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OPINION: Justice says better communication needed at state level

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel editorial

When Mountain State lawmakers spoke before members of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, they set out an agenda that should serve them well in 2018 legislative session … if they stick to it.

Among the priorities will be continuing to downsize and streamline government — absolutely necessary if West Virginia is going to progress. There is no excuse for lawmakers allowing our bloated bureaucracy to weigh us down any longer.

Lawmakers hope to advance legal and tax reform that makes our state more attractive to new businesses, but also less of an obstacle to success for the businesses already here. Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they intend to do away with business inventory taxes. Imagine the relief for business owners if that should come to pass.

There are other items on the agenda, of course: putting together model legislation out of the Joint Committee on Oil and Gas Regulation before the regular session begins, addressing the uncertainty about what the federal government will do with Medicaid funding, discussion of privatization, and considering whether to encourage consolidation and regionalization of county and local governments.

But another standout point came from Gov. Jim Justice’s new Chief of Staff Mike Hall. He hopes to improve communication between the governor and lawmakers.

“We just don’t want to get in a train wreck this year in March or April,” he said.

He could not have chosen better words for the mess created by Justice’s desire last session for spectacle over substance, and his willingness to sacrifice true political discussion in favor of a platter of bull you-know-what. But perhaps Hall’s words signal a change in the governor’s approach to working with the Legislature. Let us hope so.

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