The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce worked hard to advance policies that support job creation, capital investment, a diversified tax base and build stronger communities during the 2012 regular session.
During the session, there were:
• 1,351 bills introduced in the House
• 678 bills introduced in the Senate
• 200 bills passed in the House
• 233 bills passed in the Senate
• 213 bills passed by both the Senate and House
Below are summaries of some of the key Chamber-supported issues:
Tech Park Funding
During the session, a Senate legislative committee removed funding from Governor Tomblin’s budget for the West Virginia Education Research and Technology Park. The Chamber sent a call to action to our members. Because of your phone calls, e-mails and letters, the $3 million funding was restored during the final two days of the session.
We thank all of our members who spoke out and helped get that funding back in place. Most, if not all, non-profit research and technology parks in the nation receive support from state and local governments, which enjoy a return on investment through new jobs created, the development of new technologies and the commercialization of those technologies manufactured at the tech park.
“Brains for Business”
“Brains for Business” legislation, which was originally proposed by the Charleston Chamber in 2010, advanced through the legislative process further than ever before. The bill would provide modest tax credits to any state resident for the two years after receiving an associate, bachelor’s or advanced degree from an accredited institution.
During this session, the bill passed the House Finance Committee and the full House, but was voted down in a Senate legislative committee. But the Chamber and our members and partners didn’t give up. Through the tremendous response you provided in the form of phone calls, e-mails and notes to legislators, the bill was reconsidered and approved unanimously by the Senate Economic Development committee.
It’s a rarity for an issue to be reconsidered by a legislative committee, but with your help and support, we succeeded. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it through the final phase of its journey this year. It was stopped in the Senate Finance Committee. The Chamber will continue to work on this legislation in the future.
Natural Gas Vehicles
The Chamber also worked on legislation that would create new jobs, advance new infrastructure, and save taxpayers money through the use of natural gas vehicles. With the recent Marcellus and Utica Shale gas discoveries, along with the fact that natural gas is cleaner burning and less expensive than the current fuel standard, the Chamber is committed to keeping the value of these natural resources in West Virginia. This bill advanced through several phases of the legislative process and garnered support, which will hopefully be acted upon in the next legislative session.
Innovation Free Trade Zone
The Innovation Free Trade Zone (IFTZ) as unveiled at our 2012 Issues and Eggs briefing was passed by the House of Delegates thanks largely to the support and leadership of our own Delagate Doug Skaff. But IFTZ, which provides incentives for high-wage job creation in very specific “next-generation” economic segments (nano-technology, bioscience, green energy, etc.), failed to pass the Senate.
The Charleston Chamber will continue to work with our legislative leaders on policies that will support job creation and build stronger communities. We will keep members informed of critical issues that will impact our future. Again, thanks for your responses to our calls for action. It created momentum for these successes.
We thank you!