For the past 60 days, the dedicated men and women elected to represent the people of West Virginia in our legislature have worked with me and my administration to pass meaningful legislation.
During the 2013 Legislative Session, we focused our attention on building a brighter future for all West Virginians. I believe we made significant progress for our children, families, seniors, businesses, and communities across the Mountain State.
We set out to vastly improve our education system and we passed landmark education reform. Through this legislation, we are empowering our teachers and setting goals to raise student achievement. I’m extremely proud of this bill, and I believe it will help us actively prepare our kids for a successful future.
We also took a close look at improving public safety. With the passage of my justice reinvestment proposal, we will better address the substance abuse and recidivism problem within our prison population. We’ll penalize those who break the law and we will help rehabilitate those who are willing to help themselves, all while lessening the financial burden on taxpayers.
We also took bold action to give our law enforcement the tools they need to deal with drivers under the influence. Many years ago, we gave them the tools they needed to deal with drunk drivers. Now we are giving them the ability to address a prominent threat: drugged driving. We’re also helping those who voluntarily aid West Virginians every day. Through legislation, we’re going to help make sure our valued volunteer fire departments continue to serve our communities while remaining safe and properly insured. These measures contribute to the safety and security of all West Virginians.
I’ve also remained committed to job creation and economic development. West Virginia has a strong history in manufacturing and mining and a number of unused industrial sites have great potential for future development. With the passage of my proposed land stewardship corporation act, we will put valuable, available pieces of land back to use. I believe through new tax credits, we can further encourage new economic development and bring about demand for new technologies that utilize our abundance of natural gas. This legislation extends tax credits to West Virginians who purchase vehicles that run on natural gas, as well as private sector companies that build qualifying infrastructure such as natural gas fueling stations. These new laws will strengthen our economy. Specifically for Morgantown, we’re giving the green light to an important project that will help alleviate traffic woes and open the door to more economic development for this quickly growing area of the state.
Again, I truly appreciate the hard work of our legislators. It was a terrific session. We worked together and made some great improvements for our state. And today, we celebrate the many great things we accomplished for the people of West Virginia.