week three, jan/feb. 2016
West Virginia is suffering, but there's no urgency at the Capitol.

We're closing in on the halfway point of the 2016 legislative session and we've got to wonder: What do we have to show for the last month of work by our Legislature?

Certainly there's been a huge amount of activity on the most controversial bills. You know the ones we're talking about; the bills that, for better or worse, are blowing up the news cycle every day. 

But if you were expecting the same level of activity on bills relating to community and economic development, you're going to have to keep waiting.

The economic climate throughout much of West Virginia is stark. And it's getting worse every day. Boone County announced this week that it's laying off 77 school employees. Over the past two weeks, nearly 1,000 West Virginia miners have been put on notice that their mines are closing. Even the Department of Commerce has warned that it is going to have to start cutting jobs if state budget cuts continue. 

Out here in West Virginia's communities we're hearing the alarm bells going off. But in the Legislature, all the energy is going into the exact same bills that were fought and killed (or vetoed) last year. 

It's starting to look like the tail is wagging the dog at the West Virginia Legislature.

We want our legislators prioritizing bills that would have a significant, demonstrable and beneficial impact on community and economic development for West Virginia. We need innovation. We need proposals that respond to the urgency of the moment in our communities. 

Stephanie Tyree
West Virginia Community Development Hub

Identifying creative ways to address the growing problem of blight and dilapidated properties continues to be a priority for legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Could this include attracting artists and entrepreneurs who are willing to live in, and restore, abandoned buildings?

Could Expansion of Home Rule Inadvertently Cause the End of Home Rule Innovation?
West Virginia has more than two dozen cities in the home rule pilot program, with more cities seeking to participate in the program each year.

A bill being considered this year would give all municipalities the authority to enact ordinances that have been put in place by current home rule communities.

"Where Bills Go to Die." Committees At Glacier Speed On Economic Development Bills

One dilapidated buildings bill is moving along, but there's been little movement on community development proposals.

Why hasn't the Senate Economic Development Committee considered any bills in its last three meetings?

In West Virginia, women earn, on average, 69 percent of what their male counterparts earn.

A proposed bill would make it illegal for employers to ban their employees from talking about how much they earn. 

Say what you will about social, but it has greatly increased the ability of politicians to communicate with their constituents.

But what if you representative isn't on, for example, Twitter? What does this say about their interest in listening to the views of the people they are supposed to represent?

Up to Speed:
Where Are We At
With Broadband?

554,124 West Virginians are disconnected from the world wide opportunities the rest of the U.S. takes for granted.

Paying It Forward: Energy Efficiency Bill Building Steam

Yes, it's complicated. But this proposal to make it more affordable to do energy efficiency upgrades has been used successfully in 30 other states.

Could the  Local Energy Efficiency Partnership Act provide jobs and help the environment?

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West Virginia Community Development Hub
Charleston & Fairmont