The Charleston Gazette-Mail published this editorial on Feb. 3 regarding West Virginia’s renewable energy sector:

It’s going to take a lot to turn West Virginia’s economy around. No one thing is going to do it.

Just ask Mike Graney, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, charged with recruiting and growing businesses in the Mountain State.

In a budget meeting with the Senate Finance Committee, Graney listed two familiar priorities for any business when looking for a location: a qualified workforce and available workforce training, two things that are improving somewhat, but could be better. He added that tax credits and other economic incentives help.

Then, a curve ball. As Phil Kabler noted in his Statehouse Beat column, Graney said the state’s lack of development pertaining to renewable energy hurts business recruiting efforts. And that’s not just Graney’s opinion.

“Not having, frankly, the solar box checked is a problem, and we’ve heard that from a lot of different companies,” he said.

Interestingly, Graney didn’t mention repealing the inventory tax, the GOP-controlled Legislature’s white whale for the 2020 session. Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch made sure to lob that out there.

Graney’s job is to bring business to West Virginia, and he’s saying the lack of a renewable energy sector is a drawback, and companies that might consider coming here are telling him this. So the Legislature, and economic development and business agencies, might want to listen.

West Virginia politicians and those driving their agendas will continue to cling to fossil fuels, no doubt. While coal continues to die its slow death, natural gas will be extracted in West Virginia for some time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean investment in renewable energy sources and creating jobs here in that market shouldn’t be pursued. The last time this state put all its eggs in one basket, it didn’t work out so well in the long run. It was ultimately bad for workers, who came away with serious health concerns and continue to be phased out of their jobs. It was bad for communities, bereft after coal companies pulled out, leaving behind crumbling infrastructure, environmental hazards and few places to find gainful employment.

While pipeline construction has helped state revenue collection in the past, it’s still fair to ask just how much the natural gas industry in West Virginia helps actual West Virginians. The answer could be quite a bit, if some plans come through. But why not go after other businesses that can create jobs and actually diversify the state’s economy in the meantime?

Better nutrition standards welcome

The Somerset (Kentucky) Commonwealth Journal published this editorial on Feb. 4 regarding a Kentucky Senate bill that would bring state child care facilities in line with federal standards:

We want to make sure our children are cared for properly.

And for parents who have to use childcare facilities, that includes making sure our kids are well fed.

These days, that doesn’t mean cookies and milk.

The Kentucky General Assembly is considering a bill that would bring state’s childcare facilities in line with USDA standards. The bill also covers adult care centers.

“Senate Bill 45 ... simply addresses childcare standards for all licensed childcare centers within the commonwealth,” Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, said while explaining SB 45 on the Senate floor this week. “These are standards that are followed by the vast majority of facilities, but this will bring all facilities under the umbrella.”

The bill passed the Senate by a 34-0 vote.

We think it’s good legislation.

Under the latest Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) nutrition standards, meals and snacks served will include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat, and will establish age-appropriate meal patterns. ...

SB 45 also includes a second nutrition provision that would set standards for sugary drinks, which is one of America’s biggest culprits in its childhood obesity dilemma, according to nutrition experts. ...

SB 45 would also require childcare centers to meet certain physical activity and screen time standards. That term is used for activities done in front of a screen, such as watching television.

In short, this bill assures us that childcare centers will provide a healthier environment for our children. ...

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