Government relations important for the MOV Chamber

One of the areas of focus for the MOV Chamber is Government Relations. On behalf of our members, we facilitate communications with our elected officials and provide opportunities for members to share regulatory and legislative concerns that affect their ability to do business in the State of West Virginia, or their local municipality.

A couple weeks ago we were proud to hold a Legislative Meet & Greet between the senators and delegates that serve the Mid-Ohio Valley and MOV Chamber members. The 60-day 2019 Legislative Session starts on Wednesday, January 9 and it was our goal to connect before the hustle and bustle of the session begins.

The elected officials in attendance were Senators Boley and Azinger (District 3), and Delegates Anderson (District 8), Azinger, Criss and Kelly (District 10). Delegate Hollen (District 9) was unable to attend.

In case you are wondering about the House districts, District 8 Delegate Bill Anderson covers Boaz, Williamstown, Waverly, and portions of Wood County up to the Ritchie County line and northern tip of Wirt county. District 9 Delegate Ray Hollen covers Mineral Wells, Rt. 47, southern portion of Wood County and the entirety of Wirt County. District 10 has 3 delegates until 2022 when new district boundaries will be crafted following the 2020 census and we will instead have single-member districts throughout the state. District 10 currently covers North Hills, Vienna, Parkersburg, Lubeck and Washington.

Also joining us was Bob Ashley, the Governor’s Legislative Director. Mr. Ashley was a Delegate in the House from 1985 – 1999, again in 2001 – 2015, then he served as our District 3 Senator from September 2015 – January 2017 before embarking on his current position in the Governor’s office.

1. To start the event, we asked each of the Senators and Delegates for the Mid-Ohio Valley to share the top 2 issues they will be introducing/seeking to advance during the 2019 Legislative Session. Here are the items they shared with attendees:

a. Education

b. The elimination of the tangible Personal Property on business inventories

c. Intermediate Appellate court

d. The need for an ethane storage hub

e. Supreme Court budget oversight

f. Home rule

2. Chamber members in attendance then shared challenges/issues they wanted to bring to our elected officials attention as they head into the 2019 session. Of concern:

a. Broadband speed and pricing for libraries

b. Medicaid reimbursement rates haven’t increased in 15 years, but the cost of doing business has increased (minimum wage, drugs, services, etc.)

c. Need for increased tourism dollars to promote WV

d. Frivolous lawsuits

e. Title 19 waiver needs to be fully funded

f. Importance of arts funding

g. Home rule legislation early in session as city/county budgets are due by March 26

h. State getting first position for past due sales tax over previously filed bank liens

i. 5 year notice for homes where a death has occurred

j. Plumbers and contractors are not allowed to do outside gas line work due to new ruling

I appreciated the specific information that our members shared about the challenges of doing business in our great State – as I watched the reaction in the crowd as members shared the items above, it was obvious that many were surprised to hear the regulations and constraints that fellow businesses work within. By sharing these issues our members were asking our elected officials to look into these concerns and if possible, advance some changes to encourage business growth, or at the very least, to reduce barriers to doing business in West Virginia.

If I could make one suggestion to our members, it is this – stay in contact with our Senators and Delegates. I’m glad the MOV Chamber can facilitate opportunities for members to interact with our elected officials like this Meet & Greet or our annual MOV Chamber Day at the Capital, but meet them whenever you have the chance, send them information, stay in contact outside of the legislative session. The 60 day Legislative Session is so busy, therefore it is important to get in front of them before they go to Charleston on your behalf. And while they are in session, remember that much of the work gets done in committee meetings so I would encourage you to track those agendas and attend if your time allows.

We do receive frequent updates from the WV Chamber of Commerce while session is in place – many items impact all businesses but there can be very specific legislation that only affects a certain category of business. I’m glad that our elected officials are good at reaching out too when they need input from our members on certain legislation, so I forward those requests to specific businesses so that the business owners can provide details about how proposed legislation might impact that category of business.

Thank you to Brian Raitz, Executive Director of the Parkersburg & Wood County Public Library for hosting the event in their auditorium.

And many thanks to our elected officials for listening to our concerns and for their hard work in Charleston on behalf of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Final note: The 2019 Legislative Session starts on Wednesday, Jam. 9 and ends on Saturday, March 9.

Track and follow bills and activity at wvlegislature.gov

Visit this space every other Sunday for more Chamber news. We also invite you to call us at 304-422-3588, email us at info@movchamber.org, or stop by the Chamber office at 501 Avery Street, 9th Floor in Parkersburg.

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Jill Parsons is the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley

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