CHARLESTON – As West Virginia's 2016 legislative session nears, the state's top legislators are setting their priorities for the upcoming term.
Senate President Bill Cole's (R-Mercer) office says that although it’s “very early,” they are beginning to discuss what its priorities for the 2016 legislative session will be.
“It’s clear the top issue we will address is stabilizing the budget and dealing with the fiscal crisis that’s facing our state,” his office said.
House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) says he plans to spend the next two months working with legislators to discuss the necessary improvements he plans to propose in the upcoming session.
Armstead is confident that West Virginia can address and fix the economic challenges faced by the state, despite operating under extreme budget constraints.
“Our overall top priority will be to enact policies that will spur job creation and boost our economy," he said. "We can pass some bold and reasonable reforms to spur growth while being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money."
Infrastructure is another one of the speaker’s main priorities. He says that it will help attract new business investment to West Virginia, and improving the quality of life for all citizens.
“We will also need to work to improve our infrastructure and roads. Our citizens are fed up with the poor status of our state roads and we need to address this challenge,” he said.
Additionally, Armstead says that the House wants to reform the legal climate of West Virginia, particularly considering an intermediate appellate court, and the state’s education system.
“We’ll also be taking a close look at our education system to find better ways to teach our children, as well as cut bureaucratic waste in the system,” said Armstead.
Beyond civil reform, the speaker says that he would like to kick-start more ethical accountability within the state, both on the ends of its citizens and its government.
“We plan to enact additional ethics legislation to improve transparency and accountability in state government, as well as reforms to combat the ever-increasing drug abuse problems that are plaguing our families and communities,” he said.
The legislative session will begin on Jan. 13 and end March 12.