Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on newly elected attorney general Patrick Morrisey:
When relative newcomer Patrick Morrisey ran for the Republican nomination for state attorney general, the first question in Republican circles was "Patrick who?"
The second question was "What would he do with the office?"
In the end, voters took a chance on the unknown, electing Morrisey over longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw, whom they had come to know very well.
Morrisey's appointments, as he prepares to take office, are reassuring. He has surrounded himself with highly capable, highly regarded people.
— Dan Greear will be chief counsel. A former delegate, Greear challenged McGraw in 2008 and lost by only about 3,000 votes.
— Elbert Lin will be solicitor general. A graduate of Yale, Lin is a former trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
— Marty Wright will be public integrity officer and a deputy attorney general. Wright is currently deputy general counsel of the state Ethics Commission.
— Richie Heath and Tracy Webb also will be deputy attorneys general.
Heath is currently executive director of West Virginia Citizens for Lawsuit Abuse, which supported Morrisey's campaign.
Webb has been a clerk for the state Workers Compensation Appeal Board and an attorney for the West Virginia Housing Development Fund.
— Chris Doddrill, Jennifer Greenlief and Shane Wilson will be assistant attorneys general.
Doddrill is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Duke University school of law and is an at-large member of Charleston City Council.
Wilson, who directed Morrisey's campaign in the southern part of the state, is a graduate of WVU law school and has worked for former Secretary of State Betty Ireland and Congressman David McKinley.
Greenlief, now with the firm Spilman, Thomas and Battle, clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Johnston.
Some members of McGraw's staff are highly experienced and highly regarded and should probably be retained. Whether they will be asked to stay and would be willing to do so is unknown at this point.
But Morrisey's choices are solid. West Virginians elected him to promote and defend their interests.
It's an encouraging beginning.
The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., on school-based dental sealant programs:
During the past 20 years, dental sealants have played an important role in reducing tooth decay among children and teens.
But a new survey shows that many states have been slow to adopt the school-based sealant programs that have great potential to improve the public's oral health and save taxpayers a lot of money.
For those not familiar with the process, dentists have found that applying a thin plastic coating to the chewing surface of certain teeth can reduce decay by about 60 percent. Typically, the sealants are applied to a child's molars, which are more susceptible to cavities, once their permanent teeth have come in. They can be effective for five years or more, and the most recent national survey shows that about half of teens aged 13-15 have received sealants on a permanent tooth.
But not surprisingly, children from lower-income households are much less likely to have sealants — or other types of preventative dental care, for that matter. Unfortunately, treating the dental problems that likely come later often falls to publicly supported health-care programs.
Advocates argue it makes more sense to have sealant programs in schools, especially those schools with a high-risk population. While there are costs involved, studies show the sealants are much cheaper than fillings and other dental procedures.
"Children's health isn't the only thing that suffers when states don't invest in sealant programs," said Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign, which recently studied the issue. "States that miss this opportunity to prevent decay are saddling taxpayers with higher costs down the road through Medicaid or other programs."
West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky all have at least some sealant programs in schools. According to the Pew survey, Ohio's has the most, reaching more than half of the "high-needs" schools. West Virginia's programs reach less than half of its high-needs schools and Kentucky less than a fourth.
One obstacle to expanding these programs is the requirement that a dentist examine a child before a dental hygienist applies the sealants. That makes the process more costly, and the researchers argue that step is unnecessary. According to the survey, that is less of a problem in West Virginia, but a significant issue in Kentucky.
Especially in our region, with its history of poor oral health, it makes sense to expand these programs and help improve children's health and limit future health-care costs.
The Journal, Martinsburg, W.Va., on Sen. Rockefeller's decision not to run in 2014:
It is unfortunate that Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., does not really represent most of his constituents here in the Mountain State. He has become a classic example of a so-called "progressive" who refuses to truly move forward with the people who sent him to Washington.
Rockefeller's decision not to run for re-election in 2014 came as no real surprise, then. Despite his enormous personal wealth, his long string of election successes and his leadership in a party that still dominates state politics, Rockefeller probably would have lost the 2014 election to Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., who has announced her candidacy for a Senate seat.
For decades, the Rockefeller brand of liberalism played well in our state. During his two terms as governor, his free-spending philosophy kept him popular at the polls, paving the way for his election to the Senate, where he has served since 1985. He was especially careful not to alienate special interests such as the state's big teachers' unions.
All the while, under Rockefeller and several of his predecessors, what amounted to a gigantic state debt was building up. It was left to a successor, Gov. Gaston Caperton, and legislators during his tenure (1989-97) to begin the process of paying down billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.
More and more during the past 20 years or so, West Virginians have come to realize that ultra-liberal politicians are leading us down a path to ruin.
Yet Rockefeller never changed. During recent years he has refused to battle President Barack Obama on coal and supported initiatives such the federal health care overhaul.
Most West Virginians — including many who consider themselves staunch Democrats — have matured politically. The state's other U.S. senator, Joe Manchin, represents their views on fiscal discipline and personal freedom much better than has Rockefeller.
When they go to the polls in November 2014, then, Mountain State voters will not be looking for a Rockefeller clone to succeed him. They will want — and vote for — exactly the opposite: someone who actually will represent us in the U.S. Senate.