Deserved or not, West Virginia has a poor reputation when it comes to business and industry, which does put a damper on the state's economy and hence, its tax revenues. For years, legislators have ignored the concerns of business. This year, House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, has tried to change that with a statewide listening tour to hear out businesses.
The first two stops were in Clarksburg and Huntington.
"We heard from a chicken farmer over in Randolph County and how certain regulations affected their business in a positive way or, alternatively, in a negative way," Miley told Shauna Johnson of MetroNews.
"We heard from a contractor who talked about the competition from firms who open up under one name, file bankruptcy and reopen under another name and asked that we address that issue if we can. We heard from a retail music store operator who talked about the competition from online retailers that he faces."
There may or may not be much Miley or the Legislature can do about these problems. Under the Constitution, Congress controls bankruptcy law, and poultry farmers in West Virginia have primarily had problems with the Environmental Protection Agency. Likewise, the state has no control of the Internet.
But the least the state's citizen-legislators can do is listen to their fellow citizens. This is progress.
When Verizon sold its landline business to Frontier Communications, critics raised questions about Frontier's maintenance of the lines. The idea that a company would purchase an asset just to let it go to pot was absurd, but nevertheless company officials promised the Public Service Commission to spend $280 million by the end of 2013 to improve service quality and expand its broadband Internet service to at least 85 percent of its customer base by the end of 2014.
The results are in. On Jan. 31, Frontier officials reported to the PSC that the company spent $90 million more than it promised and expanded its broadband base from 62 percent of its customers to 88 percent - which surpassed its goal 11 months early.