INDUSTRIAL HEMP. If you’ve seen new crops that look like leafy vegetables in fields this summer, there’s a good chance it’s industrial hemp. Our region provides ideal topography for growing and hundreds of acres were planted this year. Growing industrial hemp is a risk/reward venture. If the crop runs “hot” (which means it has too much THC), it must be burned. That means the farmer loses all their investment. However, if it runs at normal levels, farmers stand to make a healthy profit selling their crop to processors for various medical and industrial uses.
Farmers tell me growing hemp is much like having an entire field of tomatoes — each plant requires great care. If we get this right, it can be a terrific new crop for our region that benefits and diversifies our economy. If you’re a farmer and need any political assistance, please get in touch. I’m doing my best to advocate for our farmers with the Department of Agriculture as they implement this new program.
PEIA. After several phone calls from state employees about problems with their health insurance, I wrote PEIA Director Ted Cheatham a letter detailing all the issues — higher prescription drug prices, higher co-pays, confusion over whether out-of-pocket maximums increased, concern over fewer doctors/hospitals taking PEIA coverage, and more. He and I will be meeting soon to discuss it in detail. Of course, this is also happening for everyone with private health insurance. I’m working on several bills to try and provide a state solution to a national problem.
VETERAN’S NURSING HOME. Over the summer, I met with Secretary Dennis Dixon of the Veteran’s Administration to discuss ways to move forward with my proposal to build a much-needed nursing home for veterans in southern West Virginia. We reached consensus very quickly on a new means to achieve that goal which should stand a higher chance of success. Fingers crossed and heads bowed in prayer!
FLOOD RECOVERY. As soon as next week, FEMA should begin issuing approvals/denials on all HMGP applications from the June 2016 flood. The state of West Virginia recommended all projects for approval and has funding to do so, but FEMA must also provide approval. Several families asked me if they should expect approval or denial. I have no idea. We should know soon though. I am hopeful they will take our recommendation seriously.
ROADS. Want to know when your road is scheduled for patching? Curious when your slip will be fixed? Visit www.transportation.wv.gov and click on the interactive map which shows every road in the state, including what work is scheduled on each one. And as always, please refer particular problems to me so that I can communicate them directly to the district office.
COUNTY COMMISSION VISITS. This fall, I’m visiting county commission meetings in all four counties I represent. The intent is to see what major issues communities face, what solutions they suggest, and how we can work together. The more we can work together at the municipal, county, and state level, the more efficient and effective our efforts will be.
That’s the view from the back pew. Tune into my social media accounts for information posted daily. Y’all take care!
Senator Stephen Baldwin is a local Presbyterian pastor. Reach him at 304-357-7959 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @BaldwinForWV.