CHARLESTON – The 66th annual meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference will bring hundreds of lawmakers and staff from 15 states to Charleston beginning Saturday as West Virginia hosts the annual event for the first time in 15 years.
“I am extremely proud to welcome participants and their families to West Virginia,” said House Speaker Rick Thompson, who as Chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference provides the location for the four-day annual meeting.
“This conference will include a wide variety of programs and seminars on issues of importance to state policymakers, and at the same time provide several opportunities for informal meetings among colleagues from other states. It’s a great way for us to collaborate on common challenges and solutions.
“Just as importantly, this event gives us a chance to showcase our capital city and the entire state,” the Speaker added.
Each day is filled with meetings on policies related to economic development, education, fiscal management, agriculture and energy and the environment. (The agenda subjects can be viewed at http://www.slcatlanta.org/WV2012/program.shtml by clicking on each committee.)
Some seminars are conducted by lawmakers and officials from other states, as well as from representatives national groups, such as the U.S. Chamber and the Council of State Governments.
In addition, our own state experts are also going to educate attendees about many of West Virginia’s success stories – through both lectures and tours of facilities such as Toyota Manufacturing and both underground and surface mines.
Charleston native Jennifer Garner will join Mark Kennedy Shriver in giving a lecture on their program Save the Children. Author Homer Hickam will speak as well.
Outside of those meetings, there will be recreational tours to key sites of the Hatfield and McCoy feud, Blennerhassett Museum and Park, The Greenbrier, and Blenko Glass Factory. Visitors will get a chance to white water raft, zip line or take a catwalk tour of the New River Gorge Bridge.
There will also be plenty of entertainment in Charleston.
The conference kicks off Saturday evening with fireworks at the Capitol (which is open to the public). There will be a family night at the West Virginia Power Park and visits to the Clay Center. On the last evening, Landau Eugene Murphy will perform for the conferees. (To view all the social events, go to http://slc.wvlegislature.gov/ .)
Attendees are also invited to gather Sunday morning to help assemble 20,000 meals which will be distributed to families in West Virginia. The packaged meals will be distributed to the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Huntington Area Food Bank. (A separate press release with details of this event will follow.)
Senate President Jeff Kessler is Co-Chair of the Host Committee that has worked to put together all the events, which are being coordinated by SLC staff and legislative staff volunteers.
"I am honored to welcome the members of the Southern Legislative Conference to West Virginia," Kessler said. "Attendees will have the opportunity to explore, learn and experience all West Virginia has to offer. It is my hope that the time spent in West Virginia will leave a lasting impression of a warm and vibrant place to visit."
The times and location of each meeting will be available starting 7:30 am Saturday at an information booth in the lobby of the Charleston Marriott, or by contacting House Communications Director Stacey Ruckle (304-553-2833, email@example.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. )
Most participants are expected to arrive Saturday and register at the Marriott. Workshops will be conducted for staff participants at the State Capitol starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, and members of the SLC Executive Committee are scheduled to meet 3 p.m. Saturday at the Marriott. A full day of SLC committee meetings begins 8 a.m. Sunday.