CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State lawmakers are hearing directly from members of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council ahead of the start of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.

On Monday, the organization’s members were in Charleston for BIC’s 3rd Annual “Building On Success” Pre-Legislative Conference with the session scheduled to open Wednesday at the State Capitol.

“We think it’s just an excellent opportunity to refine our legislative objectives and priorities and make sure they’re consistent, to the extent possible, with our legislative leaders,” said Chris Hamilton, BIC chair.

Those scheduled to speak included House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha, 40) and incoming Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 04) along with representatives from West Virginia University’s Bureau for Business and Economic Research.

Leaders in energy, manufacturing, health care, construction and agriculture were attending.

Hamilton said the focus was on the challenging issues, economically and otherwise, West Virginia is facing and setting session priorities.

“It is all about jobs. It is all about improving our economy, but it’s just not going to happen because everybody incorporates that within their talking points,” Hamilton said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We have to dissect each of those issues, figure out what it’s going to take to make gains in those areas and then make those tough decisions going forward.”

The mission of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council, which is made up of trade associations and businesses from 26 industry classifications representing an estimated 400,000 workers, is to improve the state’s business climate.

BIC supported Senate President Bill Cole (R-Mercer, 06) ahead of the Nov. 2016 general election. Moving forward, Hamilton predicted BIC members would find plenty of common ground with Governor-elect Jim Justice.

“Jim’s clearly been in business a long time. He’s mined a little coal, his business portfolio’s very, very diverse, so he’s had a lot of interaction and shares a lot of the objectives,” Hamilton said.

On Wednesday, members of the state Senate and state House of Delegates convene to choose leaders and hear from outgoing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The 2017 session will then adjourn until Feb. 8.

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