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New Year Will Be Challenging

December 28, 2013
By MIKE MYER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Sometime next summer or early in the fall, President Barack Obama will announce another Obamacare reprieve for businesses. He'll do so under pressure from Democrat members of Congress up for reelection in November. They will be worried that if, as scheduled, businesses are told just before the election that they will have to comply with the Affordable Care Act, millions of voters suddenly will be told they no longer have health insurance provided through their companies.

Yes, it's that time again, for prognostications regarding the upcoming new year. Here are more:

- Early in 2014, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will order a spending cut by most state agencies. Education will be exempted, as was the case last time around. That will come after the bookkeepers have announced state revenue for December was below projections used to set the current budget.

- When West Virginia legislators go into their regular session for 2014 in January, one of the most controversial items on their agenda will be the proposal to require people who want pseudoephedrine drugs to obtain doctors' prescriptions for them, to fight methamphetamine producers who use the medicines as raw material. The plan will not be approved.

- Rep. Shelley Capito will be elected to the Senate, succeeding incumbent Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. Capito's current seat in the House, representing West Virginia's Second District, will go to Republican Charlotte Lane.

- In Ohio, one of the biggest controversies will be over controlling costs for the state's Medicaid program. There will be suggestions, perhaps by Gov. John Kasich, to require Medicaid recipients to take more personal responsibility for their health.

- That may come up here in West Virginia, too. It's even possible something like the Mountain Health Choices initiative proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin while he was governor will be revived.

- Again this year, thoughtful West Virginians will bemoan the dramatic shortage of money to repair highways and bridges and build new ones. No one will come up with a politically acceptable solution.

- At some point during the year, someone will address the elephant in the public education room in West Virginia. It is Tomblin's emphasis on ensuring children around third grade have adequate reading skills. The "elephant" is what to do with students who don't achieve that goal.

- Ohioans already have a plan for students who don't score up to state standards in reading. It may involve holding such children back in the third grade while they get intensive attention to bring reading skills up. That will anger parents of such children - but state officials will stick to the mandate.

- Mountain State public school teachers will insist they must have pay raises. They will not be forthcoming.

- That's because legislators are going to have one dickens of a time balancing the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. There may even be suggestions it's time to dip into the state's "rainy day" funds.

- There will be a political battle over the proposed ethane cracker plant in Wood County. I say "political" because the fight allegedly will be over environmental issues, but will boil down to how far government officials want to go to placate radicals on that score.

- Back to Washington: In late January, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth on Capitol Hill, when lawmakers are reminded they need to increase the government borrowing limit by no later than mid-February. Conservatives will insist on new spending limits in exchange for a higher debt ceiling. Obama will refuse, whereupon a few tea party loyalists will complain, then most Republicans will remember what happened during the "government shutdown" - and will cave in.

- Obamacare will continue to be a fiasco as more and more Americans learn the law is hazardous to their financial - and perhaps physical - health. No one will do anything about it, simply because rescinding the law isn't possible with Democrats in control of the Senate.

Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

 
 

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