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West Virginia editorial roundup

July 31, 2019

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

July 29

The Charleston Gazette-Mail on an increase in the number of guns found in carry-on luggage at two airports in West Virginia this year:

Again, we are imploring gun owners to be responsible with their weapons by knowing where they are at all times and keeping them secure.

Another traveler was stopped by Transportation Safety Administration officers at Yeager Airport over the weekend when a loaded handgun was found in her carry-on bag. That marks the fifth time this year this has happened at Yeager, according to TSA officials. Earlier this month, at Huntington Tri-State Airport, two people were cited for trying to bring firearms onto planes within a span of four days.

Between the two airports, there have been 11 incidents of passengers trying to board planes with firearms, and it’s only late July. In all of 2018, there were only two such incidents in Huntington.

Individually, both airports have already outpaced JFK International, where four such incidents had occurred as of mid-July, according to the TSA. One of those incidents involved a man from West Virginia who had a loaded firearm in his carry-on.

The troubling thing uniting all of these incidents is that, nearly every time, the gun owner knows it’s illegal to bring a firearm on a plane and has simply forgotten the gun was in their bag.

Look, modern life is frantic. People are always going from one place to the next, usually in a hurry. But it’s not like these are discarded packs of Tic-Tacs in the bottom of a duffel bag or purse. They’re handguns, often loaded and, sometimes, with a round in the chamber.

If someone can’t remember they left a loaded, lethal instrument in their carry-on bag, where else are they or others being absent-minded about it? That’s the real issue, here. Too many people die or are wounded because a gun owner hasn’t properly stored or secured a firearm. If Americans want to continue to have the right to own guns, they need to treat them with the grave responsibility such ownership demands. It’s vital, not only to their own safety, but the safety of everyone around them.

Here’s another refresher. If an airline passenger wants to bring their firearm to their destination, it must be checked as luggage, unloaded and stored in a hard case. Ammunition must be packed separately.

Those who attempt to bring a firearm on a plane can be arrested, and are almost always issued a citation that can carry a fine of more than $13,000. A typical fine for a first offense is about $4,000.

Online: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/

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July 27

The Exponent Telegram on federal legislation that would decrease the cost of insulin:

In a state where studies show more than 250,000 people have some form of diabetes, the cost of insulin is a major issue. West Virginia has the highest percentage of people affected by some form of diabetes.

So when insulin prices nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, and remain at the higher levels, people had to start making decisions whether to remain on insulin, to cut doses or to forgo other things — like food.

As basic as that may sound, studies have shown the rising cost of insulin has had a dramatic effect on people, especially those with fewer resources or insurance that had a high deductible.

For those with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is life sustaining. Without it, people die.

Many of those with Type 2 diabetes begin treatment with lifestyle changes and/or oral medication, but medical evidence shows that a majority end up on insulin at some point in their lives.

With these factors in mind, we strongly support legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate this week — the Insulin Price Reduction Act.

Introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who are co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, as well as Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota, the bill shows a real bipartisan effort to reduce the inflationary practices of drug manufacturers in regards to life-sustaining medication.

“Insulin is a matter of life and death,” said LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Advocacy for the American Diabetes Association. “For the many Americans who cannot afford their insulin, the consequences can be dire, including dangerous complications and even death.

“The American Diabetes Association applauds Senators Shaheen, Collins, Carper and Cramer for their leadership to address this urgent issue. We implore all members of Congress to act swiftly to bring down the cost of this life-saving medication by supporting the Insulin Price Reduction Act.”

It was the American Diabetes Association (ADA) survey of 2018 that brought to light the ongoing struggle of diabetics in balancing the soaring costs of insulin with other life expenses.

As the ADA press release stated, the survey “confirmed that many individuals who face high out-of-pocket costs for insulin are not adhering to their diabetes care plan — they are forced to either ration or forgo insulin doses to reduce costs.

“Insulin is essential to maintaining appropriate blood glucose levels and reducing the risk of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, amputation and death. When insulin is not taken appropriately, the risk of serious complications increases and could lead to emergency hospitalization and death.”

We urge Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, to quickly join forces with the four sponsors to push the Insulin Price Reduction Act to passage and then advocate House members to join the effort.

Not only will this law help those directly affected by diabetes and their families, it will send a clear message that President Donald Trump and Congress are serious in their efforts to put more stringent pricing guidelines in place to protect the American public.

Lawmakers and the president need to hold pharmaceutical companies more accountable and responsible.

Online: https://www.wvnews.com/theet/

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July 26

Times West Virginian on legislation that gave a $12.5 million tax break to a coal plant in Pleasants County:

How careful should one be when spending a large sum of money?

Consider buying a car — most would spend days, even weeks, shopping around, looking at different prices of makes and models and comparing local dealerships before committing to spending upwards of $15,000.

West Virginia lawmakers, however, felt it was appropriate to spend $12.5 million, and spend it as quickly and with as little debate as possible.

...Days ago, our state leaders passed House Bill 207, a bill that would cut state revenue by $12.5 million for the sake of keeping a coal plant in Pleasants County from going bankrupt. The worst part? Experts are skeptical it will even work.

“It just doesn’t make sense, but I don’t think the Legislature gave it a whole lot of scrutiny,” said James Van Nostrand, director of WVU’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development and professor of law. “I don’t think First Energy did a great job of providing the numbers to really convince anyone that a $12 million tax break’s going to make that much difference.

“First Energy said that’s what we need to keep the coal plant open, then everybody just falls in line and passes it.”

And pass it they did, with an overwhelming majority. In the House of Delegates, the bill passed 77-5 with 18 absences, while in the Senate, it passed unanimously 28-0 with six absences. West Virginia constitutional rules were even suspended so the bill could pass as quickly as possible.

It seemed our leaders wanted to support the free market and create competition as they passionately argued for the creation of charter schools in West Virginia, but when a coal-fired power plant couldn’t compete in that same market, a bailout was in order.

It’s also notable that the plant itself, the Pleasants County Power Station, is being taken over by First Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of current owner First Energy, and First Energy Solutions is already filing bankruptcy.

Since 2010, 289 coal-fired power plants have closed — 51 of which occurred with President Donald Trump in office. Yet, our state lawmakers continue to staunchly defy the overwhelming evidence that there will be no slowing of the downward spiral of the coal industry, and they do so at the cost of their constituents.

The short-sightedness in Charleston has disappointed us time and time again, so while this bill is upsetting and seems to us like an absolute waste of money, it is wholly unsurprising.

There are myriad issues in our state, and all of them could have made great use of $12.5 million. Instead, it’s been wasted so our representatives can pat themselves on the back for prolonging the inevitable.

Online: https://www.timeswv.com/

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