CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s top officials have high hopes for 2017 as both President-elect Donald Trump and Governor-elect Jim Justice prepare to take office.
“I’m really excited about working with the Trump administration,” said U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “We all are pledging to work with Governor-elect Justice and making sure that, again, that we’re moving forward on policies that are going to get people back to work.”
Capito told MetroNews her personal New Years Resolution is to get more organized, but for the state, her main goal is to help West Virginia’s struggling coal industry which has resulted in significant job losses.
“We need to have a full out energy policy working with the President to make sure that these regulations don’t just choke out our jobs and really harm our communities, which we’ve seen quite a bit here over the last several years,” she said.
Third Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) said this is an exciting time in the state and in the nation because of new opportunities.
“Elections are about either change of pace or change of direction. We were desperate for a change of direction and the voters of this country have given us an opportunity,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins also provided MetroNews with a personal New Years Resolution.
“Sure, I’m going to exercise a little bit more, but really, it’s about just trying to do as good a job as possible,” he said.
Jenkins said, like Capito, he plans to push for issues about energy opportunities in Congress.
“Let’s get coal back on its feet. Let’s help our coal miners by passing the coal Miners Protection Act,” he said.
Investing in infrastructure, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, encouraging state leaders to take advantage of federal funds available to help fix West Virginia’s budget issues and working to curb the state’s opioid epidemic are the top issues both Jenkins and Capito said they want to focus on in the New Year.
“There’s going to be a lot more money coming in for opioid and heroin addiction treatment and recovery. That’s an issue I care a lot about because it’s hurting our state so much. I want to work with our delegation to make sure that we’re getting the resources that we need,” Capito said.
Jenkins said his biggest accomplishment of 2016 was when President Barack Obama signed the NAS Healthy Babies Act, sponsored by Jenkins, to help improve care for babies born drug exposed.
“That’s an accomplishment I’m so very, very proud of,” he said. Jenkins has been a supporter of Lily’s Place, a facility in Huntington, that provides short-term medical care to infants suffering from NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome).
Looking back, Capito said there were several bills she’s proud they passed in 2016. She said that includes passing a five year highway bill on Route 35 and Corridor H in West Virginia, reworking the No Child Left Behind into the Every Student Succeeds Act and passing the 21st Century Cures Act.