Senator Cole speaks at Lincoln Day
West Virginia Senate President Senator Bill Cole told those at Saturday’s Tyler County Lincoln Day Dinner that the recent legislative session was one of the most productive in decades.
It was the first session under a Republican majority in 83 years.
For that he thanked those in attendance for the part they played in bringing change to West Virginia. That was met with applause by those at the dinner.
“I think our legislature delivered more in that 60-day session than the past 10-20 years,” Cole proclaimed.
He went through an explanation of some of the matters the legislature passed, saying it was more substantive than even the numbers might reflect.
They fixed unintended consequences to the aboveground storage tank changes that were enacted last year when the legislature was in the throes of the Freedom Industries water contamination crisis.
“It was ridiculous, the overreach that happened,” Cole said of that original bill. The number of tanks regulated by the rule was decreased from 50,000 to 7,500, which he asserted was more reasonable and manageable.
It no longer affected small farming operations that posed no danger.
While it may not be an issue that grabs headlines, Cole said the tort reform enacted was very important. Most people don’t understand the issue, but he said it is critical for economic growth. “We just became average as far as tort reform goes,” said Cole who noted they compared West Virginia’s litigation laws to those of other states in order to find a desirable average.
They “rolled back Joe Manchin’s nutty cap and trade deal,” said Cole, who claimed that original legislation was Manchin’s ticket to Washington, D.C.
They took on prevailing wage, saving taxpayers millions.
They ended straight-ticket voting, even though most recently the method benefitted Republicans.
“It was the right thing to do,” said Cole.
The Senate President said, “We passed 14 of our identified top 15 bills.” Taking on any two or three of those issues, asserted Cole, would have been a lot for past legislatures.
The failure was the charter schools issue. “I think it’s one small piece of doing something,” said Cole. “We need to do something. If we’re going to move our kids out of 47th place academically, we need to do something.”
He further informed the crowd that he needed to dispel a rumor that his is a supporter of Common Core. He is not.
“We’ll get it right,” promised Cole of education reform.
“We’ll take it up in interims. I promise you, it is on the top of my list.”
Finally, Cole talked a bit about political compromise. “Compromise is the way our country truly go great,” he explained. Now there is little or no compromise Washington, D.C., and the nation is going downhill.
He said the Republicans need to use their newfound power in West Virginia wisely.
“We can be the new bullies,” he explained, “but how does that make us any better than the guys we replaced?”
Further, compromise is also a viable political strategy. “We need to appeal to the moderate Democrats and the independent voters if we ever want to get elected,” said Cole.
At the end of the evening, it was noted that this year, instead of a formal dinner, Ritchie County Republicans are holding a picnic at North Bend State Park on Aug. 2, 2-4 p.m. All are invited to attend.