West Virginia lawmakers take up bill on private fundraising for state pubcasting network

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Legislation authorizing the West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority to continue soliciting donations through its private nonprofit fundraising organizations is coming up for a floor vote in the House of Delegates today. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Morgan, responds to a report issued last summer by the state legislature’s auditors, who said the pubcasting network’s relationships with its sister nonprofits– the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting Inc. and the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Foundation Inc. — circumvent state spending regulations and travel rules. As introduced last month, H.B. 2695 authorizes West Virginia EBA employees to work with the Friends groups and make their broadcasting studios and facilities available to them for the purpose of fundraising. It also addresses governance problems that the EBA grappled with in recent years, including the governor’s role in appointing members of the EBA board and in selecting and setting compensation levels for its executive director. The House chamber just initiated today’s floor session [calendar here]; live audio of the debate is being streamed here.