Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Jan. 28 letters to the editor

Who needs tested on the Constitution?

As a former social studies teacher in the Monongalia County School system, I was amused upon reading in The Dominion Post that the Legislature has proposed HB 4186, which would require all high school seniors to pass a test on the Constitution of the United States of America before they could graduate from high school.

These students will have had lessons on the Constitution in ninth grade in American Studies and 12th grade Civics classes. They have more than a casual relationship with that great document.

Passage of the law would cost the state a lot of money. The test would have to be standardized using a testing company. The company would develop the test, set the standards, create a testing window, assign test dates and grade the test using a standardized grading and reporting system. All before graduation; notifying the schools and students of failure and possible retesting dates.

What I would like to see is all candidates for local, state and national offices to pass a test on the Constitution, as many of their bills seem to reflect a lack of such knowledge. This cost could be minimal as I and a couple of my retired teacher friends would gladly make up the test and grade it.

Ray Wilson
Bruceton Mills

Don’t let PSC take away net-metering for solar

I’ve always been interested in getting the electricity I need for our home from the sun. With the help of Solar Holler, I was able to determine if our house was in a location and oriented in a way that would be able to maximize the sun’s energy. Our location ended up being a perfect fit and by adding solar panels to our roof, we now harness energy to run all our household electricity needs.

Every West Virginian who installs solar helps to reduce strain on the entire electric grid. Because we are generating power, less power must be sent across power lines. That helps reduce the need for transmission and distribution upgrades.

If we produce more electricity than we need, we send that electricity back to the grid. My neighbors use that electricity, meaning that FirstEnergy needs to send them less electricity.

Through net-metering, we receive credit for excess power at the rate First Energy charges all customers (retail rate). That’s the same price we pay for power if our solar system produces less electricity than we use. This is a fair policy.

But now, that choice is at risk. FirstEnergy is an out-of-state monopoly that runs West Virginia’s MonPower and Potomac Edison. FirstEnergy has asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission to reduce net-metering in its West Virginia territory. Net-metering is a critical policy that allows solar customers to get fair compensation for the electricity they produce. FirstEnergy wants to change that. It wants to cut the rate for new solar customers by almost half. It wants to make it harder for West Virginians to go solar. People who already have solar, like my family, would still have access to net-metering through a grandfathering clause. If this proposal passes, in the future, families/businesses interested in installing solar wouldn’t receive the same benefit.

There’s still time to fight this unfair proposal. The PSC needs to hear from you. You can submit a comment opposing FirstEnergy’s proposal. Visit www.WVLovesSolar.com to learn more and make your voice heard.

Elizabeth Peace

Tax credits come too late to pay for childcare

As a mom who spent eight years with at least one of my children enrolled in daycare, I have learned a fair amount about how childcare impacts my family and community.

Some of my takeaways are:

  • Childcare is expensive.  As my friend said, “the day you finish paying for childcare, you get the biggest raise in your lifetime.” In total, it can cost more than college tuition.
  • Childcare is worth it. The educators who worked with my kids were amazing. They not only taught my daughters sight words and counting, but also how to share toys and help others. I went to work confident that my kids were receiving excellent care.
  • Childcare is underfunded. Childcare professionals teach our children during developmentally crucial years, yet the average early educator in West Virginia makes under $13/hr. The recent loss of federal funding and a chronic decline in state dollars means childcare providers are struggling to keep classrooms open, pay reasonable wages and make ends meet without charging families more than they can afford. As a result, families like mine will feel the shortage in an already scarce landscape.

Recently, our state leaders have highlighted the childcare crisis in terms of workforce and business growth. I suggest that we also focus on increasing access, affordability and quality for families. Policies should help both family childcare homes and larger centers alike and should encourage growth in rural counties where services are lacking.

While tax credits have been proposed by many politicians, we should be concerned that this back-end approach will not help those who cannot afford front-end costs. Instead, we should provide direct funding to shore up the industry and families, fix and expand subsidies for low-income families and offer incentives to help with staffing.

This a promising time to put childcare solutions into action. I hope our policymakers remember to move forward with wisdom and heed the voices of parents, providers and employers.

Rebekah Aranda

Remove the spousal exemption to sex abuse

It’s not something we think about every day, but unwanted sexual contact (also called sexual abuse) by a spouse, which is often violent, is not a criminal offense in West Virginia.

Sexually abusive behavior involving non-spouses or strangers is definitely a crime.

While spousal sexual abuse is a crime in the great majority of states, our law allows a spouse to escape prosecution for that sexual crime.

Why should a marriage license give a spouse a free pass from prosecution for non-consensual sexual abuse? It’s wrong, but that’s our law.

Injuries to a spouse from sexual abuse hurt just as much as injuries to a stranger.

Sexual abuse is a crime of violence and power. It is caused by the decision to control someone in the most personal way. It is not caused by sexual desire.

Our 2024 Legislature will have an opportunity to correct this on behalf of spouses, but only if they hear from us and appreciate that it is an important issue to correct.

More information about this is available at https://www.rdvic.org/sexual-violence.

How horrifying and shameful that this sexual crime will not be prosecuted in West Virginia if the victim just happens to be the abuser’s spouse.

Deb Miller

Finally, hope for progress on I-79 exit 155

At last, there is some progress on the improvement of exit 155/Chaplin Hill. It is great that Sens. Manchin and Capito have gotten involved and helped local officials to appropriate $54 million to finally improve a heavily traveled section of I-79. The residents of the area, as well as out of town commuters, deserve better than what they have dealt with for more than 10 years. This is the main access to Mylan Park, Mylan School and La Quinta hotel, as well as multiple other businesses, in addition to the main bus garage for this area.

The construction is said to begin in late 2024. I, as well as others, have complained about this neglect several times. I hope in the meantime there will be a temporary fix, with some patching and milling before late 2024. We were told a temporary fix would happen by May 31, 2023, but that didn’t happen. Solution: Avoid this area if possible. The Division of Highways is analogous to the U.S. Congress: it takes weeks, months, even years to do nothing.  

I am elated that there is progress, but when construction commences, I realize there will be bottlenecks for multiple years, which will be another headache for commuters, but that is the price for progress.

Another repulsive area close to exit 155 is Monongahela Boulevard near the WVU Coliseum, where there are parts of trees, leaves and dead deer along the side of the road — quite a scene for visitors to the coliseum for basketball games and other events. Fortunately, most events are after dark, which makes all of this less visible.

The deer carcass is below The Motel in Star City. Is the town of Star City or is DOH responsible for that mess?

Ron Lemley

‘Trump movement’ not about small government

I have three words for Cal Thomas’ column on Jan. 24: OH MY GOD! Cal tries to convince us that the “movement” he says Donald Trump leads has something to do with smaller and less intrusive government and term limits.

Anyone with their eyes half open can clearly see the only “movement” Donald Trump is leading is white nationalism and authoritarianism. I mean, it’s gotten so bad I’ve had to shrink my circle of friends in half in recent years.

But one thing I could agree with Cal on is term limits. I know there are pros and cons to term limits, but I’m all in on having that discussion. Ironically, the leader of the “movement” he speaks of is an authoritarian wannabe who couldn’t accept losing an election like a man, so he went as far as plotting a coup against the United States in an attempt to stay in power. 

So I’m not going to let Cal Thomas try to pull the wool over my eyes. Because the real movement lead by Trump is nothing but hate for minorities, LGBTQ and women. Prove me wrong!

Roy Wolfe Jr.