01 October 2009

W.Va. Lottery Fight Continues

A dispute over non-lottery gambling machines in West Virginia is pitting a Harrison County business against the Lottery Commission, The Associated Press reports.

A Kanawha Circuit judge has temporarily extended the license that allows Buck's Inc. to lease "limited" video lottery machines to participating bars and clubs, after the commission refused to renew it.

The commission is expected to petition the Supreme Court to block Judge Jim Stucky's ruling.

Lottery officials denied the renewal by citing "an ongoing dispute over “video-enhanced raffle ticket dispensing machines,”the article said. "State and federal investigators seized 144 of the devices in January from a customer of Buck’s, the Elks Lodge 482 in Clarksburg. Both the Tax Department, which regulates raffles and bingo, and the Lottery Commission argue such machines violate state law."

Both Buck's and the Elks lodge have challenged that finding in several pending court filings.

30 September 2009

WV Court Study Ends Public Phase

Possible additions to West Virginia's court system was the focus of the third and final meeting of the Gov. Manchin-appointed Independent Commission on Judicial Reform.

The Associated Press has details. Others with coverage include The Charleston Gazette, the Charleston Daily Mail and MetroNews.

Rockefeller Rebuffed on Public Option

The Senate Finance Committee's version of health care overhaul legislation will not include a "public option" provision, after it rejected the necessary amendment from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, The Associated Press reports.

The West Virginia Democrat's bid for a "new federally-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers" fell 15-8, AP reports. Five members from his party joined the committee's Republicans to defeat the proposal. A similar amendment from Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also failed.

"The bill includes new consumer protections, including a ban on companies denying insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions," the article said. "At the same time it provides government subsidies to help lower-income Americans afford insurance that is currently beyond their means. It also includes steps that supporters say will begin to slow the growth in health care costs nationwide."

AP also explains that "Finance is the last of five congressional panels completing work on President Barack Obama's No. 1 domestic priority, a top-to-bottom reshaping of the U.S. health care system to hold down costs and extend coverage to the uninsured."

Public Broadcasting has coverage (with audio), and notes that "Rockefeller can still bring an amendment to the Senate floor."

MetroNews has a report, and audio from the committee debate.

28 September 2009

Marshall's Turn for a Grading Dispute

Both state Treasurer John Perdue and his daughter Emily have spoken to The Charleston Gazette about a dispute over grades she's received for independent coursework at Marshall University.

The younger Perdue "said she did nothing wrong and got no special treatment when she earned two A grades this summer to replace two 'incomplete' grades for courses she took during the spring 2009 semester," the article said.

She and her father said the school had allowed her to remedy the incompletes under the instruction of Rosalyn Templeton, executive dean of Marshall's College of Education and Human Service.

The Democratic officeholder had earlier told The Associated Press and others that his daughter "has become an innocent victim in an internal power struggle" in Templeton's department.

The daughter's professor during that spring coursework, Laura Wyant, has asked Marshall's Faculty Senate to investigate the grade changes, arguing they were done without her permission.

School Provost Gayle Ormiston told AP that he's reviewed the situation and concluded that Perdue's daughter "earned the grades" after she completed the coursework.

The Charleston Daily Mail, which first reported the story, called Templeton's involvement an "unusual step" as she had not been the instructor for the two independent study classes. That article also said that "Emily apparently needed the courses to gain admittance to Marshall's business school."

The Daily Mail also interviewed some of the daughter's classmates, who questioned her attendance at the coursework's non-mandatory class meetings and said that she brought her mother with her to these meetings at least twice. It further quotes an e-mail to report that Emily Perdue and her father met with a business school dean about completing the coursework so she could enter the program.

AP noted that "Perdue's situation comes two years after West Virginia University became embroiled in a master's degree scandal involving Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter. Former WVU President Mike Garrison resigned and former Provost Gerald Lang gave up his administrative post after investigators found that Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch was wrongly awarded a retroactive degree."

Update: the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington reports that Wyant "will take whatever steps are necessary to file a grievance" over the grade changes.