West Virginia Week in Review - March 6, 2021


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Gov. Justice submits legislation to repeal personal income tax, putting more money in every West Virginian’s pocket on day one
Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday that he has submitted to the West Virginia Legislature a bill that will seize a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform West Virginia’s tax structure; raising wages, raising home values, bringing in more businesses, more people, and making life better for all West Virginians.

“We may never have an opportunity like this ever again,” Gov. Justice said. “Because of how we’ve handled the COVID-19 pandemic – how we’ve saved lives, had the best vaccine program in the nation, and kept our economy on the move – the spotlight of the world is on West Virginia right now. This is the time to seize our opportunity!"
This week, on Tuesday and Friday afternoon, Gov. Justice hosted town halls to answer questions from the public on the Income Tax proposal.

Every West Virginian will benefit from the Governor’s plan. All lower income brackets less than $35,000 a year will receive a tax rebate check under the plan. Low income and high income taxpayers will all see a net positive benefit if this plan is enacted.
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Gov. Justice makes vaccines available to residents age 50+, education workers age 40-50, and all 16+ with certain medical conditions
During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that West Virginia will start offering COVID-19 vaccines to additional state residents beginning immediately.

Vaccinations are now available for all West Virginia residents age 50 and older, all West Virginia education workers from 40 to 50 years old, and all West Virginians age 16 and older with any of the following pre-existing medical conditions: 
  • Down syndrome
  • Intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caretakers
  • Caretakers of those with congenital or acquired disease
  • Organ or bone marrow transplant
  • Obesity (BMI > 35)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Cystic fibrosis  
  • Pregnancy
On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, following the FDA’s emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, West Virginia was set to receive an initial allocation of 15,500 doses of the new vaccine this week.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot, unlike the two-shot dosing for the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and it does not require special refrigeration for shipment and storage, making it particularly appealing for use in West Virginia’s rural areas.

In addition, the Governor announced that West Virginia would also be receiving 36,270 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 34,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week.
As of Friday afternoon, 12.1 percent of West Virginia's entire population has received both doses of the vaccines; a rate so high that, if West Virginia were its own country, it would rank as the 7th-best rate of any nation in the world.

West Virginia has successfully administered 532,805 doses after receiving a total allotment of 583,230 doses from the federal government to date; an overall administration rate of 91.4%.

All West Virginians over the age of 16 are encouraged to pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov.
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Gov. Justice loosens restrictions on businesses, social gatherings, and youth travel sports
On Friday, Gov. Justice announced that, after continued discussions with members of the West Virginia pandemic response leadership team regarding the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases and the increasing number of vaccinated West Virginians, he is lifting capacity restrictions on several types of West Virginia businesses, increasing the social gathering limit, and permitting more youth travel sports to take place.

Restaurants and Bars
On Friday, Gov. Justice signed Executive Order 8-21, which increases the capacity limit for all restaurants and bars to 100% of their seating capacity; up from 75% previously.

This change applies only if social distancing can be maintained between groups that arrive and sit together.

Small Businesses, Retail Stores, and Grocery Stores
At the direction of Gov. Justice, the DHHR has amended its rules to lift all capacity limitations for small businesses, retail stores, and grocery stores, provided that all such businesses continue to follow all applicable safety guidelines, including, but not limited to, mandatory face coverings and social distancing.

Other Venues
The Governor also announced that he will be increasing the capacity limit for other businesses that still had capacity restrictions, such as gyms, fitness centers, and museums, to 100% of their capacity.

Social Gathering Limit
Executive Order 8-21 also increases the social gathering limit to 100 people; up from 75 previously.

Youth Travel Sports
Executive Order 8-21 also allows all youth travel sports to take place, except for games, practices, or any other types of competition within counties designated as “Red” in the DHHR’s County Alert System map (Click "County Alert System" tab).
Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice announced that, while no changes have been made yet to the restrictions on fairs, festivals, carnivals, or similar events, with spring now approaching, he has begun to consult with the West Virginia pandemic response leadership team about ways to enable all these events to take place this year, while maintaining safety.
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Gov. Justice: Face covering requirement to remain in effect
On Friday, Gov. Justice clarified that it is still mandatory to wear a face covering indoors, in all public buildings, at all times, unless actively eating or drinking.

