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Brian Dayton: West Virginia Chamber highlights 2021 legislative success (Clarksburg Exponent Telegram)


Knowing how your elected representatives vote is a key to a successful democracy. We elect individuals to represent us at multiple levels of government and entrust them to closely study the issues and make informed decisions.

At the conclusion of each year’s legislative session, a working group of West Virginia Chamber members sits down and evaluates the various pieces of legislation that have an impact on job creation, economic development, education outcomes, and the ability to move our state forward.

The relative importance of these individual issues is also taken into consideration. The result is the annual scorecard that is available by visiting the West Virginia Chamber’s website.

A quick visit to this year’s scorecard will quickly reveal one important detail: the 2021 legislative session was one of the most meaningful and productive in recent memory. Legislators successfully tackled a wide variety of issues that will help to bring about positive change in the Mountain State.

Policies aimed at attracting remote workers and young families to the state received significant attention this year. HB 2002, a comprehensive broadband bill, was passed with strong bipartisan support and aims to make it easier to continue expanding high-speed internet throughout the state. That bill was also supported by a broadband loans insurance program to provide banks some additional security when financing internet service providers’ work to expand internet service to unserved and underserved areas.

West Virginia is also taking a lead in fostering jobs in the gig economy, with the Legislature passing the Employment Law Worker Classification Act. This important law will help enable individuals to undertake jobs as independent contractors (think Uber) with more flexibility, as opposed to the traditional employee-employer relationship.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began over a year ago, one of the most threatened sectors of our economy was the restaurant business. These establishments provide character to our communities, provide employment for thousands of workers in the state, and offer entertainment and food for our citizens and visitors.

Takeout and curbside delivery helped many stay afloat, but the governor’s executive order allowing for “to-go” alcohol sales was essential. Recognizing this, the West Virginia Legislature passed the most significant alcohol reform law in the state’s history (HB 2025), which codifies many of the changes made by executive order during the state lockdown.

Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, employers across West Virginia and the nation recognized another major problem on the horizon: a slew of lawsuits related to the virus that risked putting them out of business.

Legislators in our state, led by Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump and House Judiciary Chair Moore Capito, recognized this and led the bipartisan passage of what is arguably the most comprehensive COVID liability reform shield in the nation. This law, which is now in effect, gives small businesses and employers the comfort that if they operate responsibly and safely, they will be protected from unnecessary lawsuits.

Legislators also worked to restructure our judiciary in a way that should help expedite access to our court system by creating an intermediate appellate court. This level of judiciary was recommended for West Virginia by a commission chaired by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has already begun working on setting this court up, with Chief Justice Evan Jenkins working tirelessly to ensure the new court will be serving the citizens of West Virginia the best that it can.

Lastly, the voters of this state have an important decision to make in November 2022. HJR 3 was adopted by the Legislature with strong bipartisan support and puts a constitutional amendment on next November’s ballot.

If approved by the voters, the West Virginia Legislature will finally be given control over many types of tangible personal property taxation in West Virginia. This is a critical step to addressing one of our state’s major outliers when it comes to attracting high-paying manufacturing jobs to our borders. This amendment has been in discussion for decades, and it was finally adopted in 2021.

The West Virginia Chamber’s 2021 Legislative Scorecard is based on votes cast on these – and many other – important issues. Eighty-nine of the 134 members of the Legislature scored above an 80% on this year’s scorecard, marking the best performance of a Legislature in the past decade.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, Senate President Craig Blair, and their leadership teams deserve immense credit for pursuing policies that will truly make a difference in West Virginia.

Visit to view this year’s full scorecard.

Brian Dayton is a native of Moundsville, WV and is the vice president of Policy & Advocacy with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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