Manchin answers PikeView students' questions via Skype - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Manchin answers PikeView students' questions via Skype

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GARDNER (NEWS RELEASE):  PVHS students participated in a virtual town hall meeting today hosted by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.) who spoke to them live via Skype.

PikeView history teacher Christine Martin said the Senator's office extended the invitation to the school to participate.  "His aide called Assistant Principal [Mark] Godfrey's office.  I'm not sure how we got selected." 

In preparation, Martin and fellow social studies teacher Tanya Baldwin organized their students into small groups to formulate questions on topics ranging from coal policy to Syria and turnpike tolls to the new Affordable Health Care Act.

At 11:32 a.m., Senator Manchin, calling from Washington, logged onto Skype and joined  40 or so students seated in a tiered lecture room.  "How are we doing PikeView?"  Manchin asked.  "I'm really proud and interested to have this dialogue back and forth with you this morning."

For the next 30 minutes, Manchin entertained questions, beginning with Amber East's question about current EPA and government-backed regulations on coal.

"At least for the next 30 years," Manchin said, "coal will remain our nation's most abundant resource. We have to strike a balance between the economy and our environment.  We can mine it safely and we have become cleaner, but we can't hold it to the same standards as gas. So, don't make it so impossible to use and so expensive that we can't afford it." 

Nick Cokar followed up with a question about the burden of WV turnpike tolls on the southern counties.

"It is a toll road in the system," Manchin said, "and the WV Department of Highways simply can't fund it.  However, 75% of the revenue comes from people outside the state. Truckers pay for most of it.  And state residents who use it regularly can purchase the EZ Pass and claim it as a tax deduction."   According to Manchin, the cost of maintaining the turnpike exceeds $80 million a year.

Controversial questions from Todd Gray, Zach Alvis and others gave Manchin the opportunity to sound off on current issues.

On the Affordable Health Care Act:  "It is the law of the land, and it offers some real benefits especially for adults and children with pre-existing conditions.  Once we get into it, we will see what works and what doesn't work, then work to repair or reform it.  I usually take the bright side.  Look at the positives and try to fix what needs fixing."

On U.S. involvement in Syria:  "We shouldn't be in Syria.  We should provide support only.  It is a sectarian conflict.  If money or might could change an Arab nation, we would have changed Iran or Afghanistan by now. We should provide humanitarian aid and support the Arab League."

On background checks for gun purchases:  "In this country we have many rights but we also operate within parameters.  I am a gun owner.  I might sell my gun to a neighbor or friend I know, but I am not going to sell my gun to someone I don't know anything about.  Today guns are sold at stores, at gun shows, and on the Internet.   They don't know the people they are selling them to.  That's why we need background checks.  I want to know if this person buying a gun is the village idiot, mentally ill, or going to shoot someone with it." 

Senator Manchin closed the conversation with advice to his teenage audience:  " My concern is that you take ownership in this state, this country.  We are in trouble if you take no personal ownership.  A government has no value unless you put value in it.  It's like the difference between how you treat a rental car and a car you own."

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