Southern West Virginia lawmakers share their legislative priorities for 2022

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Lawmakers are off to a busy start for the 2022 legislative session and representatives from Southern West Virginia share common goals for how they hope to improve life for people in the region.

One of those goal is expanding broadband access into remote areas of the county and ensuring consumer protections for broadband users. Raleigh County Delegate Mick Bates said he wants to make sure customers do not experience the same issues they have had with internet companies like Suddenlink. He plans to support a new version of a consumer protections bill that did not make it through the legislative process in 2021.

“We are going to tighten up and make it even stronger than it was before because people have got problems with pricing, with the fact that their bills go up all the time without them really knowing or having any control over it,” Bates said. “They have got problems with customer service or the lack of customer service and poor service, quality issues, you are paying a lot of money for this service and you are not getting what you need to.”

Senator Stephen Baldwin said broadband is the key to bringing new jobs and people to the Mountain State.

“Young people like being able to work from home, at least on occasion, they like to be able to live in a place where there are outdoor recreational opportunities and West Virginia has a lot going for it but what we lack, in terms of what we need, is broadband, especially affordable broadband,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin and Bates are taking it a step further when it comes to young people in the state. Bates said he wants to see more funding for classroom aids and special education programs in schools. Baldwin wants to see changes in the Mountain State’s Child Protective Services operations. He said there is a 70-percent job vacancy for CPS jobs in Greenbrier County and he wants to see changes that will keep young West Virginians in the state.

“I think that has an impact,” Baldwin said. “If you are a kid growing up around here and you do not feel like your needs were met or you were paid attention to or the community cared about you, then you are not going to stay and so, I think that has got to change.”

Baldwin and Bates said they both plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks.

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