by Delegate Roger Hanshaw

This week marks an historic occasion for the State of West Virginia. On Monday we inaugurated a new governor, Governor Jim Justice, along with a new Secretary of State, Mac Warner, a new Auditor, JB McCuskey, and a new Commissioner of Agriculture, Kent Leonhardt.  The arrival of a new governor always comes with a promise of new things and new ideas, and Governor Justice has promised a healthy supply of both. Under our state constitution, the regular session of the legislature is delayed by one month on years when a new governor takes office so that he or she can have time to put together their proposals for consideration by the legislature. I am looking forward to working with Governor Justice and his team to bring some new economic opportunity to our part of West Virginia. Late last week Governor Justice announced that he had brought former Delegate Bob Ashley onto his team as his legislative director. Bob is not only a personal friend of mine, but also a great friend to all the counties in the 33rd delegate district.  It will be great to work alongside Bob once again.

My assignments for the 2017-2018 legislature have changed a bit from last term. Beginning this week I will be serving as vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the Committee on Political Subdivisions, and the Legislative Rulemaking Review Committee. I asked for these assignments because they all relate directly to the problems we face in central West Virginia.

Last year West Virginians consumed over $6 billion worth of food, yet we produced less than one sixth of that here in our state. We have a great opportunity to capture some of that market here in West Virginia, especially in rural areas like ours, by making it easier and more attractive for our local food businesses to blossom into more significant food-based enterprises. Over these next two session I will be looking for ways to help lower the hurdles that keep some of our local companies from expanding. If you have personal experiences or stories to share, please contact me so we can let others learn from your experience.

For the past two years we have come together as a District to host an exhibit day in the State Capitol to showcase the counties, towns, schools, businesses, and local organizations in the 33rd Delegate District. We will do it again this year on Friday, March 24. In the next couple weeks we will be circulating more information in each county in the 33rd Delegate District for those folks who want to join us in Charleston on that day. It is a wonderful opportunity to let others from around our State see what is going on in the local communities of our District.

It is always a pleasure to welcome students to the State Capitol. The legislative page program will start again this year on February 8 and run through the end of the legislative session in April. If you know a student in our community who would enjoy getting the experience of sitting on the House floor during a meeting of the House of Delegates and learning more about how our legislature works, encourage them to contact either me or their school principal. Next week I will be providing information on the page program to all our schools, and I hope we can welcome several students to Charleston this year.

The regular session this year kicks off on February 8. I have a new office location this year.  If you find yourself in Charleston during the session and would like to stop by for a visit, I will be located in Room 408M in the main capitol building, or contact me. My contact number and email address have remained the same, and I can be reached at 304-340-3135 or roger.hanshaw@wvhouse.gov. Until next time, have a great week.