Kanawha delegates Capito, Young reflect on beginning of regular session

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 2022 regular legislative session was kicked off with a bang on Wednesday and local lawmakers are excited. Moments before and after sessions were gaveled in at the state Capitol, two major economic projects were announced.

Wednesday morning, state officials announced that all-electric, zero-emission school buses will be manufactured in South Charleston by GreenPower Motor Company. The Canadian-based company signed an agreement with West Virginia to lease and purchase a 9.5-acre manufacturing facility, including an 80,000-square-foot building, where the company will produce the buses.

Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, 35, was at the announcement and told 580-WCHS it sends a message about the Mountain State.

“It says that not only is West Virginia open for business but West Virginia is committed to creating good sustainable jobs and next-generation jobs,” he said.

MetroNews has reported that the operation will bring up to 200 new jobs to the state when manufacturing begins later this year, with the potential workforce to eventually reach up to 900 new jobs when full production is reached in 24 months.

Delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, 35, was also in attendance and told 580-WCHS she welcomes the company to her district with open arms.

“Not only is it great for the environment, but it’s also great for kids. Because the air quality isn’t great with the current buses so it’s exciting to get environmentally friendly, safe school buses for kids,” Young said.

Later in the day Wednesday, North Carolina-based Nucor Corp. made it official that it selected Mason County as the location for a state-of-the-art sheet steel mill. The $2.7 billion investment is the largest such investment in state history, state officials said. Nucor noted it was the largest single investment it has ever made.

“I can’t remember a time when we kicked off the session with this much excitement,” Capito said.

Capito said the announcements have been the result of difficult past legislative sessions, where building blocks such as regulatory, legal and tax reform blocks were put into place.

He said his goals are to grow small businesses in the state with incentives and barriers for people to move and start here. He also said developing a ‘next-generation economy’ should be a must be opening the cryptocurrency movement, look at opportunities for rare earth, and look at how the state can domesticate products that it relies on heavily from international countries.

“We need to view pieces of legislation with an eye toward and question how does a piece of legislation grow West Virginia, how does this piece of legislation retain West Virginians and how does this piece of legislation attract people to want to come to West Virginia,” he said.

Young, who is going into her second regular session as a delegate, told 580-WCHS she is going to continue to focus on clean energy and diversifying the state’s economy.

“I think there is a lot we can do together. Energy is one thing. Last year, we passed a big solar bill and this year hopefully we can expand that a little more. We’re working on repealing the ban on nuclear power which is another clean energy initiative,” she said.

Young continues to be a proponent of child care and paid leave reform in the state, which she said would impact the economy greatly.

“These are two things that we can do to bring people to West Virginia and have people stay in West Virginia. They are great opportunities to help and employers and employees,” Young said.