CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On this week’s Inside West Virginia Politics, host Mark Curtis discusses a variety of topics including the closure of the Mitchell Power Plant, President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, and Governor Jim Justice’s new sweepstakes to incentivize West Virginians to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
‘Will rates go up? Of course they will’: The impact of Mitchell Power Plant closure
In Segment 1, U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) from West Virginia’s 1st District visited Charleston to testify before the Public Service Commission regarding the potential closure of the Mitchell Power Plant in Marshall County. At this time, there are two options: shut down in 2028 or shut down in 2040.
McKinley says things to be considered before closures are its economic effects for that area and National security.
“Is the issue of what effect is that going to have, the closure of the Mitchell power plant,” said McKinley. “We don’t have a replication of what happened down in Texas when they lost power for weeks on end.”
According to McKinley, the market that controls electricity on the east coast is called PJM. PJM only has about 10% of its power grid in renewable energy. West Virginia is in the process of making a transition over to renewable energies. “We want to make sure that during this transition period of time, plants like Mitchell will still stay operational,” said McKinley.
The critics of the plant remaining open say this is going to be paid for by the ratepayers. “Will rates go up? Of course they will,” says McKinley. “It pales in comparison to people’s lost income, their lost jobs. The uncertainty of their future if plants close down. We’re talking about, at a power plant, maybe it’s only 200 jobs. It’s the railroad workers, the dock workers. They only have an impact on how we’re going to operate that, I think it pales in comparison to a miner rate increase to what we’re talking about, people’s lives.”
‘Stay to the issues’: Rep. McKinley on President Biden’s infrastructure bill
In Segment 2, U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R) from West Virginia’s 1st District discusses various topics, including Reta May’s life sentencing, President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, corridor H, and West Virginia losing its congressional seat.
McKinley is one of two professional engineers in the entire congress. He says he’s behind what U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is trying to do as the Republican representative. He’s behind what Biden’s trying to do with this bill. “We need to address the infrastructure, sewer, water lines, roads and bridges. But also broadband. And that’s where Shelley comes in,” said McKinley. “[Shelley] would stick to those matters, the basics and the core of what makes up infrastructure. It would pass bipartisan overwhelmingly.”
However, McKinley disagrees with Biden’s social issues being in the infrastructure bill. “They’re good issues. I know they’re important for society. But don’t lump them in with an infrastructure bill,” said McKinley. “When you add the other things into it, it causes a delay. That’s where we have to get this thing. Tactic. Stay to the issues that need to be done.”
Is incentivizing people to get the COVID-19 vaccine a good idea?
In segment 3, Del. Mike Pushkin (D) of Kanawha County discusses Governor Jim Justice’s vaccine sweepstakes, which includes chances to win million-dollar drawings, a couple of pickup trucks, rifles and shotguns, and hunting and fishing licenses to incentive West Virginians to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m all for incentivizing for people to get the vaccine,” said Pushkin. “I want to see people at the ballpark. I want to see people at live music events. And we’re not going to get there until we reach herd immunity. We’re not able to reach herd immunity until more and more people get the vaccine.”
Pushkin also says he disagrees with the governor ending the $300 weekly supplement to people on unemployment. “I don’t think it’s going to have the desired effect,” said Pushkin. “I realize that in certain segments of the economy, there’s a labor shortage. I’m not sure if that’s really what’s causing the labor shortage. If you look at the numbers, the unemployment rate has steadily gone on in the past five months. A lot of folks have found other ways to make money, even when they’re back to work…I’m all for incentivizing people to work. I’m not sure if this is the way to get there.”
Should child care issues stay in Biden‘s infrastructure bill?
In Segment 4, Del. Kayla Young (D) Kanawha County discusses the child care issue attached to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. He wants funding in there for child care and home health care. She says she’s for that because it’s the thing working families need. “In the American Family’s Plan, we have money for working parents. Because… child care is expensive,” said Young.
According to Young, child care is up to 35% of a person’s wages. During the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers got free child care and are still getting free child care. “Give essential workers free child care. We’ve seen workers in other states move here to take advantage of that. I don’t know why putting child care first isn’t something we’re doing to try to get people to be here,” said Young.