West Virginia Legislative Brief for 2/21/20

By: L. Gil White

Published: February 21, 2020

Welcome to the 2020 Legislative Brief, your one-stop shop for legislative news from a variety of sources throughout West Virginia, and my view of the legislative happenings on the horizon. Today marks the 45th day of the 60-Day Legislative Session.

Legislative Action by the Numbers:

1513 House bills introduced
839 Senate bills introduced
160 passed House
139 passed Senate
48 bills completed legislative action (25 House bills, 23 Senate bills)
11 bills signed into law by the Governor
10 bills pending the Governor’s signature

My View from the Capitol

We are officially in crunch time. With only 15 legislative days remaining, and all Senate and House bills introduced (except for supplemental appropriations or bills originating in committee), the remaining days will be long with split sessions starting on Monday in both chambers, and expected lengthy committee meetings.

As predicted last week, the Senate rolled out their version of the phase-out of the inventory tax (SJR 9) as well as a companion bill intended to reduce the tax on vehicles (SB 837) as well as attempt to back fill the estimated $100 million shortfall. Supporters are aiming to boost manufacturing investment in West Virginia by cutting inventory and machinery taxes for companies. Inventory taxes on retailers would also be cut under the proposal. This would be a six year phase-out if enacted.

The proposal would also cut personal property taxes on vehicles. Cutting these taxes would require a constitutional amendment. The companion piece of legislation would raise the sales tax from 6% to 6.5%. In addition, it would increase the tobacco tax 80 cents per pack on cigarettes and other tobacco and vaping products.

On a final note, earlier this month members of Steptoe & Johnson’s Energy, Environmental, Government Relations, Litigation, and Private Financing and Securities teams attended the 26th Annual NAPE expo in Houston, Texas. In addition to a strong showing from our West Virginia offices, Steptoe & Johnson also had attendees from our Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, and Colorado offices. Steptoe & Johnson continues to increase its footprint in the energy sector throughout the nation. Sharon Flanery, Energy and Natural Resources Department Chair, led the delegation.

Legislative Calendar – Important Days to Remember

First Day – January 8

20th Day – January 27 – Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review Bills Due

35th Day – February 11 – Last day to introduce bills in the House

41st Day – February 17 – Last day to introduce bills in the Senate

47th Day – February 23 – Bills due out of committee in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings

50th Day – February 26 – Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin. Does not apply to the budget bill or supplemental appropriation bills.

60th Day – March 7 – Adjournment at midnight

News From Around the State

Justice seeks solutions for Fairmont hospital while House approves measure to investigate owner Alecto 

Gov. Justice meets with Fairmont Regional Medical Center officials to discuss hospital’s future

EPA shows decline in power plant emissions, proposes new coal ash rule

House takes tax credit route in hopes of spurring natural gas development

Senate, too, moves bill providing tax breaks for aging, struggling coal-fired power plants

Permit applications in from potential medical marijuana labs, dispensaries, processors and growers

Move to eliminate funding for W.Va. greyhound racing wipes out in final turn

Foster care bill passes House, prompting anticipation of how Senate might view $16 million cost

Fairmont Regional Medical Center closing

Tax overhaul package heads to full Senate for consideration

Struggles likely to continue for West Virginia hospitals

Judicial pay raise bill passes Senate 29-3

Solar bill heads to House as utilities await its fate

Senate moving bill calling for non-partisan election of prosecutors

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