The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce works on an ongoing basis to explore and advance issues that affect employers, to develop policy proposals for consideration by state decision-makers and to focus attention on economic challenges and opportunities throughout West Virginia.
Over the past several years the Chamber’s standing committees and working groups have been key to developing and advancing the issues and needs of business. Here is an overview:
Civil Justice Reform
Mission: Monitors the actions of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia through Court Watch and seeks ways to inform Chamber members and the public about the importance of Judiciary action.
- Develops legislation and has helped enact several civil justice reforms, particularly in the areas of joint-and-several liability, third-party lawsuits, insurance regulations, premises liability, arbitration and punitive damage limits.
- Working to continue enacting comprehensive legal reform in West Virginia to bring the state in line with reforms enacted in nearly every other state.
- Worked to restore the Open & Obvious doctrine in premises liability.
- Spearheading a multi-year effort to bring fairness and balance to the state’s court system and to elect quality judicial candidates.
Mission: Provides leadership in the establishment and implementation of sound environmental policies, benefiting the quality of life and economic vitality of West Virginia.
- Manages a 200+-person group of environmental managers, specialists, attorneys and consultants who analyze environmental regulatory issues and collaboratively develop recommendations.
- Actively advocates before state regulatory agencies for business and industry.
- Hosts an annual Fly-in to visit EPA Region III in Philadelphia.
- Is involved in multiple legal challenges to the U.S. EPA’s overreaching authority.
- Hosts the annual West Virginia Environmental Conference, the largest event in West Virginia focusing on environmental issues of the day.
Mission: Provides proactive leadership in the area of governmental relations to further the mission of the Chamber as the Voice of Business in West Virginia and to affect policies at all levels of government to improve the business climate of the state.
- Manages a coalition of business lobbyists who work to enact policies and legislation beneficial to state employers.
- Successfully helped defeat the False Claims Act of 2014, which would have led to a drastic expansion of “sue and settle” lawsuits in West Virginia.
- Provides recommendations and strategic direction to The Chamber’s PAC, which has had an 80+ percent success rate in recent state election cycles.
Mission: Provides policy leadership and expertise on health issues that affect West Virginia with the goal of improving health systems and health status of its citizens.
- Worked with our health industry partners to provide increased opportunities for preventative care, low-cost insurance options and a health information network.
- Working with the pharmaceutical industry to guard against policies and laws that could undermine proprietary corporate information.
- Urging the state’s congressional delegation to enact legislation that would allow association health care plans.
Mission: Recommends policies and implements programs that aim to improve communications and cooperation between the state’s businesses and labor communities; advises Chamber members on human resources and employee benefits matters.
- Publishes the West Virginia Human Resources Journal, a respected publication covering topics and issues related to human resources and employment law issues in West Virginia.
- Hosts an annual Human Resources Conference designed to ensure HR managers from across West Virginia receive the most up-to-date information of relevant human resources topics.
- Helped enact legislation to fix the West Virginia Wage Payment & Collection Act and protect employers from litigation.
- Worked to enact legislation to cap unmitigated front pay awards in West Virginia, an anomaly that made West Virginia an outlier to other states.
Mission: Educates Chamber members and advocates in appropriate venues the consensus interest of the general business community in the matters of state and local taxation.
- Facilitates detailed research and analysis among the state’s leading tax experts and practitioners.
- Prepared a comprehensive policy paper on important changes needed to modernize the state’s tax system and to improve the competitiveness of state businesses.
- Analyzes proposals on tax reform to help weigh that benefits and costs.
Mission: Recommends programs and policies to promote the state’s tourism industry.
- Co-funded an economic impact study by WVU on the state’s tourism industry.
- Works with the state Tourism Commission, the Tourism Office and the W.Va. Hospitality and Travel Association to help advance the needs of the state’s travel and hospitality industries.
- Supports added funding for tourism promotion efforts.
- Developed a position paper on air service incentives.
Mission: Identifies, educates, communicates, and advocates issues while promoting a positive climate that is conducive to small business in West Virginia.
- Helped craft HB 2878 in 2015, the One Stop Shop Business Portal, which will help small businesses in West Virginia by requiring the Secretary of State’s office to develop an online portal to help businesses maintain compliance with state regulations, laws and taxes.
- Worked to pass SB 352 of 2015, which expands the definition of cooperative associations in West Virginia.
- Works with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, Leadership West Virginia and West Virginia Executive Magazine to host ResourceU, a series of training seminars throughout the state for small businesses.
Mission: Provides leadership to effect change in education policy and practice as desired by member of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
- Was instrumental in the successful passage of 2013’s SB 359, the Governor’s education reform bill.
- Helped with the passage of HB 2005 in 2015, which provides a pathway for career professionals to enter the classroom in critical need areas and teach students in the absence of a traditionally certified teacher.
- Working with members of the Legislature to bring West Virginia into line with 43 other states by passing a Charter School law.
Mission: Provides leadership and serves as a forum in promoting development of the state’s energy resources and energy technologies, and recommends realistic, sound and workable policies and programs through consensus of diverse energy interests.
- Provides a mechanism for a collaborative dialogue among all segments of the state’s energy industry.
- Works collaboratively with business leaders and groups to establish legislative priorities.
- Working with state agencies to develop a state energy policy/plan.
Mission: Promotes policies that help ensure all West Virginians have access to high speed internet services.
- Helped pass SB 488 in 2015, which reestablishes the Broadband Enhancement Council in West Virginia.
Transportation & Economic Development
Mission: Recommends programs to enhance state and local industrial and community development and advocates for a sound infrastructure throughout West Virginia.
- Participated with Governor Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Highway Commission.
Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Compensation
Mission: Works to maintain fair and financially solvent Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Compensation programs; monitors decisions affecting these programs; and advises Chamber members and the public of the effect these decisions have on economic development and jobs in West Virginia.
- Developed the model that was used to transfer the state’s Workers’ Compensation program from a state-run monopoly to a fully competitive, privatized enterprise.
- Enacted critical Workers’ Compensation reforms and a long-term funding plan that has resulted in a nearly 50 percent, on average, reduction in Workers’ Compensation premiums.
- Hosted a series of “Chamber Network” meetings and provided regular communications to state employers on Workers’ Compensation reforms and the privatization changes.