State GOP laying out priorities for upcoming session

CHARLESTON, W. Va. — Incoming House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead and state Senate President Bill Cole have already had a number of meetings about the first pieces of legislation they will introduce during the upcoming 60-day regular session.

Armstead (R-Kanawha) said Monday on MetroNews Talkline the agenda starts with what he called the “cap and trade bill” passed a few years ago when U.S. Senator Joe Manchin was governor.

“We think it not only has devastating impact on our energy sector, our coal jobs in our state, but also it will result in increased utility rates for our citizens and we need to stop that,” Armstead said. “One of the first things we’re going to do is repeal that bill.”

The Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act requires for power generation to decrease to 75 percent from traditional sources by 2025.

Armstead said he believes there will be wide support to repeal the law.

Armstead and Cole also talked Monday on Talkline about legislation focusing on tort reform. Cole said West Virginia must escape its Judicial Hellhole label.

“We have to make sure that businesses that are both operating here now and that would want to come and relocate in our state would have a stable judicial system,” Cole said.

Del. Armstead said there would likely be push back from trial lawyers on the legislation but he said it’s about fairness.

“What we have in mind it’s more of a fairness issue. It’s not trying to push the balance in one way or another but we believe there are things within our judicial system that just aren’t fair and they aren’t very well-balanced and they are unpredictable,” Armstead said.

Republicans will be in control of the legislature for the first time since the 1930s when the session begins Jan. 14.

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