House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, is confident the future of economic growth in West Virginia relies heavily on the success of small businesses and entrepreneurship.
He plans to create new House committees and a statewide listening tour so lawmakers can learn what makes small businesses thrive and pass laws that ensure others can follow their example, Miley said Wednesday during a press conference in the state Capitol.
"We often times talk the talk down here in Charleston, but rarely do we walk the walk when it comes to creating jobs," Miley said.
"So many people talk about job creation and job growth, yet they don't do much in the way of pursuing any agenda items or committee-focused matters to accomplish that goal."
That's going to change leading up to and during the 2014 legislative session, Miley said.
In January he plans to propose splitting up the Energy, Industry & Labor, Economic Development & Small Business committee into smaller groups.
He wants a committee focused on small business and entrepreneurship and economic development. Another could then concentrate on energy and natural resources, while a third would handle industry and labor.
The current committee is a minor committee-as opposed to a major committee, like education or finance. Minor committees meet once a week during session, leaving the potential for only eight total meetings all session.
With the committee topics pared down, legislators will have more time to focus on each individual issue, Miley said after the announcement.
Committees can only be created during session. In the meantime, Miley is creating a work group for potential future committee members to start coming up with ideas.
Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, is the chairman of the current committee and will lead the new small business and entrepreneurship and economic development work group and committee, Miley said.
The group plans to embark on a statewide "Celebration of Success" listening tour. Skaff, a small business owner, said the trip would lead to real legislation this session.
"I think it's important that we go to all areas all across West Virginia and do it as quickly as we can so this up coming session we can make meaningful and lasting legislation that will last forever," Skaff said.
In the opinion of House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, it's about time.
Although Miley and Skaff said the tour and idea for the committee are bi-partisan initiatives, Armstead took a jab at the Democrats in a statement late Wednesday.