Local lawmakers discuss upcoming legislative session

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.-(WTAP) The new chairman of the West Virginia House Finance Committee, armed with an voter-approved constitutional amendment, plans to take a close look at the much-discussed finances of the state's supreme court.

Wood County Delegate Vernon Criss believes the state's tax revenues are in good shape-for the time being.

"I don't think we'll have the devastation we had 4-5 years ago, as far as the dollars are concerned, as far as running state government," Criss told us recently. "I think things are looking pretty good in the short term; it's the long term I'm concerned about."

A local state senator, however, believes the legislative body as a whole will take another crack at eliminating the state's business inventory tax, something which fell short in 2018 of being passed.

"We need something fundamental to change the work atmosphere in West Virginia, to keep in the road to being a job-creating state," says Sen. Mike Azinger. "I think this will do it exponentially."

Another local delegate, John Kelly, will chair the House Energy Committee, and is looking at more incentives for oil and gas producers.

"We're looking right now at some proposals for small producers; that would be those individuals who have vertical wells and not horizontal, and they're shallow wells."

And one of the state's longest-serving members believes there's a lot of agreement already on major issues.

"I think there's an agreement for another 5% pay raise," says Pleasants County Senator Donna Boley, in office since 1986, "and there just seems to be more goodwill between both sides of the aisle, and agreement on some things we want to do."

Gov. Jim Justice delivers his State of the State message Wednesday night. Leaders of the House and Senate present their plans for the upcoming session Tuesday.