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Legislative Lookahead: Leadership offers lookahead to West Virginia press corps

By Eric Douglas, WV Public Broadcasting

Charleston, W.Va. — Leadership from both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature met Friday with the state press corps at the West Virginia Press Association’s annual Legislative Lookahead.

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, often speaks about reversing the state’s population loss and he indicated gainful employment is the best way to make people want to move to West Virginia — or stay here. He discussed the number of economic development announcements in the past year and wants to see more.

Blair also discussed problems at PEIA and making sure it is funded so more hospitals like WVU Medicine – Wheeling Hospital don’t refuse to accept the insurance plan. He also reiterated his plan to introduce legislation to split the Department of Health and Human Resources into three agencies so it is easier to manage.

“We’re going to get DHHR right,” he said. “We have that obligation.”

In the 2022 legislative session House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, introduced legislation to have more assistant teachers in K through 3rd grade classrooms. The bill didn’t pass, but he plans to introduce it at the beginning of this session. He said they introduced it too late in the session last year but has more information this year.

House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, said he felt the legislature should invest the state’s budget surpluses, estimated to hit $1.6 billion for this year alone, for the future of the state. He checked off a number of topics like PEIA, mental health and public education that all need more investments.

Skaff also noted that he wanted to see foster care legislation passed and for the state to “stop kicking that can down the road.” …

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