The Lewisburg Rotary Club had several special guest speakers at their regular meeting last Monday. Delegate George “Boogie” Ambler, Delegate Jeff Campbell, and Senator Stephen Baldwin all attended to discuss the upcoming 2018 legislative session.
Delegate Ambler spoke first, listing issues that he believes will be prominent topics in 2018, which included bringing broadband internet throughout the state, focusing on education, promoting energy, and working on transparency in the government. Something he hopes the legislature will focus on is a commitment to put West Virginia back to work. Ambler emphasized, “I think that as a legislature we are going to be taking a look at the business and inventory tax. We realize that it’s tough on counties, so we’re going to have to be very careful with how we go about this.” He also wants to remove several cumbersome regulations that impede business growth in the Mountain State. “We need to work diligently on broadband. We need to bring broadband to all of West Virginia. This is a holdup for businesses. I believe there will be a very conscious effort to make that happen.”
As far as education goes, Ambler said, “We need to do something to help those kids who are not going for a four year degree. We need to get them trained, and put them out there to where they are making the jobs.”
Focusing on substance abuse, Ambler suggests that if a person receives Narcan, a drug which reverses a narcotic overdose, it must be mandatory for that person to receive some sort of drug rehabilitation to help deal with their addiction. “We cannot continue to have the same guys receiving Narcan over and over again,” said Ambler.
Senator Baldwin said, “You can look at what’s going to happen in the legislature this year from a couple different perspectives. Everybody has an agenda.” Baldwin believes that the leadership is going to push for tax reform, for forced pooling in the oil and gas industry (which is essentially eminent domain, said Baldwin), and for several constitutional amendments in the areas of budgeting checks and balances. Baldwin said that, personally, budget is the first and foremost focus for him. “You all know what happened last year with the budget session that we faced, we’re not going to have as big of a hole this year, it looks like at this point that it might be around a $140 million hole for next year,” Baldwin explained.
“There are too many people in the capital who just see numbers on the page, not the lives those numbers reflect,” Baldwin continued. “We have got to make an effort this year to have a budget this year that reflects the lives that people live in our district. That’s job number one.”
Delegate Jeff Campbell, who is relatively new to the House, was appointed to his position after Baldwin moved from the House of Delegates to the U.S. Senate, leaving a vacant seat. Governor Justice appointed Campbell in October. He says he is excited to be able to participate in the upcoming legislative session.
All three guest speakers took questions from rotary members afterwards, listening to concerns and clarifying their points. The next rotary club meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 18, at 12 noon in the Elks’ Country Club.