2017-05-10 / Opinions

Speak up for priorities

They say that the key to a good relationship is clear communication. How can you expect your spouse or friends to know what’s important to you if you don’t say it? The same is true for government. Only sometimes we must state the case a little louder, and repeatedly. Now is certainly the time for speaking up.

Locally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is asking residents to share their concerns about the proposal to drive a mile-long natural gas distribution line under the Potomac River from Hancock to northern Morgan County. In particular, FERC wants comments related to environmental impacts or concerns about that 3.4-mile gas line from the Hancock area to the West Virginia shore of the Potomac. These comments are requested by May 25.

Those who have worries or plain old questions about the construction of the line and future environmental impacts should share their thoughts now, while the agency is considering whether the project can go ahead.

At the state level, West Virginia lawmakers are taking their budget battle into special session, trying to work out if they’ll solve a $500 million shortfall with tax hikes, fees, deep cuts or a total restructuring of the state’s tax system. Now is the time to tell local delegates and state senators what government services are vital to you and your family, what sorts of taxes are tolerable and which aren’t, and what’s a top priority for West Virginians going forward. They need some reminders.

Nationally, the House of Representatives has passed legislation that would significantly affect how the Affordable Care Act works for millions of Americans. This bill, promised as a repeal of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), would change how families and individuals get subsidies to pay private health insurance premiums for coverage. It would also remove taxes on certain medical devices, eliminating some of the funding that helps lower and middle-income people afford health insurance. Medicaid coverage will shrink under the bill. Most significantly, it would change the rules about what medical care and which people must be covered by health insurance companies.

West Virginia representatives McKinley, Mooney and Jenkins all voted in favor of this health care legislation. State residents affected by the changes contained in the bill have an opportunity to tell their representatives how they’ll feel the impact. U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito will be part of drafting a Senate version of these changes, so citizens have a chance to share their stories and concerns with Manchin and Capito now before a final law is written.

Government folks say they want to hear from those they serve. This is a time to give them what they’re asking for.

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