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Lawmakers clash over energy bill job impact

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A discussion on a signature piece of legislation being advanced by Republicans featured disagreement Monday when the current and former president of the state Senate fell on different sides over whether the bill should require a jobs impact study.

Former Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, called for a study of Senate Bill 1, a piece of legislation that some have referred to as a cap-and-trade bill.

During a six minute speech, Kessler reminded President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, that the chamber passed a rules package that included the opportunity to generate a study at the president’s discretion.

“Sound public policy should be based on accurate information. The better information that we have, the better policy we can put out,” said Kessler, the Minority Leader. “As we are moving forward here, I know SB 1 is moving fairly quickly. Mr. President, I would suggest to you as the leader of the body that that may be a bill that is a prime opportunity for us to look at a job impact statement of that bill.”

Kessler noted he did not make the motion to be an obstructionist and he did, in fact, support Senate Bill 1.

“I think its important and I’m concerned Mr. President if we pass this bill that we look at the total job impact it may create. And I know the objective is to create more coal jobs. I’m all for that,” Kessler said.

Kessler wanted to know whether the legislation could negatively affect the creation of gas production jobs as well as gain a better understanding of the bill, which he said often has been characterized as a cap-and-trade bill.

“I don’t know if it is or it isn’t,” he said. “I’ve heard folks from the industry say it is not a cap-and-trade bill. What is it…

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