Espinosa: Pro-business ideas didn’t get fair shake

CHARLESTON – Delegate Paul Espinosa thinks that the leadership of the state House of Delegates is not giving the pro-business legislation he supports a fair hearing. As a consequence, he argues, this legislative session will end without any major changes to the business climate.

“As far as legislation that will appreciably improve our business climate here in the state or create jobs, unfortunately I have to say that I don’t think any legislation was passed that will measurably help with that,” he said this week.

Republican Delegate Paul Espinosa formerly served as president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Republican Delegate Paul Espinosa formerly served as president of
the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

“The leadership doesn’t seem to have the appetite to take on these difficult pieces of legislation,” he said, pointing in particular to a bill that would have eliminated the taxes on business equipment and inventory. “That bill did not even make a committee agenda. It got assigned to committee, but it was never on a committee agenda.”

Espinosa said he sees merit in the practice of not debating each of the 2,000-plus bills that are introduced each session in depth, particularly when only around 10 percent become law.

“Typically, the Speaker will not allow a bill to come to the floor unless the party whips have pretty much established that it has sufficient support to pass,” Espinosa said. “I do understand that approach to some extent because, as things get busier and busier later in the session, you probably don’t want to take up a lot of time with issues that are not going to pass.

“We are happy to debate the merits of a bill like that, but right now we are not even having that debate.”

Espinosa calls the tax “one of the biggest impediments to job creation” in the state. “When you look at all the states around us, that automatically makes us not competitive. We are just not competitive with surrounding states.”

“When we wanted to attract Macy’s, one of the first things we had to do was create an exception from that tax,” he said. “If this is fair for Macy’s, why isn’t it fair for everybody else?”

Espinosa said he was also disappointed by education reform – a measure that he said is vital for improving the business climate by providing a qualified work force.

While he voted for the governor’s reform bill, saying that it contained some limited positive steps, he argued that it did not go nearly far enough.

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