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Times are changing for West Virginia’s economy

Times are a changin’, Bob Dylan once told us, and for the first time in many years West Virginia can sing along. Coupled with our President’s bold tax cuts and regulation reforms, the West Virginia legislature’s own economic reforms blend in perfect harmony with President Trump’s policies to make an economy that is humming along wonderfully.

4.1percent GDP growth is the latest good news about our national economy; add to that the tremendous jobs reports month by month, and you can see bright things coming our way again in America!

West Virginia’s jobs reports, however, continue to impress also, with increases in jobs in energy, construction, manufacturing and others. When Republicans took over the control of the Legislature in 2015, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was at 6.7 percent. Since then, unemployment has fallen to 5.3 percent, with 16,000 more citizens employed as of June 2018. 16,000! West Virginia also experienced the largest reduction in unemployment in the United States from March 2016 to March 2017, reducing by 1.4 percent, according to the latest public data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

West Virginia also experienced, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the highest GDP growth in the nation from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017, at 6.48 percent. The USBEA reported that the largest contributor to real GDP growth in our state in 2017 was mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction. Top that off with coal production increasing by 31 percent, and natural gas production reported at a five-year high from June 2016 to June 2017, and you’ve got a real recovery!

But the music doesn’t stop there. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Mountain State has also seen incredible growth in per capita personal income. From Q3 2016 to Q3 2017, our state witnessed the highest growth in the nation in personal income at 3.4 percent; and our state had the second highest growth in the nation from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017 at 4.92 percent. Times are a changing’, indeed.

Part of the foundation of this growth is the crucial and substantial reforms in lawsuit (tort) reform that the new Republican leadership started building on immediately after taking control of the Legislature in 2015. Signed into law were transformational judicial reforms like Open and Obvious, which stops property owners from being sued if an individual is injured by a danger that is “open and obvious;” Premises Liability Reform, which protects property owners from being sued if someone illegally enters their property and is injured; Wrongful Conduct Rule, which prevents criminals from suing when they are injured committing a crime. Reforms like these, passed by the 2015 Republican-led legislature, took us promptly out of the “Judicial Hell-hole” bracket given to us year after year by the American Tort Reform Foundation.

West Virginia has historically been one of the very bottom states in the arena of job creation and economic freedom. Two years ago, Forbes had us ranked as the most over-regulated state in the country. Republican leadership took the bull by the horns to correct that and, since taking leadership in 2015, the Legislature has been able to repeal 1,364 rules from the State Register, reducing the size of the register by 62.5 percent — nearly two-thirds of all rules and regulations on the state books! Many other reforms are already law by the passing of the 2016 Regulatory Reform Act, including a five-year sunset provision for all future rules promulgated by agencies and higher education (with some exceptions).

Let’s stay the course in West Virginia by getting rid of even more punitive taxes and regulations, continuing to expand tort reform, and doing all we can do to encourage and get out of the way of the private sector so they can do what they do best–bring jobs to West Virginia!

Times are a changin’ all right; and in West Virginia, they’re changing for the better!

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