Chamber's 2012 Legislative Values
The Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce announces its core legislative values for 2011 to help represent business in government. The following is a summary of key areas of focus the Chamber will address with legislators during the upcoming legislative session.
The Chamber believes that when government tries to intervene in traditional business operations, it adds costs, lowers productivity, and places those businesses at a competitive disadvantage. The Chamber opposes legislation that would mandate benefits, restrict communications with employees, regulate overtime, or “Card Check” legislation that makes it easier for organized labor to unionize companies without free and open elections.
West Virginia remains at the bottom of this legal climate list, and the steps taken by the legislature in insurance and medical liability reforms are under an unrelenting attack. Reforms enacted must be maintained, and the state must do more to counter the perception that West Virginia is anti-business. The legislature must continue to address issues affecting the state’s legal climate if we ever expect companies to consider West Virginia as a place to locate their business.
The state must have a focused Economic Development strategy that is articulated and communicated through the West Virginia Development Office and the West Virginia Development Authority to local communities. The State must provide more tools to attract domestic and foreign prospects to West Virginia including incentives, competitive business taxes, jobs and investment incentives, and programs such as the Shell Building Finance Program for both new and redevelopment construction. A key part of local economic development is Tri-State Airport, and we fully support funding for much needed modernization of the airport facility.
Our region’s health care providers, including hospitals and the medical community, are one of the major drivers in the area’s economy. The State must fully fund Medicaid and state-sponsored insurance programs so that additional costs are not shifted to patients and private insurers, and that health care providers are adequately compensated to assure the critical health needs of the region are not compromised. The Chamber supports expanded and collaborative efforts to develop policies and programs that will position our health care providers as leaders in the use of information. However, the cost of such health information technology should not be borne solely by health care providers, with the financial benefits flowing downstream to federal and state governments, and other payers.Environment
The Chamber believes that Federal Laws and regulations provide an aggressive program and framework to protect and improve the environment of West Virginia. Further, the Chamber believes that State regulations or laws more stringent than Federal regulations and laws will provide negligible benefits with high costs and reduced competitiveness for West Virginia businesses as an unintended consequence. The legislature should be mindful to protect our extraction industries such as coal, oil, gas and timber to insure we do not lose these important industries.
West Virginia must fully support and fund our university research institutions and community colleges. Supporting research that leads to commercialization at Marshall University and funding Marshall and Mountwest Community & Technical College are critical to our region’s economic health. The Chamber supports development and construction of new Marshall programs and facilities such as the School of Engineering and a Pharmacy program that fulfill an educational need in the region. The Chamber also supports full funding of the new MCTC building that will soon be under construction and renovation. We also support Charter School legislation and laws that allow school administrators to quickly remove ineffective teachers and more freedom in school management. Our economic success depends on having an available, well-trained and qualified work force.Energy
Energy is a vital part of West Virginia’s economy. The businesses, industries, manufacturers and residents of our state benefit from the low cost energy available in West Virginia. It is an essential competitive advantage when recruiting new business and retaining businesses in our state. We encourage and support actions that ensure energy rates in West Virginia remain competitive so that we can maintain our position as a low cost energy leader. We also encourage the use of the many resources available in our state that contribute to making our energy affordable.
Although improvements have been made, West Virginia is still not competitive when it comes to business taxes. Border communities such as Huntington suffer most when it comes to tax inequities with other states. The state still lags behind other states in competitive business taxes. Business taxes, such as the corporate net, personal property and business and occupation taxes must be reduced or eliminated if we want to attract and retain business to the state, and keep businesses in our cities. The state must be careful in granting local communities additional taxing authority without a voter referendum.