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New legislation could establish job creation task force in WV

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Republicans in the West Virginia House of Delegates have decried the lack of job creation bills introduced this session, but one new piece of legislation could establish a task force that would look into ways to create new jobs.

House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, announced March 21 the introduction of legislation to create a monthly House and Senate work group dedicated to learning how West Virginia can more aggressively attract jobs.

"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 in a news release. "Every legislator wants to generate more jobs in our state, and these groups would serve as a valuable resource."

The Senate will introduce a companion bill and Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, said he is encouraged by the initiative.

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

The bill moving through the House, House Bill 3013, would authorize the House Speaker and Senate President to appoint job creation work groups that could work independently or in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, the West Virginia Development Office or other executive offices or agencies of the state to obtain information to assist the Legislature's efforts to take action to increase the number of and attract jobs to West Virginia.

Activities would include meeting with existing businesses to further develop resources currently available to grow job opportunities within the state.

If the legislation passes, Thompson and Kessler will appoint a group of different delegates and senators each month to spend a day visiting a particular company, city or region to learn about how businesses prosper and expand in that area, as well as various ways state and local governments use to attract business.

"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."

"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."

Cosponsors of HB 3013 are: Delegates Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock; Mike Caputo, D-Marion; Tim Miley, D-Harrison; Mary Poling, D-Barbour; Harry Keith White, D-Mingo; Don Perdue, D-Wayne; Jim Morgan, D-Cabell; Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh; and Dan Poling, D-Wood.

The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.