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CHILD abuse is a serious issue, but a legislative audit found it is "common knowledge that the state's Child Protective Services has not been able to investigate child abuse allegations in a timely manner" as required by law.

Lawmakers should crack the whip. Such delays are unacceptable.

While legislators are at it, they should also fix the law. Delegate Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming, and other members of the Women's Caucus are pushing to have certain violations of the law downgraded to misdemeanors.

Not all reports of child neglect are the same, even though conviction is a felony. A parent who is distracted by household chores is different from a parent who is passed out drunk and leaves a young child to fend for himself for hours on end.

By adding a misdemeanor category, lawmakers would make the law more just.

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TOUGHER restrictions on burning coal are

taking a toll on the economy, according to Mike Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

"According to National Economic Research Associates, seven of EPA's regulations for power plants would cost the electricity sector roughly $200 billion in compliance costs and destroy at least 544,000 jobs annually," Duncan wrote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this month.

The problem is the EPA does not have to consider the harm its rules does to the economy. This administration brushes aside industry considerations.

But while the new regulations are aimed at reducing coal emissions, the opposite may happen.

"Even if the U.S. does not continue using coal,

other countries will," Duncan wrote. "In 2011, the world used more than 8.5 billion tons of coal, with only 1 billion tons of that being used here in the United States."

Not only will those countries enjoy a competitive advantage due to lower energy costs, they will not burn the coal as cleanly as the United States does.

This is a lose-lose situation for the good people in our area who make a living from West Virginia's abundant coal supplies.

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EASTERN Kanawha County soon will get two new ambulances to be marked with a logo that separates them from the rest of the county's 37 ambulances.

The logo features a coal miner superimposed on the map of West Virginia with Kanawha County highlighted.

"Purchased with coal severance taxes" will appear beneath the logo.

The Legislature passed this tax in part to fund projects in mining communities. This logo is a

reminder of where the money came from.

The logo also should keep some politician from slapping his name on the vehicle.

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HOUSE Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, told MetroNews he stands behind

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's inquiry into the safety of the state's two abortion clinics.

"As long as abortions are required by law to be

legal, there needs to be oversight to insure the procedure doesn't harm the woman," Armstead said.

West Virginia is one of nine states that has no restriction on how late in a pregnancy a woman can abort her baby. It has two clinics, both in Charleston.

Surely, Morrisey will seek a way to assure safety without adding another volume of rules and regulations to the state code.

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OFFICIALS often try to convince out-of-state and international business organizations to

invest in the Mountain State.

But there is one international business that, fortunately, doesn't have much of a presence here. The national Drug Intelligence Center identified more than 1,000 U.S. cities where Mexican druglords have a presence.

West Virginia was one of four states with no presence. Vermont and the Dakotas were the others.

The state cannot even get Mexican drug cartels to move here. Whew!


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