CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Two Jefferson County Democrats — state Sen. Herb Snyder and Del. Stephen Skinner — said last week that middle-class West Virginians took a back seat to big-business interests in the recently completed West Virginia Legislature session.
"It was a special-interest election in 2014 paid for by big business and corporations who invested in it," Skinner said.
Republicans took back the Legislature in November for the first time in more than 80 years, giving them a 64-36 majority in the House and an 18-16 majority in the Senate.
"The coal industry got everything it wanted on its wish list," Snyder said.
"One bill had it all, a big handout," Skinner said. "Not only did the coal companies get tax breaks, some mine-safety regulations were rolled back, and they deregulated the rules against dumping aluminum in rivers."
Snyder said another bill that puts big corporations above average citizens deals with limiting to $250,000 the punitive damages that juries can allow in lawsuits against owners of nursing homes, many of which are large out-of-state corporations.
He cited a Huntington, W.Va., lawsuit against a nursing home, for which a jury set punitive damages of more than $90 million in a case involving the death of an elderly woman from neglect.