Guest column: Honored to serve you

The second session of the 81st Legislature began last week and the Legislature quickly started the legislative process of introducing legislation and discussing and debating ideas and issues in committee.

On Wednesday, January 8, both the House of Delegates and state Senate met in their respective Chambers before jointly coming together to listen to the Governor deliver his State of the State address.

Once again the message from the Governor was one of being positive and staying fiscally responsible for future generations. One highlight was that our Rainy Day fund has a balance of over $920 million, and it has helped protect and improve the state’s credit rating for over 20 years. In fact, our reserve fund is one of the healthiest in the nation.

We did not get here by accident: we got here with planning, patience and foresight, and I will continue to fight for this level of fiscal responsibility. He further went on to mention that the state has a moral obligation to continue to pay our bills on time and continue to refuse to impose financial burdens on future generations.

Once again, this year, I am honored and humbled to be serving as your representative here in Charleston. I will continue to fight for my constituents while I am here in Charleston under the Dome to pass and debate meaningful legislation that will benefit and bring good ideas to the table to improve the lives of all West Virginians.

I will once again be serving as the Chair of the Senate Labor Committee as well as the Vice Chair of the Military Committee. In addition to those duties I will be a member on the Confirmations, Energy, Industry and Mining, Finance, Government Organization and, Health and Human Resources Committees and take my position for each of these extremely seriously.

Before we even got into a legislative rhythm though, the capital city and nine counties in this region were put in a state of emergency after a dangerous chemical leaked from a storage tank by a company named Freedom Industries and reached the water supply serving roughly 300,000 customers of the West Virginia American Water company.

Customers, both residential and business, were told not to use the water flowing from their taps for any reason except for flushing and fire prevention, leaving thousands without easy access to a critical life element. Millions of gallons of water had to be shipped in from areas outside the contaminated areas to ensure people had access and I was very honored to assist along with Senator Rocky Fitzsimmons and Delegate Phil Diserio in bringing truck loads of water and supplies from communities in our area.

In times of crises, I truly believe that no one comes together better than West Virginians and to see the outpouring of love and kindness from all corners of West Virginia into the nine affected counties reaffirmed that belief.

While life has not fully returned to normal in those areas, some of the water has been cleared for re-use. Now it is time to determine what exactly caused this disaster, how it can be prevented and what can be done to ensure the water is once again safe and will remain safe to use. We need to look at every avenue to see what was missed, what regulations were ignored or not enforced properly and what potentially can be changed to prevent future disaster like this.

If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues on any other pieces of legislation when they come before the Legislature, feel free to contact me here at my Charleston office. My address is: Senato Jack Yost, State Capitol Complex, Building 1, Room 214W, Charleston, WV 25305. My telephone number is (304) 357-7984 and my secretary is Wanda Casto. When calling the toll free number 1-877-565-3447, ask to be transferred. I encourage all my constituents to remain active and become part of the legislative process. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Yost, a Democrat from Wellsburg, represents the 1st Senatorial District in the West Virginia Legislature)