Government, News

Week 2 85th Legislature

By David Kelly, WV House of Delegates, District 6

Week two of the Legislative ses- sion is behind us. To date a total of 957 bills have been introduced in the House with three bills passing the full house. February 15 is the

last day for us to introduce bills in the House.
John Deskins spoke with lawmakers about keeping the state’s financial

situation in mind while we look ahead to finalizing the state’s budget for the next fiscal year.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw R-Clay said, “We always look forward to presentations from Dr. Deskins and utilizing his research and data in what we do here to help make West Virginia the easy choice. It was helpful to hear his message of caution to be wise with how we invest the deluge of federal dollars we have coming our way and be sure we’re choosing things with long-term impact and payoff. We have momentum on our side from the state’s biggest jobs announcements in history last week, and as we move through this legislative session, we must continue to look at the best ways we can allocate all our available resources.”

House Finance continues hearing budget presentations from our state agencies. The committee heard from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Policy. The committee was advised by Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor HEPC that the state’s higher education system will soon be using s more incentive based funding formula.

Chairman Householder said, “I could tell Chancellor Tucker worked hard to build consensus on that proposal. It’s not easy to make wholesalechanges and overhaul a system that has always treated each institution as equal, but rarely does one size fit all in West Virginia, and we think it makes good sense both financially and in terms of workforce readiness to choose to reward positive outcomes with more dollars.”

HB 4002 came out of Energy and Manufacturing this week. This bill would create the Certified Sites and development Readiness Program which would help West Virginia moving forward in attracting new businesses.

Lead Sponsor of the bill Clay riley said, “I’ve personally been involved in those interviews with site selection consultants, and I’ve heard them say they want to recommend West Virginia, but we’ve had too many unknowns or it’s not worth it to bring a client to a site without knowing there’s a realistic plan for infrastructure. This business used to be done by picking up the phone, but now much of it’s done online, just like most other businesses, and with site selection consultants doing 90% of their research, information gathering and filtering before they ever contact arepresentative from our state, we must be able to give them what they’re looking for and move at the speed of business if we want to have a shot atcompeting for major projects.”

According to Riley 37 states currently have site certification and/or site readiness programs. Three of our surrounding states are included in that number. The Department of Economic Development would administer the program.