Always Free WV

Huntington Chamber of Commerce Head to West Virginians: Maybe You Should Leave

West Virginians faced with economic and environmental devastation have been forced to leave their beloved hills and hollows for too long. But if you ask Bill Bissett, the head of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, people who seek to hold coal and gas companies accountable for cleaning up their messes should just leave. In Mr. Bissett’s Letter to the Editor in the Huntington Herald Dispatch, he stated, “We need to change ‘The Struggle to Stay’ to ‘Maybe You Should Leave’: ...if you only see negativity here and have soiled to the possibility that the state can be improved and succeed, maybe you should leave.”

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SB 622 is not Campaign Finance Reform! Demand a VETO!

West Virginians are proud Americans who love democracy and believe that every citizen should have an equal say in how our government is run and our laws are made. The Founding Fathers, however, weren’t sure a pure democracy in which everyone had an equal voice and vote would work. They were all wealthy landowners and reserved the vote for land owning white men for the most part. Senators and the President were not elected directly, but by state legislatures or electors—all essentially wealthy, land owning men.

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Out of State Money Already Has Our Leaders’ Ears… Do We Want To Give Them A Louder Microphone?

This year’s legislative session many of our leaders showed where their loyalties lie. Time after time bills came up that had vast public opposition, only for the legislature to push them through because big money lobbyists rolled into their office with an argument that served special interests over the people.

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What would you do with an extra $1,800 ?

It’s no secret that money plays a huge role in WV Politics. Look at the steam coal severance tax cut our legislature passed earlier this year. The coal companies pushing for those tax cuts were owned by some of the same men who contributed millions to the various campaigns and PACs that got our current leaders elected. It’s clear that their campaign contributions got them something in return.

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Do legislators want to keep us in the dark about campaign finance law?

Recently, members of the WV Legislature had a chance to help clean up West Virginia elections.  They took a vote on a bill amendment to shine light on who contributes “dark money” to groups that spend money on political ads, so that voters could actually know who’s trying to influence their votes and their elected representatives.

They voted it down.

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West Virginians Stood Together and Prevented Disastrous Bills!

What can we learn from this year’s legislative session? One important lesson is that when citizens band together in large numbers, descend on the Capitol, and make their voices heard directly by legislators, it can affect their votes. 

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Campaign Contributions Leverage Millions in WV Tax Breaks

In our just completed legislative session, Bob Murray, owner of Murray Energy – a major coal producer in our state, cashed in on his generous campaign contributions with a $60 million tax break on West Virginia’s coal severance taxes. Not a bad return on a less than 2-million-dollar investment in our corrupt political system!

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The Passage of Privatization of the Foster Care System Bill Could Result in “Kids for Cash” Scheme!

Is West Virginia about to be forced into a system that values profits over kids? That’s what happened in Pennsylvania.

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A West Virginian by Choice Wonders: Is This Who We Are?

By Always Free WV Advisory Committee Member, Kendra Fershee

I moved to West Virginia seven years ago, over the strenuous objections of pretty much everyone I know who has never lived in or visited West Virginia. I have to admit, the only things I’d ever heard about West Virginia -- news stories and bad jokes, mostly -- were pretty awful. But then I visited my future home for a job interview and I was struck, almost immediately, by how wrong that reputation is. It’s easy to see the beauty here, in the place and in the people. But perception is more important than reality, and the perception of West Virginia in other states is often about as bad as it gets. And after another round of horrible news stories coming out of Charleston last week, highlighting some West Virginians’ ignorant attacks on our Muslim neighbors, unfortunately, we’ve slipped farther from turning the tide on that reputation.

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Corporations pay less in taxes as WV college tuitions rise and enrollment plummets

As 2019 legislative leaders consider reducing corporate taxes yet again, declining funding for colleges and universities has degraded our schools and led to declining student enrollment.

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