CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Supporting right-to-work legislation is one of the top priorities for the West Virginia Business and Industry Council heading into the 2016 Legislative Session, according to chairman Chris Hamilton.

“It’s no doubt controversial, but when you talk to the local economic development professionals they cite a real need to incorporate that issue and opportunity within their assortment of tools that they use to track new businesses here in the state,” Hamilton said.

The right-to-work bill would allow workers to choose whether to pay labor unions.

Hamilton said the state’s economy suggests West Virginia labor laws are in desperate need of reform.

“It’s also evolving into a workplace freedom issue to give our industrial class of workers the individual right and opportunity to make those decisions, whether they want to belong to an employee organization or union and if they do which union they would like to belong to,” he said.

Hamilton hosted the BIC’s 2016 Pre-Legislative Conference Tuesday in Charleston to discuss economic development issues with state leaders.

Other areas the BIC will be working on include taxation, energy and substance abuse.

Meetings will be held throughout the state this month. Hamilton said this is to ensure they are fully prepared for the upcoming session.

“We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and kind of just going about things the same old lackadaisical way. We got to become a little more energized and prepare to do what’s necessary to move West Virginia forward,” he said.

The 2016 Regular Legislative Session will open Jan. 13 at the State Capitol.