly long overdue.
House Bill 2481, sponsored by Del. Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, permits Sunday liquor sales after 1 p.m., except on Christmas and Easter. It passed the House last week 86-12. That vote is a pretty convincing margin. The same bill also cleared the Senate.
Retailers can already sell wine and beer on Sundays. Now, assuming Justice signs the bill into law, they will be able to sell liquor on Sunday as well.
Some in our region probably won’t be happy with the move, but we believe it makes sense.
Keep in mind the fact that neighboring Virginia allows for the sale of alcohol on Sunday. So no one in Mercer County who wanted liquor on Sunday was going without it. All they had to do was cross the state line into Bluefield, Va., to purchase liquor if they so desired.
Now retailers on the West Virginia side of the border will be on equal footing.
Telling retailers that they can’t sell liquor on Sunday harkens back to the so-called “blue laws” of old.
Many long-time residents in the region can remember when stores in the area were required to be closed on Sundays. Blue laws, also known as Sunday-closing laws, generally sought to encourage a day of rest, family gatherings and church going.
But that was then. This is now.
In the year 2019, most folks are able to juggle multiple responsibilities on Sunday. That includes going to church, while also spending time with our family and shopping — the latter of which helps our local economy.
So go ahead and let the booze flow on Sunday. But remember to always drink responsibly, and never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol.