WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Lawmakers from the Northern Panhandle are gearing up for West Virginia’s next legislative session. 

The session is not the time for planning, it’s the time for executing. It will be State Senator Owens Brown’s first time voting on our behalf, and State Senator Ryan Weld is ready to bring to light new privacy laws.

Starting with Governor Jim Justice’s plan to give a five percent pay increase to West Virginia state employees, what do the senators think?

“I think it’s important to attract and retain individuals to work in the government that serves West Virginia.” 

Sen. Ryan Weld, (R) West Virginia District 1

“It’s not enough.” 

Sen. Owens Brown, (D) West Virginia District 1 

Both senators say we need to keep a regional perspective. Look around. Their district falls right between Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Brown is calling for higher salaries for the over 20,000 educators in the state. He says we’re losing population and it’s time to start coughing up a wage that competes with other states. 

“A lot of the country thinks West Virginia is inundated with drugs and bad schools. And we have to change that image of West Virginia somehow.” 

Sen. Owens Brown, (D) West Virginia District 1 

Both senators have taxes on their mind.  

“Tax cuts in certain areas I’ll probably be voting yes on,” said Brown. “It depends on how it’s targeted.” 

“States so close to us with different tax schemes, so making sure we’re not doing something to disadvantage employers here but also individuals,” said Weld.

In addition, Weld plans to fight for legislation that further protects the identities of victims of sexual assault in public record.  

“Part of the problem, as a former prosecutor, that I saw in sexual assault cases is that victims oftentimes when the details were released in the media, or made public, that they were victimized twice.” 

Sen. Ryan Weld, (R) West Virginia District 1

The 60-day session starts on the 12th and as you can hear from these two, this only scratches the surface of what will be on the agenda.