The WV House of Delegates has begun impeachment hearings against disgraced Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry. Loughry was recently indicted on a multitude of charges that were brought by the new Southern District federal prosecutor, Mike Stuart. Stuart’s team alleges that Loughry committed theft, fraud and perjury while he was a standing elected member of the WV Supreme Court. Loughry has refused to step down or resign from his position. This unwillingness to leave the bench has culminated in legislative impeachment deliberations.
According to the state constitution, the House of Delegates (and specifically the Judiciarytion Committee) will be responsible for delving into the evidence and testimony compiled by the federal agencies and state legislative auditor to build a case for impeachment. The State Senate will act as the jury should the House deliberations call for an impeachment vote.
The state legislature has not been involved in an impeachment proceeding since lawmakers attempted to impeach then State Treasurer A. James Manchin in 1989. With impeachment deliberations looming, Manchin decided to resign his State Treasurer position.
In a more optimistic bit of news, the Justice administration announced that the state has ended in 2018 fiscal year with a $20 million surplus. This is the first time in six years that revenues exceeded estimates.
The panel created by Governor Justice to explore possible funding options for the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) has concluded its 21 city tour of hearings and public input. The harder task now looms — can the panel, lawmakers and the Governor agree on a funding source that will predictably raise $50 million for each new fiscal year. That task might have lost any quick impetus when PEIA auditors announced that the agency would end the year with approximately $25 million surplus for 2018 and another $50 million surplus predicted for 2019. Lawmakers have recently rejected any possible severance tax increase when Tax Commission analysts stated the tax was too cyclical and unpredictable for a steady revenue source.
The State Parkway Authority announced that it has recently agreement to sell $172 million in road improvement bonds. This first tranche will be augmented by an additional $130 million in additional bonds to be marketed sometime in 2019 or 2020. The total amount to be raised is $200 million less than originally $500 million projection. Parkway Authority executives point to lower toll projections as the main reason for the lower bond sale.