W.Va. legislators should keep SCORE-ing

An editorial from The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The news that the Legislature may abandon the SCORE initiative following the Republican takeover of both the House of Delegates and the state Senate is premature.

SCORE is the handiwork of Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and even though his tenure in that position is about to end, it shouldn’t necessarily mean the SCORE project ends with it. On Wednesday, Kessler emphasized that commitment by announcing that the second meeting of the task force will meet next in Fayette County.

SCORE — which stands for Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy — was marketed to southern West Virginians as a bipartisan effort to seek citizen input into how we can diversify our economy here in the southern coalfields.

The group held the first of four planned public meetings between now and January here in Beckley. For two hours, lawmakers heard the ideas of some 30 area residents who talked about improved tourism opportunities, local foods initiatives and the possibility of a medical marijuana industry, among other things. But the Republican takeover of the state Legislature for the first time in more than 80 years has thrown the SCORE project into limbo.

“While some have lost an election, I have not lost interest,” Kessler said.

SCORE’s agenda looks to us like it has a workable framework: Better investment in tourism marketing; educating and retraining the workforce; redevelopment projects; agri-business and rural development; expanding and improving broadband Internet service; intermodal transportation; development of coalbed methane; and research and development of clean coal. Republicans in the state Legislature will have the final say on SCORE. Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, the odds-on choice to be the Senate president to replace Kessler, indicated that salvaging the initiative isn’t much of a priority.

“I don’t think we need a committee to study the problems we know exist,” Cole said Tuesday.

Cole continued: “We are ready to work for not only southern West Virginia, but all of West Virginia.”

We certainly can’t argue with that…

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