Two of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce’s key 2011 legislative proposals need your support.
West Virginia Economic Development Act of 2011/
Innovation Free Trade Zone
The first Charleston Chamber priority, (Creating Twenty-First Century Business Technologies Property Valuation Act and Tax Credit Act), passed the Senate Economic Development Committee Feb. 15 and now goes to the Senate Finance Committee.
We encourage members to contact Senate Finance Committee members to communicate your support for this bill, which will lead to new job creation in the state.
“SB 449 would, in effect, create an ‘innovation free trade zone by providing tax incentives for businesses that create jobs in new sectors of our economy,’” explained Mike Basile, chairman of the Charleston Chamber. “Developing policies that encourage investment in 21st century business technologies will be key to creating a West Virginia economy that is more diverse, conducive to innovation and positioned for sustained growth,” he said.
Twenty-first century business technologies include cloud (Internet-based) computing; energy conservation; alternative and renewable fuels; and clean coal systems and technologies.
SB449 is now before the Senate Finance Committee. Charleston Chamber members are urged to contact Committee Chair Roman Prezioso to let him know how critical this measure is to the future of our state.
Brains for Business
The second, HB 2920 (Brains for Business), creates tax credits for interest paid on student loans and tax incentives for West Virginians who receive a degree from an accredited institution of higher learning.
The purpose of the bill is to promote higher education and attract and retain the next generation of business and community leaders and innovators. “As we transition to a knowledge-based economy, growing our intellectual capital will be essential the future of our state,” said Charleston Chamber President/CEO Matt Ballard.
HB 2920 has been referred to the House Education Committee then to House Finance.
Charleston Chamber members are encouraged to contact House Education Committee Chair Mary Poling to voice their support and urge the Committee to send it on to the full House.
To see the full bill, click here.
Other bills that impact business
The Charleston Chamber is also tracking a number of bills that could significantly impact business and the state economy.
One bill of great interest is SB 307, which would create intermediate court of appeals. West Virginia is one of only 10 states without an intermediate appellate court and the only state that does not provide an absolute and meaningful appeal of right of a final judgment from a trial court. “Lack of automatic right of appeal diminishes confidence in our justice system among West Virginia citizens and those considering our state as a place to do business,” said Basile.
We are very pleased that Senate Bill 307, the intermediate appellate court bill, has very broad support with nearly 22 of the 34 State Senators sponsoring the legislation.
Sponsors of SB 307 are: Kessler (Acting President), Hall, Unger, Jenkins, Plymale, Foster, Minard, Prezioso, McCabe, Stollings, Browning, Palumbo, Green, Beach, Boley, Nohe, K. Facemyer, Sypolt, Barnes, Wells and Klempa.
We expect Senate Bill 307 will be taken up for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. We urge you to let members of the Committee know that you support an intermediate appellate court.
Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee Members by clicking on their name:
Senator Palumbo – Chair
Senator Wills – Vice-Chair
Another bill of concern is SB310, which would dramatically expand eligibility for unemployment compensation to the following: part time employees; workers who leave employment due to transfer or relocation of a spouse; those who leave to care for disabled or ill immediate family member; and employees who leave as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
The Charleston Chamber strongly opposes this measure, which would add financial burdens to our state’s unemployment compensation fund and businesses struggling in a fragile economy. SB 310 is sponsored by Senators Kessler, Unger and Klempa.
Also of alarm to the business community is HB 2770, the Flexible Leave Act, which gives employees the ability at any time, and virtually without notice or proof, to use paid time off for a family member’s illness (spouse, child or parent). The bill, as amended, applies to businesses with 50+ employees. Serious business interruptions could result from unexpected employee absences, and the Charleston Chamber opposes this measure.
HB 2770 is sponsored by Delegates Caputo, Fragale, Hatfield, Martin and Moye.
The Charleston Chamber will continue to monitor these and other bills of interest to the business community alert our members at critical times throughout the legislative session.