WHEELING - Someone has to speak for the about 650,000 residents living in northern West Virginia, and U.S. Rep. David McKinley says while he is that voice, he and other members of Congress are not special people.
McKinley, R-Wheeling, spoke Wednesday to students in the advanced placement U.S. government and politics class at Wheeling Park High School. McKinley was quizzed on a variety of topics, including his thoughts on political satire. McKinley said he enjoys it - for the most part.
"Sometimes it gets ripe, and I think they get overly harsh," McKinley said. "I think it's fun. You just have to roll with it. As I've said before, we're not special people. I'm a simple engineer. I'm just like your folks - but I've got a different job."
On the topic of global warming, McKinley said the first step is recognizing it does exist.
"It is occurring .... I can see statistics, and I know that 50 years ago the world was cooler than it is today," he said. "I know the oceans have risen anywhere from six-to-eight inches over the last 150 years. But what's the role of man? How much has man contributed to this? We have to be careful that we don't over-respond to something, and crush our economy."
McKinley told students if all coal-burning plants were eliminated in America, the end result would be just a 0.2 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. McKinley suggested the nations of the world would have to work together to reduce carbon emissions.
McKinley was also asked about minimum wage, which he said needed to go up - but in a cautious way. The West Virginia Legislature passed a measure this year raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour beginning Jan. 1, then again to $8.75 in 2016.
"It needs to go up, but at what level?" he said. "Is it $10.10 (an hour)? Or $8.25? It needs to be adjusted periodically, but we have to be careful to how high we raise it. (The rate of) $10.10 doesn't mean much in New York City, but it can mean a lot in Beckley or Cameron."
McKinley said he thinks raising the minimum age to $10.10 an hour might cost jobs among America's youth.