Legislative Issues for 2018

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is the Voice of Business in West Virginia. Chamber members can be found in all fifty-five counties, and employ over half of West Virginia's workforce. Through constant engagement with our members, the Chamber's committees, working groups, and staff have identified key legislative issues for the 2018 Session of the West Virginia Legislature. These legislative issues are immediate steps that can be taken to continue making West Virginia irresistible to business.

 

Our children are the talent pipeline for our future, and employers support the very best opportunities for educating our students. Universally, students' success comes when:

  • Students are taught by highly competent teachers,
  • Adequate classroom time is provided for learning,
  • Each child has a caring, engaged adult,
  • and standards and expectations are set to encourage the best possible student performance.

The West Virginia Chamber supports those measures that will attract and keep the very best teachers, and maximize student success. To begin reforms to attain these goals, West Virginia Chamber members encourage the West Virginia Legislature to pass legislation that will:

  • Expand access to community college & technical education for more West Virginia students (SB 284).
  • Allow school calendar flexibility that recognizes various needs around the state.
  • Provide for online & distance learning to give students the opportunity to expand their horizons.
  • Permit cross-county border attendance so that school children can attend the nearest school - not be limited by arbitrary boundaries.
  • Allow West Virginia to join 44 other states and authorize public charter schools (SB 304).


West Virginia has long been known as an energy-producing state. Recent developments in the natural gas industry are providing our state with numerous economic opportunities. West Virginia must foster this industry and the economic growth it is creating. The West Virginia Legislature should pass co-tenancy legislation to ensure that the majority ownership of a piece of property can make decisions without being hindered by a fractional interest. The Legislature should also adopt clear guidelines for natural gas industry drilling platforms so that energy producers have predictability and clarity in the law.


 

West Virginia is blessed with abundant beauty. State regulations should be drafted in a manner that both protects the environment while fostering job creation and economic development. West Virginia should implement at the state level Harmonic Mean Flow standards that have been adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the standards for water quality. Our Legislature should also seek to bring West Virginia into conformity on regulations governing storm-water runoff from industrial sites. Implementation of the 2016 Regulatory Reform Act should remain a priority to ensure that state regulations are no more stringent than their federal counterparts.


West Virginia has made significant progress in adopting human resources and labor laws and regulations that reflect best practices in other states. The West Virginia Legislature should continue that momentum by:

  • enacting Paycheck Protection for state workers.
  • Prohibiting mass picketing to clarify that employers have the right to engage in commerce and cannot be forcibly closed by mass demonstrations.
  • passing a Property Protection Act that will protect employers' property, both physical and intellectual, from being removed without permission.



 

With the recent reforms made by the West Virginia Legislature, our state has much to offer businesses and companies seeking to relocate to West Virginia. The Legislature should increase funding to the West Virginia Development Office to aid in spreading our positive message. We must also continue seeking to be competitive with other states' taxes. This includes a constitutional amendment to repeal Personal Property Tax on Business Inventory and an expansion of the Economic Opportunity Tax Credit.


We must respond responsibly to the addiction crisis that is crippling our state and impeding our workforce. This situation requires a comprehensive plan that addresses the current challenges and recognizes education and support for youth are critical. Business is eager to support those measures that will help our fellow West Virginians who are trapped in addiction.


 

West Virginia is blessed with abundant natural beauty and countless tourist destinations. Recent studies have indicated West Virginia sees an average return of $7 for every $1 spent on tourism marketing. The West Virginia Legislature should ensure that increased funding for the West Virginia Department of Tourism is included in the budget.


 

Good government is at the core of facilitating successful economic growth. Unfortunately, West Virginia is one of only ten states that utilizes multi-member legislative districts. Additionally, West Virginia is only one of two states that has multi-member districts in excess of three. The Legislature should address this by requiring that the House of Delegates be divided into 100 single-member districts (HB 4002) following the 2020 Census.

The Legislature should also exercise its constitutional responsibilities by requiring that any settlement funds obtained by the Office of the Attorney General be placed in the General Revenue Fund for allocation by the Legislature (HB 4009).