By VICTORIA L. CANN
The Exponent Telegram
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — With the state Legislature in session, local lawmakers are looking forward to tackling some issues over the next few months.
Developing opportunities for new jobs is on the forefront of area lawmakers’ minds.
House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said he’s focusing his attention on passing legislation that creates an environment to do just that.
Miley used North Central West Virginia Airport as an example, saying there are jobs available, but not enough qualified people locally to fill them.
“We want to make sure we provide education and training not just to our students, but transitional education for those who have lost jobs to be retrained for other jobs in our communities,” he said. “One of the things I want to see happen is to create a scholarship similar to the PROMISE, but for technical and community colleges, as well as trade schools.”
It’s important to focus on those students, as well, because they are more likely to stay in the area to work after training, Miley said.
“I think we need to enhance the entrepreneurial education in our school system. We need to be inspiring and developing those in our state at a young age,” he said. “I believe that’s where most of the economic growth will occur, with people who live here, grow up here and start and grow businesses here.”
Del. Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison, said he looks forward to continuing efforts to foster job growth and improving the state’s economy during this session.
“Obviously the biggest issue weighing on all our minds is the state budget, but we can’t limit ourselves to that single topic,” he said.
“As chairman of the Government Organization Subcommittee on anti-competitive rules and regulation,” Hamrick said, “I look forward to delving into the rules and regulations that govern our boards of occupational licensure.”
Hamrick wants to make sure anything that is excessively hindering citizens is identified and then addressed. He said the Legislature will also be taking up a bill to fix the state’s automobile fleet tracking problem.
State Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, said his top priority is the state budget. He said state leaders “kicked the can down the road” the last two sessions.
“It’s a culmination of $400 million. If we kick the can down the road this session, the deficit could be around $800 million, and that’s insurmountable,” he said. “That’s my primary focus of this session until we resolve that issue and put the state back on stable financial footing.”
Romano said that he, along with state Sen. Douglas Facemire, D-Harrison, will be moving forward with legislation to continue to create jobs, especially in North Central West Virginia.
“We have introduced a bill to help return some lost contacts to our tenants up there because we were noncompetitive on some important tax issues,” he said. “Our next highest concern is going to be our volunteer firemen. Without them, homeowner’s insurance goes up three times, if not more, and that can hurt a lot of our working West Virginians and seniors.”
Romano said it’s important to make sure there is enough money to operate those departments with increased workers’ compensation and training.
“One of the issues is the Legislature is considering the elimination of the RESAs. Not only is it for the schools, but they provide access to inexpensive training to those volunteer fire departments,” he said.
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