CHARLESTON--Monday evening a public forum, chaired by Delegate Charlene Marshall (D-Monongalia), was held to discuss House Bill 2161, which would create the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs.
“The primary objective of creating the Office of Minority Affairs is to have a place where research and data are collected,” Delegate Marshall stated. “This office will add to the economic vitality of the state and act as a support system for minority-owned businesses.”
Other objectives and responsibilities of this office would be to provide a forum for the state’s minorities. The office would provide recommendations to the governor and the Legislature regarding the most appropriate means to administer programs and services to support minority groups. Additionally, members anticipate acquiring grants, loans and loan guaranties for minority affairs programs and activities in West Virginia.
The Interim Committee on Minority Issues has pushed for this bill over the past few years and continues to bring it to the forefront. Delegate Clif Moore (D-McDowell) and Delegate Meshea Poore (D-Kanawha) were both present at Monday’s hearing and spoke in support of the bill.
Delegate Moore explained that in the past he was told it was simply not economically possible for the state to establish the office at that time.
There is a $300,000 fiscal note, which would be just enough money to get a body in the office and get things started. However, Moore stated, “This is not new money, it is a redistribution of existing dollars.” The committee is also seeking federal funding to create and expand the scope of the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs.
Delegate Poore said that the office will provide the state with the opportunity for job creation, as well as, a safe and trusted resource for the state’s minorities.
“The Office of Minority Affairs will be used as an umbrella institution to make sure minority-owned businesses are taken care of and not ignored,” Poore said. “[The office] will make our state’s industries more desirable to outside companies and will allow for West Virginia to grow as a state.”
The House Finance Committee will continue to discuss this issue during the 2011 regular session.
For more information please contact Senator Foster at (304) 357-7831 or Delegate Moore at (304) 340-3189.