After ten years away from the legislature, it was both strange and familiar to return. Many lobbyists and officials recognized me, greeted me and made me feel welcome. The offices consume at least as much space as before. Cass Gilbert’s genius is still palpable. I recognized some legislators, but not many. The 2014 election saw to that. There hasn’t been a change of this magnitude since 1932.
And the legislative processes are evolving. The new leadership promises transparency and efficiency. This year, the Legislative Rule Making Committee finished its work in December. Amazing. The first day saw the introduction of 233 bills just in the Senate. Headspinning. 17 of 25 members of the House Judiciary Committee are new this year. Egad.
I did something I never had done and attended the Issues and Eggs breakfast sponsored by the Charleston Area Alliance. It’s an excellent way to hear from the House Speaker and Senate President. They both appreciated the opportunity to speak to a friendly audience. It’s apparent that Speaker Armstead and President Cole have a plan and intend to implement it. In a nutshell, it’s all about jobs and growing the economy. Which means changing the tax structure, implementing the recent education audit, dealing with an antiquated funding system for infrastructure.and (here it comes) addressing the legal and regulatory climate. Which is allegedly horrible. I hadn’t noticed.
Senator Cole actually said that if an idea fosters job growth, it will be on their agenda. His mission is to keep our children and grandchildren in West Virginia. So of course the first bill they took up repeals the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. That’s a concept forward thinking states use to grow their economies and reduce energy usage. Apparently it’s not a concept they understand.
Let’s hope that some of their proposals actually do what the new leadership claims they want to do because in a state where half the adults aren’t working the future is bleak.
Let’s also work hard to ensure that our environment is not further damaged in the rush to grow jobs b and that we create a West Virginia that will entice our children and grandchildren to stay