“We do continue to expect you to wear these masks,” Gov. Justice said. “You know, I’m not a fan of the masks either. But, at the same time, we know they’ve saved a lot of lives, and we know we’re too early in the game to let our guard down."
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Gov. Justice declares State of Emergency for 18 counties affected by flooding
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice declared a State of Emergency for Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Clay, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Randolph, Roane, Upshur, and Wayne counties. Heavy rains caused flooding, power outages, and road blockages across all 18 counties.

The State of Emergency will remain in effect for 30 days, unless terminated by subsequent proclamation.
West Virginia Division of Highways road crews were out in force this week battling mudslides, flooding and fallen trees following the two days of heavy rain. Dozens of roads had to be closed due to high water.
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Gov. Justice announces $34.2M revenue surplus for February
On Monday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia’s general revenue collections for the month of February 2021 came in at $34.2 million above estimates and 7.4% above prior year receipts, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the state’s economy. Year-to-date general revenue collections are now $208 million above estimates and 4.9% above prior year receipts. West Virginia has now banked surpluses in seven of the first eight months of Fiscal Year 2021.
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Gov. Justice announces Sheetz to build $2 million distribution depot, create 30 new jobs in Jefferson County
Gov. Justice announced Monday that convenience store chain Sheetz Inc. will build a $2 million distribution truck transfer station at Burr Industrial Park in Kearneysville. When completed, the truck transfer station will employ 34 workers. That number includes the creation of 30 new jobs, primarily for truck drivers and delivery assistants. Interviews will begin in the summer of 2021 for positions starting in early 2022.
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West Virginia covering cost of ACT exam for seniors applying for Promise Scholarship; application deadline pushed back
On Monday, Gov. Justice announced that, in consultation with Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, he is authorizing $341,000 in federal GEER funding to cover the cost of ACT on-campus exams for seniors applying for the Promise Scholarship. According to ACT, West Virginia is the first state in the nation to cover these testing costs for seniors.

