There were 215 bills adopted during the 60-day session and your Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce worked diligently to represent the interests of our membership and support public policy improvements for the state.
The Charleston Chamber’s marquee piece of the 2013 legislative session was Project Launchpad. The legislation would have:
- created incentives for both existing and new businesses to locate new operations in the state to commercialize new technologies,
- worked to assist new graduates with student loan debt.
Unfortunately, this bill did not make it to the Governor’s desk. However, the Senate did pass a resolution calling for a legislative study on the policy proposal to be completed during the interim sessions between now and the start of the 2014 legislative session.
Economic Development in the Film Industry
Films like “Super 8” and television shows like “The Men Who Built America,” have recently been filmed in the state and these tax credits are a big reason why. Film and television productions impact our economy through equipment leased and talent hired during production, not to mention small businesses that gain important revenues and sales when these productions take place in the state.
Near the end of the session, a regrettable amendment made in the House of Delegates would have severely crippled the state’s ability to attract new film industry projects to the state. Members and staff of the Charleston Chamber worked to remove this amendment in the Senate.
The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce supported Governor’s Tomblin’s education reforms during the session. While some of the reforms did pass and will become law, special interest groups were successful in getting some of the most important reforms taken out of the bill. There is still much work to be done to pull WV’s education system out of last place.
Shale Research, Education, Policy and Economic Development Center
A bill that would have created a “think tank” on shale gas development did not progress during the session. While many in the state realize the advantages offered by the Utica and Marcellus Shale developments, the Chamber believes there is a need for additional statewide leadership related to this opportunity.
In order to maximize the potential for all West Virginians, the energy industry and the downstream chemical industry, the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce supported this legislation. In the future, the Chamber will support creating an Energy Development Center to be located at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston.
West Virginia must be a leader in energy in our nation and this center is clearly a step in that direction. We’ll offer more details on our thoughts on the center in the near future and hope to earn your support on the matter moving forward.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Infrastructure
The Charleston Chamber supported legislation that expanded and extended tax credits for the infrastructure needed to convert the fleets of both public and private entities to natural gas.
Legislation did pass related to these issues and the Chamber will continue to work with the Kanawha Converts consortium on successes like the new clean natural gas fueling stations that will be built in Charleston, Bridgeport, and Jane Lew.
Creating Efficiencies in the Regional Community and Technical College System
The Charleston Chamber also supported successful legislation that allows Bridgemont Community and Technical College and Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College to become one independent, multi-campus entity.
Tax Increment Financing Improvements
The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce supported successful legislation that will improve the process and opportunities with tax increment financing, an economic development tool passed through a constitutional amendment of the citizens of West Virginia in 2001.
As always, the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce will continue to push for public policy changes in West Virginia that creates new capital investments and new jobs, while promoting research and innovation.
We appreciate your membership and support.