SB Wednesday: good news for small businesses

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 12:04 PM EST
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - WVVA is helping to answer your questions about small business and personal finance. Joining us every Wed. at 5 p.m. is the Executive Director of the Development Authority of Mercer County, John O’Neal.

WVVA: John, there has been a steady stream of bad news for business and workers over the past couple of years of dealing with COVID. I understand that you have some good news to report?

O’Neal: It is true that we have reported plenty on challenges facing employers and workers. We have discussed historic high inflation rates, supply shortages, labor shortages, and disappointing jobs reports. But today we have a bit of good news to pass on. The American Tort Reform Association, which monitors legal systems in all of the states, has just announced their latest rankings of each state. For the first time ever, West Virginia has been removed from their worst category, which they call the “Judicial Hell Holes,” please excuse our language.

WVVA: Why has West Virginia been removed from this category?

O’Neal: Greg Thomas, with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, stated recently, “The governor and the legislature have made many reforms over the last five years, and the Supreme Court has stabilized and is consistent.” He also mentioned that the legislature has passed more than 30 legal reform measures during this period. Perhaps the final and most important piece occurred this year when the legislature created an Intermediate Court of Appeals, bringing West Virginia in line with 42 other states with a similar appeals court system.

WVVA: Why is this important for business and workers in our state?

O’Neal: A fair, balanced, and predictable legal system is important for many reasons. Companies that are considering an investment in West Virginia, often in the millions of dollars, need assurance that they are going to be treated fairly in court. Many jobs depend on where these companies choose to locate. Also, affordable and accessible healthcare are impacted by the legal environment. Healthcare practitioners want to be in states where they are treated fairly and not subject to astronomical liability insurance costs. Finally, a fair and balanced legal system leads to lower insurance premiums for everyone: business, workers, and consumers alike. On this good note, we at Small Business Wednesday want to wish the viewers a very Merry Christmas! We look forward to joining you again in the New Year.

WVVA: SB Wednesday will return to the 5 p.m. news Jan. 2022.

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