The Rowan Report: A large investment for West Virginia

·2 min read
Del. Ruth Rowan
Del. Ruth Rowan

The House of Delegates was called into Special Session on Jan. 10 to take action on the West Virginia Industrial Advancement Act.

The bills included in this package of bills would be the largest single investment ever made in the state of West Virginia. The project would take place in Mason County and the Northern Panhandle and would bring about 1000 construction jobs and 800 full-time jobs with benefits. John Deskins, an economics expert from West Virginia University, developed an impact study on the proposed project, forecasting a positive $25 billion economic impact for our state, with the potential of creating as many as 5,000 new downstream jobs. Legislation passed the House Tuesday and was sent to the Governor.

Wednesday, Jan. 12, was the first day of regular session. High on the priority list this year will be broadband connectivity. West Virginia ranks 47th in the nation. Over 30% of our residents lack access according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Last year we passed the “Dig Once” bill that allowed broadband and utility companies to join together and share the cost of projects that require digging on property managed by the Department of Highways. This allows for repairs and installation at the same time the ground is opened. Legislation this year will focus on overall connectivity throughout the state.

The State of the State Address was scheduled for the evening of Jan. 12. However, the Governor tested positive for covid and was unable to address the full legislature. A condensed version of his speech was read to the House and the Governor’s Budget Bill was presented. On page 40 of his budget bill was an appropriation for the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. Last year’s budget, 2022, appropriated $14,677,888. This year’s budget, 2023, appropriates $15,021,801. From time to time in the community I hear concerns that our school is going to close or be repurposed for undesirable use. These concerns are totally untrue. There are many exciting things going on there and they will continue to grow.

On Friday I was able to take a ride in a new 91-passenger electric school bus. Delegate Chris Toney, a school bus driver from Raleigh County, drove us on a quiet, smooth ride through Kanawha County. The company manufacturing these electric school buses will be setting up business in South Charleston. This new facility will create 150 new jobs as it opens, with a long range projection of 900 jobs.

Session ends at midnight Saturday, March 12, 2022. The best way to contact me until then is by phone at 304-340-3157 or email at ruth.rowan@wvhouse.gov

This article originally appeared on Mineral Daily News-Tribune: The Rowan Report: A large investment for West Virginia