The Governor also announced that he also asked Chancellor Tucker to request that the HEPC push back the Promise Scholarship application deadline, which was originally scheduled for midnight Monday.
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Governor honors 125 West Virginia National Guard soldiers deployed to Middle East
On Monday, Gov. Justice took time to offer his prayers and best wishes to the 125 soldiers from the West Virginia National Guard’s 111th Engineer Brigade, who deployed for the Middle East Sunday. Their mission will be to conduct engineer tasks such as project development and construction missions while also supporting our partner nations.
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Gov. Justice, WVDOT debut online map of all 2021 roadwork projects statewide
Gov. Justice and the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways announced Monday that an interactive online map of all 2021 roadwork projects statewide is now available. The map allows users to search for any address or zoom in on any area of the state to view the types of work that are upcoming, underway, or have already been completed.
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Gov. Justice announces new partnership with Jobcase; online hiring event held Thursday
Gov. Justice announced Tuesday that the State of West Virginia has entered into a public-private partnership with Jobcase to connect more job seekers and companies in West Virginia, including an online hiring event that was held Thursday. West Virginia’s partnership with Jobcase, the social platform dedicated to empowering workers, connects tens of thousands of job seekers with employers across the state. It includes promotion of local jobs, both to residents throughout the state and also in the wider region, seeking to draw additional workers to West Virginia. The outreach campaign builds on earlier and ongoing Jobcase efforts to increase awareness of the many available job opportunities in West Virginia, and to highlight the state itself as a great place to live and work.
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Gov. Justice appoints Maryclaire Akers as judge for Thirteenth Judicial Circuit serving Kanawha County
Gov. Justice has appointed Maryclaire Akers, of Charleston, WV, to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, which serves Kanawha County. Akers is set to fill the seat vacated by the death of Judge Charles E. King, Jr. Akers has practiced law in West Virginia for 21 years. Much of her career work has taken place in the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where she has served as the Chief of Staff and is currently a Senior Assistant Prosecutor. She has also served the public as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, General Counsel for the West Virginia Ethics Commission, and as an Assistant Attorney General.
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Gov. Justice proclaims Monday as “West Virginia History Day”
On Monday, Gov. Justice took time to announce that he signed a proclamation, officially declaring Monday as West Virginia History Day. The purpose of History Day is to recognize the importance of the rich culture and history of the Mountain State. Usually, this annual event is part of History Day at the Legislature, but it was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. 
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Gov. Justice honors master painter for six decades of craftsmanship and preservation of the Capitol Building
Over the course of its 89 years, the West Virginia State Capitol building has undergone several major paint restoration projects, and master painter Richard Withrow of the W.Q. Watters Company has performed or supervised work on nearly every one of those projects. In recognition of his personal contributions over the last six decades to the restoration of the West Virginia Capitol Building, including the current restoration project anticipated for completion in Spring 2021, Gov. Justice has given Mr. Withrow the Distinguished Mountaineer Award. Mr. Withrow was also invited to inscribe his signature alongside the original painters.
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Williamstown roundabout comes full circle
 A $4.3 million roundabout project to fix a dangerous intersection in Williamstown is now open. The roundabout project was announced by Gov. Jim Justice in 2019 and paid for with Roads to Prosperity highway funds. State highway officials decided on a roundabout to address constant backups and accidents at the intersection of WV 14 and WV 31 following lengthy discussions with local officials.
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With opening of asphalt plants, WVDOH kicks off aggressive pothole patching initiative
West Virginia Division of Highways road repair crews are taking advantage of the earliest sign of spring weather and getting a jump on repairing the roadway damage winter left behind. The moment asphalt plants began to open in West Virginia, transportation workers were ready. While asphalt plants in many parts of West Virginia are still closed, a plant in St. Albans opened last week. Transportation workers immediately got in line for hot asphalt, to fill up their trucks and began their attack on potholes.
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West Virginia students selected for United States Senate Youth Program
The West Virginia Department of Education congratulates two students recently selected to represent the state as part of the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). Ms. Olivia Brooke Hindman and Ms. Emma Lucia Romano will join Senator Joe Manchin III and Senator Shelley Moore Capito as student delegates during the 59th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 14 - 17, 2021. 
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HHOMA concludes Black History Month with virtual Trailblazer awards ceremony
The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA) closed the February 2021 Black History Month with a virtual awards ceremony. The event included the presentation of the annual Trailblazer Award, along with other awards, to West Virginians in the state’s minority communities who have exhibited lives of excellence in service.
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WVDNR increases Buffalo Creek trout stocking

After years of stream improvements and restoration work, Buffalo Creek has become one of southern West Virginia’s unique trout fishing waters. And things are about to get even better. As part of Gov. Jim Justice’s Spring Trout Stocking Initiative, the stocking rate for Buffalo Creek has been increased by 10 percent. More than 2,800 trout will be released into the Logan County stream in the coming months, in addition to the initial 2,800 fish stocked earlier this year.

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Click it or Ticket: It’s about saving lives
As the season changes from winter to spring and more drivers hit the roads, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (WV GHSP) is reminding all drivers of the importance of seat belt use. The WV GHSP is coordinating a statewide Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement mobilization that runs from March 5-21, 2021. West Virginia law enforcement officers will be out in full force, ticketing seat belt violators who are caught traveling without a buckled seat belt or transporting unrestrained children.
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Also this week:

West Virginia WIC celebrates National Nutrition Month

W.Va. Guard shares COVID-19 vaccine best practices and lessons learned with SPP Partner Peru

ONE WEEK LEFT: Deadline approaches for WVDOH hosted Bridge Design contest

W.Va. responders, communities, businesses rally during hazardous winter weather

WVDEP investigating blowout at former T&T Mine in Preston County

Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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