Legislation establishing jobs task force introduced

CHARLESTON – A bill establishing monthly House and Senate work groups on how West Virginia can be more aggressive in attracting jobs has been introduced in the West Virginia Legislature.

House Bill 3013 authorizes the Senate President and House Speaker to appoint job creation work groups that could work independently or with the Department of Commerce, the West Virginia Development Office or other executive office or agency of the state to obtain information to assist the Legislature to take effective action to increase and attract jobs in West Virginia.

Co-sponsors for the bill are all Democrats: Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; Speaker Pro Tem Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock; Majority Whip Mike Caputo, D-Marion; Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison; Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour; Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo; Health Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne; Government Organization Chairman Jim Morgan, D-Cabell; Senior Issues Vice Chairman Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh; and Energy, Industry & Labor Chairman Dan Poling, D-Wood.

The bill was developed through the House leadership, which is why no Republicans were sponsors, Speaker Rick Thompson said.

“This legislation was developed through discussions among House leadership and Senate leadership,” he said.

Activities would include, but not be limited to, meeting with existing businesses and organizations to further develop resources currently available to expand upon and grow job opportunities within the state.

“I see tremendous potential in legislative work groups that focus on specifically what the Legislature can do – in cooperation with other interested businesses and state agencies – to bring more jobs to West Virginia,” Thompson said. “Every legislator wants to generate more jobs in our state, and these groups would serve as a valuable resource.”

The Senate will be introducing a companion bill, Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, said.

“I am always looking for ways the Legislature can be proactive, and this concept is both proactive and innovative. It fits perfectly with the Senate leadership’s goals in moving the state forward,” Kessler said. “I am very encouraged by the initiative and believe it will be very well received in the Senate.”

A group of different House and Senate members will be appointed each month to spend a day visiting a particular company, city or region to learn about how businesses prosper and expand and about tactics local and state governments have used to attract businesses.

“We want members to travel to areas, both in state and out of state, to learn first-hand what makes different business models successful and how government can positively affect the process,” Thompson said. “In doing this, I think members will truly be energized and come back to the Legislature with some bold and interesting ideas.”

Kessler said he believes there will be much interest in the process.

“Members will see this as a unique learning experience and be eager to serve on these workgroups,” Kessler said. “By the end of the year, I envision having some creative, meaningful proposals as a result.”