Senators Manchin, Capito Hold Meeting at ATK

KEYSER – Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito were in Mineral County Monday; first taking part in a ribbon cutting for a new building at Orbital ATK and then conducting a “town meeting” with the employees.

The ribbon cutting was not open to the media, as it involved a building located in a high-security area of the ATK property. It was mentioned several times during the meeting that followed, however, that the addition to the plant could eventually result in 250 jobs being added.

During the meeting, the senators fielded several questions which touched on topics such as gun control laws, the need for better infrastructure and the opioid epidemic.

When asked by the audience if he anticipated any stricter gun control legislation to be passed, Manchin told the crowd, “Not at all, and the reason is, we can’t even get common sense laws passed.”

Manchin, a Democrat, told the crowd about the legislation he had previously co-authored to strengthen regulations for applying for a weapon, and it was not passed.

He said part of the problem is the two cultures - gun owners and anti-gun advocates - don’t understand each other.

“Accept me as a law-abiding citizen. Just because I own a gun doesn’t mean I’m going to do something wrong,” he said.

He suggested the proper legislation would “close the loopholes” that have allowed situations like the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida in June, which was perpetrated by a known ISIS sympathizer who was allowed to purchase a gun.

Capito, a Republican, said that type of situation is “one of the needles we need to thread.

“If you can’t fly on an airplane (because you’re on the “no fly” list), should you be able to buy a weapon? No,” she said.

Both senators talked about the need to beef up spending on the nation’s infrastructure - highways, water and sewer, and high-speed internet.

“Our roads and bridges are deteriorating, and I’m very concerned with the lack of high-speed internet,” Capito said, noting that business and industry is dependent upon all in order to operate in West Virginia.

Bringing up the topic of tax reform, she suggested creating an environment where, instead of locating outside of the United States, businesses would “rather invest in the United States.”

“And when I talk about infrastructure, I talk about jobs,” she said.

Manchin agreed that, throughout history, when the United States has faced economic downturns, it was often a push toward rebuilding infrastructure that brought the nation out of the slump.

Much to the agreement of those in the audience, he said the country needs to cut down on those able to work who choose instead to receive government assistance.

Talking about the Great Depression, he said, “If you wanted to eat in the ‘30s, you had to work. Somehow that’s evolved into the attitude that you don’t have to do anything.

“How do we get back to ‘you’ve got to work’?” he asked.

The two senators also spoke about the escalating drug abuse epidemic and both have been very active in working on legislation to help battle the disease.

“There’s not one of you in this room who doesn’t know somebody that’s been affected by drugs,” Manchin said, adding that part of the problem is that “we have no treatment centers.”

If a judge sentences someone to treatment and there is no place to go, he said they wind up in jail and getting no help.

He suggesting earmarking one penny from every milligram of opiates produced in America for the establishment of treatment centers.

Both senators also noted that physicians need to prescribe only the amount needed for acute pain - enough for two or three days and not a 30- or 90-day supply.

“If you had a tooth pulled, and you’re still having pain in two or three days, maybe they pulled the wrong tooth,” he said.

“Something’s wrong.”

By:  Liz Beavers
Source: Mineral Daily News-Tribune