Education, Energy, West Virginia Legislature

Senate OKs resolution urging Mon Power to buy Pleasants Power Station, passes 2 education bills

MORGANTOWN – The state Senate got a jump on the House of Delegates on Monday, unanimously adopting a resolution urging Mon Power to buy the Pleasants Power Station. A twin resolution passed out of the House Energy Committee last Thursday and has been sitting in House Rules.

Senators also passed a bill establishing a Charter Schools Stimulus Fund and one criminalizing school employees having sexual contact with students.

The Mon Power resolution is SR 29. It says Pleasants has served the mid-Ohio Valley since 1979 and employs 154 people. It supplies 9% of the state’s power generation, has a $128 million annual impact in Pleasants County and contributes $1.75 million in annual taxes to the county and school board. It contributes $400 million annually to the region.

The resolution notes that Mon Power is undertaking a feasibility study on the potential purpose.

Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, presented the resolution on the Senate floor, calling the plant the “economic life blood of the county.”

It’s the single-largest taxpayer of state’s firth-smallest county, she said. Like many other places, Pleasants County has seen hard times. “The county has seen three major industrial facilities shuttered over the years and cannot afford to lose another. … The loss of Pleasants Power would leave a mark on its host community.”

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, expressed support for the resolution, saying his hometown of Rivesville saw its small power station close some years ago. “It was devastating to that little town. … They’re really running on a wing and prayer now since that plant closed.”

The House resolution is HR 12.

Other bills

SB 47 creates the Charter Schools Stimulus Fund to support charter school applicants and charter schools that may not have the resources for start-up costs.

The fund would consist of money appropriated by the Legislature, grants, gifts and donations from any public or private source. It provides an initial grant of up to $300,000 before or during the school’s first two years of existence, followed by a possible second grant of up to $100,000. Grants must be paid back if the school fails to begin operating within 30 months of its most recent grant.

The bill provides no money for the fund; if it becomes law, the Legislature would have to choose to appropriate money for it.

The vote was 32-1, with the sole nay vote from Caputo. The bill goes to the House.

SB 187 creates a new felony for any public or private school teacher, principal, counselor, coach, other employee or volunteer to engage in sexual intercourse, sexual intrusion, or sexual contact with any student regardless of the student’s age. Student consent, or occurrence of the act off of school property or outside of a school function do not qualify as defenses.

The vote was unanimous and it goes to the House.

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