By VIC SPROUSE
CHARLESTON -- Every lawmaker should get a copy of this week's "Decision Makers" program.
It was fantastic.
Four, young, bright, articulate high school graduates gave a wonderful lesson in what the future of West Virginia brings without sweeping changes.
First, let me say, I don't worry about the A and B students out there. Those students are going to be successful. They may have to be successful outside of West Virginia, but they are going to be successful. I tend to worry more about those C students, but I digress.
The four who were on West Virginia Media's "Decision Makers" are all going to be fine. Two are going to be doctors, one a journalist, one a filmaker.
Two have no chance of staying in West Virginia, these folks are gone. Of the two doctors, maybe we'll keep one.
Both were worried about malpractice suits, all thought West Virginia had a bad reputation and a poor business atmosphere.
They mustn't have received the joint memo from the Trial Lawyers Association, the West Virginia Chamber and MoJo that everything in West Virginia is now just peachy-keen.
It was shocking to see students, with their careers ahead of them, plainly articulate exactly what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been saying. (The Record is owned by the U.S. Chamber.)
I was accused last week by the Trial Lawyers of being a schill for the U.S. Chamber, I guess those wacky folks at the U.S. Chamber slipped into these students' bedrooms and placed some cash under their pillows like the tooth fairy before they went on the air.
The students were worried about the legal climate and both potential doctors cited malpractice suits as a driving factor as to where they would end up.
Hmmm ... I guess all those docs were lying when they said a few years ago that doctors choose states based on malpractice reforms.
Bray Cary asked them if they sat around and talked about how to make West Virginia better. They said not really.
Of course, they don't.
After all, it's not their job to make West Virginia better. It is their job to get an education and set out on their own, if West Virginia provides them opportunity to stay, great. But, if not, they will go elsewhere.
All were worried about West Virginia's image. All were worried about West Virginia's legal climate.
West Virginia legislators should listen up. And, they should listen now.
Not to other politicans, but to the very intelligent, articulate young people who will make up its future ... or who will leave to brighter pastures in states who have the economy to provide them those opportunities.
I recommend every legislator watch.
Well, wait, if you don't like what the U.S. Chamber has to say about our state, you may not want to listen to the case for change these 18-year-olds laid out for us.
Sprouse has served in the Legislature since 1995 and resides in Charleston. He graduated from Penn State University with a Chemical Engineering degree and currently owns and operates several fitness centers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.