The 85th session of the West Virginia Legislature commenced on Feb. 10, 2021. Because of the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, those coming and going were severely limited as compared to the last session; however, the people’s work must continue.
The Capitol remains closed to the public, except for those with appointments and official business. Legislators will meet with lobbyist and others via appointment or virtually. It will lead to an interesting experience.
This year, it is my goal to help create an atmosphere for all West Virginian’s to stay in state, rebuild our economy, and help the people of the 20th District and West Virginia succeed. While that seems like a sensible goal to many, the Legislature must create law to ensure this happens. We should focus on initiatives to enhance broadband coverage to those in rural areas. Broadband coverage is an essential utility, not a luxury. Broadband should be affordable and accessible to every West Virginian.
Additionally, the Legislature should focus on returning our children to school safely, while ensuring our educators are equipped with the training and resources to safely educate our children both virtually and in-person. Further, we should focus on strengthening community resources and connections to help families and individuals impacted by addiction. During this trying time, we should not forget to support our frontline workers, first responders, and law enforcement. Advancing legislation to protect them and their retirement systems should be a priority.
Over the next week, I will be working with others to advance legislation that will affect each of those areas. On day one, bills were introduced that will create a Jump Start Savings Program for entrepreneurs in state, a bill that will limit the Governor’s power during a pandemic, a bill to increase broadband coverage in rural areas, and a re-write of the entire West Virginia criminal code.
Our goal as legislators should be to advance legislation that makes it easier for people to stay in West Virginia and succeed. For example, I am hopeful we can actually find ways to reduce tax obligations, not falsely claim there is a reduction while shifting the tax burden to our citizens. Many of the proposals I have seen will, in my opinion, result in two things: increased sales tax and increased personal property tax. Neither are acceptable.
Although in person access is limited, please feel free to email, call, or message me with your concerns. I know there are many. I will do my best to listen and address all, as working together we can make a difference.