Jan. 28, 2015 
What's Happening: Week 3 at the Capitol
In Week 3, the Legislature Really Roared Into Gear

The pace of activity at the West Virginia State Capitol picked up this week
as the Legislature got into the full swing of the session.

Almost a thousand bills were introduced by the end of week three. 
Of these, only three bills are completed legislation, having passed both chambers and now awaiting the Governor's signature.

Read on to learn about the legislative hubbub from this week
and what community development issues were at the forefront of conversation.

Farmers Market bill passes Senate Ag Committee
Farmers markets in West Virginia moved a step closer on Monday to a standardized permit system that growers and vendors say would improve the industry and help keep produce prices low for shoppers.

But this important bill, SB 304, now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it will certainly face threats to passage. 

Learn more, including a great opportunity to lend your voice.

As predicted, the Senate yesterday introduced a bill to "transfer the powers and duties of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to the Housing Development Fund."

Groups dedicated to housing policy and affordable housing in West Virginia have raised significant concerns with the impact of this bill on communities across the state.

If affordable housing is an important issue to you,
discover how you can get involved.

Major Conversations of Week 3
Charter schools, right to work and prevailing wage legislation were the major topics of conversation this past week. While there has been lots of talk about economic development opportunities throughout the state, there has been less attention on community development as a mechanism towards economic development.

Of note to community development advocates are three bills that would:

Know Your Leaders...

Senator Jeff Kessler (Marshall Co.) and Delegate Tim Miley (Harrison Co.) are the new Minority Leaders of the two chambers. Both have experience as legislative leaders, though their roles have changed significantly this year. As Minority Leaders, it is their responsibility to lead the democratic caucus and to coordinate the Democratic Party's agenda during the legislative session.

They also serve as co-sponsors, with the Senate President and House Speaker, on all legislation that is introduced at the request of the Governor's Office. The Governor does not have the power to introduce legislation, so any bill that comes at the request of his office is required to be introduced by both the majority and minority leadership.

This week we introduce to you:
House Minority Leader Tim Miley. Photo Credit: WV State Legislature

Delegate Miley was House Speaker from June 2013 to Jan. 2015 following former Speaker Rick Thompson's appointment as Secretary of the Department of Veteran's Assistance.

Hailing from the Clarksburg area, which has seen significant economic growth and job development in the natural gas field, Delegate Miley regularly speaks about the job opportunities that are available across the state. He is a strong proponent of small business development and has suggested that workforce readiness and drug abuse are some of the major challenges facing the state.

Minority Leader Miley can be reached at his office in room 250 of the main building at the Capitol, and by phone (304-340-3240).

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler. Photo Credit: WV State Legislature

Senator Kessler led the senate chamber as President from 2011 to 2014. He replaced Governor Tomblin as Senate President after the major changes in state and federal leadership following Senator Robert C. Byrd's death.

In his new role as Minority Leader, Senator Kessler continues to lead the organizing of his party. He was the first senator to request a Jobs Impact Study on a bill, a new mechanism advocated for by the Republican leadership to look at the jobs created or impacted by proposed legislation.

Senator Kessler has been a strong advocate for community and economic development in West Virginia. He can be reached at his new office, room 257 in the main building and by phone (304-357-7902).

Inside the game with Judiciary Chairman Shott
An interesting article in the Charleston Daily Mail this week offers significant insight into how the Judiciary Committee works, and how legislative chairmen think about their roles and responsibilities.

Learn more, including "What will keep a bill from getting on the agenda?"

Bills We're Watching: Local foods on the menu
The Hub is busy tracking legislation relating to community development, abandoned properties and local foods issues each week.

Follow our Bills We're Watching blog posts for the latest info, legislative updates and votes. 

This week, a number of bills impacting food production and sales mean there's much at stake for West Virginia's agriculture and food retail industries. Read more...

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The West Virginia Community Development Hub
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Fairmont, WV 26554