Capito talks with WV press about broadband, Respect for Marriage Act and more

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Dec. 2—MORGANTOWN — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is encouraging West Virginia residents to participate in improving West Virginia's broadband service by going online and checking the validity of the federal broadband maps.

Capito talked about that, her vote on the Respect for Marriage Act and a few other topics during a Thursday virtual meeting with members of the West Virginia press.

Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin have both been working for years to improve the federal maps, which Capito said Thursday contain "grave mistakes." It's believed 130, 000 West Virginia homes have been left off the maps.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, she said, provides money for extending access to unserved and underserved areas, but it can't be allocated properly for West Virginia with the current inaccurate map.

The FCC just recently released its draft broadband availability maps, she said, which are a result of her Broadband DATA Act, which was signed into law in 2020.

Residents can go to the map at /home, type in their address and see what it says about service in their area — and compare it to their reality.

"We need to know that so we can dispute the maps, " she said.

In a Manchin press release on the topic, he provided a link that offers a tutorial on how to challenge the map if it's inaccurate: /BroadbandData /consumers.

Manchin said the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will allocate funding to each state based on its proportion of unserved areas based on the new maps.

The FCC has encouraged all interested parties, including states, communities and West Virginians, to submit challenges by Jan. 13, 2023, he said. NTIA pledged that it will release the state allocations of the broadband funding from the IIJA by June 30, 2023 "so it is critical for all West Virginians to participate in this process to ensure the maps are right and West Virginia receives its fair share of broadband funding."

Respect for Marriage Act On Tuesday, the Senate approved the House's Respect for Marriage Act and Capito was one of 19 Republicans to support it.

Before the vote, she explained her position regarding the bill and the stronger religious protections included in a GOP amendment. Capito said the recent Dobbs decision that stuck down Roe v Wade made it clear that the federal judiciary should not be a policy-making entity — a position she agrees with.

She supported the GOP amendment strengthening the House bill because "no religious entity should be persecuted by any individual, organization, or government institution for the beliefs they hold. As such, this piece of legislation ensures all religious liberty and conscience protections provided to religious organizations under the Constitution and existing federal law.

She said Thursday that she's received negative feedback for her vote, but defended her action.

"I felt like the religious protections that were built into this bill were very strong, " she said. "At the base of it, quite honestly, I believe that there are a lot of relationships that have developed and marriages that have developed since 2015 [when the Supreme Court said same-sex civil partners may receive federal benefits ] that have families, that have a great deal of love in their homes. I'm for more love and I'm for respecting other people's lifestyles, and I think that's what my vote reflected."

Grubb Legacy Act and more On Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services announced its rule that will implement Manchin's and Capito's Protecting Jessica Grubb's Legacy Act.

The act aims to save lives by ensuring that medical providers do not accidentally give opioids to individuals in recovery by requiring that a patient's history of opioid addiction is prominently displayed in the patient's medical records if the patient, parent, guardian or spouse consents to the inclusion of that information.

It stems from the tragic case of Jessie Grubb, of Charleston, who battled heroin addiction for seven years. Back in 2016 she had completed her fourth stay in rehab in Michigan and was making a new life for herself there, training for a marathon. In early March 2016, she had surgery for a running-related injury.

Her parents—David Grubb, a Charleston attorney, and Kate Grubb—joined her there and alerted hospital personnel that she was a recovering addict. But the discharging doctor, who didn't know her and hadn't treated her, prescribed 50 oxycodone pills for post-surgical pain. She died March 2, the day after her release. She had apparently taken eight of the oxycodone pills.

Commenting on the the bill — first introduced in 2016 — finally becoming reality through the HHS rule, Capito said Thursday, "This is just one small way, but I think could be an effective way, to maybe change some lives."

Manchin said Tuesday in a joint release, "Today's announcement is another important step in securing Jessica Grubb's legacy and will help save countless lives in our fight against the drug epidemic that has ravaged our state."

On Nov. 16, Capito was named vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, one of five Senate GOP leadership positions.

She said Thursday, "I'm very happy to be a leader in our conference, talking about economic growth and issues that are important to us as Republicans but also for the country."

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