Every day, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce works to make West Virginia a better place to do business by giving private-sector employers a voice in state politics and protecting business interests before regulatory bodies, the Legislature, and the courts.


Pacific free-trade pact still raising concerns

By Paul J. Nyden, The Charleston Gazette

Debates about the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial proposal that would oversee 40 percent of all U.S. foreign trade, have been going on for years. Those debates are coming back to Congress this week.

President Barack Obama has been pushing the proposed agreement. Supporters include politicians on both sides of the aisle, as do opponents. The trade is a central piece of Obama’s foreign policy in the Pacific region.

Like many trade agreement negotiations, details of the TPP negotiations have been largely secret. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, part of the Obama administration, says the agreement would “boost U.S. economic growth” and “support American jobs.”

Supporters of the deal want Congress to approve “fast-track” authority for the president as his administration negotiates the trade agreement. That would mean Congress could only vote yes or no on the final agreement, and could not change it.

Based on leaked details of the negotiations, observers believe stronger intellectual property and copyright laws would be part of the deal, which could benefit entertainment and software companies. Other businesses and manufacturing companies would also benefit, and strong support for TPP comes from many throughout the business community.

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 Groups React to Judicial Elections Bill

By Whitney Burdette, Capitol reporter

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s March 25 approval of House Bill 2010 marked the end of a long battle for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

With Tomblin’s signature, judicial elections in West Virginia will now be held on a nonpartisan basis, meaning candidates won’t run as members of Democratic, Republican or third parties. It’s something Chamber President Steve Roberts said his group has championed for nearly two decades.

“Our only regret is it took this long for the bill to pass,” Roberts said. “We have been strong advocates for a very long time of getting the partisanship out of our judiciary.”

Before House Bill 2010 passed through the Legislature and was signed into law, West Virginia was one of only seven states that elected its justices on a partisan basis. Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas remain the only states with partisan judicial elections, according to the American Bar Association.

However, all judges in Illinois and Pennsylvania run in uncontested retention elections for additional terms after winning their first terms through contested partisan elections. In Ohio and Michigan, political parties are involved in nominating candidates for Supreme Court races and those candidates frequently run with party endorsements.

Eight states grant life tenure or use some type of reappointment for their intermediate appellate courts. West Virginia doesn’t have such a court, which Roberts said is another reason removing political influence from judicial elections is important.

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SAVE THE DATE!  79th Annual Meeting and Business Summit: September 2-4, 2015

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2015 POLICY SOLUTIONS FOR WEST VIRGINIA - the Chamber is proud to present it's policy solutions for West Virginia. Click here to read them.