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The fifty-eighth West Virginia legislative session came to a close at midnight on March 14, 2015. It had been an action-packed session from the first day. In all, 1607 bills were introduced. Currently, 262 are listed as “completed legislation” on the Legislature’s website.

The new Republican majority went into the session with a long list of legislative goals. Prevailing wage was one of the first issues they took up. CCAWV supported not repealing, but finding a truer way to calculate prevailing wage rates. SB 361 aims to do just that – in conjunction with WVU and Marshall University’s economic research departments, Workforce West Virginia will investigate and determine the prevailing wage for public improvement projects that will cost more than $500,000.

The National Organization of Counties (NACo), has partnered with the National Association of Development

Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation to launch an exciting new program: Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Communities. We are thrilled to announce that McDowell County has been selected as one of seven teams to participate in the program’s inaugural workshop!

The program aims to provide coal-reliant counties and communities with the tools they need to re-imagine their communities’ economic futures, and blueprints to begin moving forward. There are three competitions slated for this year.

To celebrate “County Government Month”, CCAWV has launched its annual essay contest. Held every April, we ask eighth grade students to write a 500 word essay describing how their county commission helps them in their daily lives. In previous years, some commissions have used this as an opportunity to engage their young community members. They have gone to schools and spoken about what they do. They’ve explained how some processes, like budgeting, which may seem abstract to an eighth grade mind, work to provide very tangible benefits to residents (like parks!).

Another legislative session behind us! I am working on summaries of signed legislation that have county implications and hope to get it to you sometime this month.

County Leadership Academy 2015 planning continues. I attended a monthly meeting in Morgantown on March 18th and this year’s theme is “Think Creatively, Connect Resourcefully.” WVU President Gordon Gee has confirmed his participation for 2015 and other presenters are shaping up nicely! Save the date – Sept 30 – Oct 2.

I attended the 2nd WV Physical Activity Symposium at Embassy Suites, hosted by WVU. Terrific presentation line-up, (including PEIA) updating on numerous physical activity opportunities currently taking place in West Virginia and ideas & resources for more! I also spent the afternoon with other sector committee members updating the WV Physical Activity Plan 2020. CCAWV is a partner in this effort to get West Virginians moving. Statistics prove being active = being healthier!

Wow! What a Legislative session. Our heads are reeling from so many bills that had a direct effect on county budgets. It seemed that things changed almost every day and it was so difficult to keep up with exactly how much those changes would cost the county. We still have issues that are being studied by the Legislature and we can expect those to be back next year. It was an interesting session, to say the least.

Lots and lots of thanks go to Vivian Parsons and Steve Kominar for their unwavering support of counties. I could not begin to know just how many hours they spent at the Capitol keeping up with all the legislation that was forever changing. Vivian and Megan always seemed to find time to inform our membership as to what was happening on a daily basis. This allowed everyone to stay in contact with their own legislators and made a huge difference in the outcome of the session. We now have time to get ready for next year and, hopefully, be better prepared to deal with the issues.

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