WVPA Sharing

WVPA Sharing: Message from Jeff Kessler, president of the West Virginia Senate

As the 2014 legislative session enters its third full week, I am pleased to report that Senate Bill 373 unanimously passed both the Natural Resources and Judiciary Committees and will be on second reading in the Senate on Monday, Jan. 27.This bill, which I touched on last week, will mandate all liquid holding tanks be regulated and regularly inspected by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.  The legislation would require all liquid holding facilities, except for those that contain water, to be registered and subject to inspection.This bill is all-encompassing in its intention to protect all watersheds in the state. It does not pick and choose areas deemed of critical concern. By examining every tank in the state, this legislation would also protect all groundwater from possible contamination.

I pledge to continue to do all that is within my power to ensure that the tragedy of this chemical spill and the subsequent contamination of our drinking water never happens again in West Virginia.

Another bill making its way through the  Senate would establish rules governing the Rural Rehabilitation Loan Program under the state’s Department of Agriculture. The program recently received a great deal of scrutiny after  an audit of the department discovered more than half the loans are delinquent and there was no effort to collect payments. The audit also found conflict of interests between the former commissioner, the loan board and some of the loan’s recipients. Senate bill 350 aims to correct these issues with reasonable legislation that we hope can re-gain the public trust in this agency.

The department has stopped all loans due to the audit. After a thorough review, the new administration was unable to find any laws that govern this loan program. Senate Bill 350  clarifies rules for the loan program and stipulates certain guidelines that they will need to put in place based on the post audit report.

The goal is to provide reasonable and transparent oversight while we make sure that this loan money is going to agriculture specific projects. This money will not simply go to farms, it will also go to certain infrastructure projects that relate to the agriculture industry.

My hope is that this legislation will restore the public trust in the agency and allow the money to stimulate prosperity in the agriculture industry in West Virginia, as it was originally intended.

If you would like to follow the daily action of the Legislature, visit the 81st Legislature on the web athttp://www.legis.state.wv.us/.

I encourage all of you, regardless of party or affiliation, to contact me with any concerns you have regarding issues facing our district or our state. You can write to me at: Jeffrey V. Kessler, State Senate, Room 227M, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305.


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