The 2017 Regular Legislative Session promises to be filled with challenges, excitement, intensity and suspense . . . fueled by the commitment and tireless efforts of our dedicated public servants “Under the Dome.” Visit us for weekly updates.
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Note: all updates in BOLD.
The 83rd legislative session started on February 8, with Governor Jim Justice proposing $450 million in tax increases and about $26 million in budget cuts. The primary tax increase would be 0.2 percent on gross receipts on businesses; this would raise approximately $215 million. Other increases include the toll charge on the West Virginia Turnpike, eliminating tax exemptions for professional services, and raising the consumer sales tax by ½ percent. Additional money would be raised by adding 10 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and increased DMV fees.
Governor Justice said failure to implement tax increases would require elimination of the Promise Scholarship Program, and funding for most state colleges, senior services, public libraries, and other programs. The current budget year problems would be fixed with withdrawal of $125 million from the Rainy Day Fund.
Certainly many important decisions face our elected leaders. Governor Justice also wants to raise $225 million for infrastructure improvements to be leveraged as bonds. Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson Co.) has been named as President of the Senate, and Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha Co.) as Speaker of the House. Major and Minor Committee assignments have been made, and leadership/chair positions include the following appointments:
West Virginia Senate
West Virginia House of Delegates
The following bills were introduced February 13-17:
SB 244 By Senators Blair, Mullins, Cline, and Carmichael (Senate President). Bill amends and reenacts 37-7-2 of the West Virginia Code. Allows for joint development of gas reserves by horizontal drilling where multiple contiguous leases are developed. Bill gives gas operators use of any surface tract overlying the jointly developed lease and provides for majority co-tenants and deductions. Single referenced to Judiciary. Two stakeholders’ meetings held with no consensus reached. WVFB opposes.
SB 245 By Senator Blair. Permits natural gas companies to enter private property without prior consent from owner for limited purposes to obtain data to comply with regulatory requirements. Single referenced to Judiciary. Companion bill HB 2688 sent to House Energy. WVFB monitoring.
SB 278 By Senators Beach, Boso, Cline, Gaunch, Ojeda, Romano, Smith, Stollings, Takubo, Weld, Woelfel, Plymale, Maroney, and Blair. Removes restrictions on Sunday hunting and voids results of any county ballot measure prohibiting Sunday hunting. Permits Sunday hunting on private property throughout the state with written consent from landowner. Similar to HB 2136 and HB 2152. Sent to Natural Resources. Similar bill SB 345, committee substitute passed. Sent to Judiciary. WVFB opposes.
SB 283 By Senator Miller. Bill cited as “The Food Production Act” that directs the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to become the central state agency to set standards and be responsible for food production safety in West Virginia. Directs the Department of Agriculture to propose rules for legislative approval and shall include at a minimum: 1. Review and consider USDA regulations. 2. Hazard Critical Control Point Concept (HACCP). 3. Establish procedures to monitor critical control points. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. WVFB monitoring.
SB 335 By Senators Karnes, Carmichael (Senate President), Maroney, Mullins, Maynard, Weld, Clements, Ferns, Cline, Smith, Sypolt, Rucker, Azinger, Swope, Blair, Gaunch, Takubo, Boso, Mann, and Trump. Sets new code that repeals consumer sales tax and personal income tax, and phase-out of corporate net income tax. Allows for enactment of general consumption tax law and temporary single-rate income tax. Sets general consumption tax at a rate of 8 cents on each dollar of sales or services, with some exemptions. Sent to Select Tax Reform. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2214 By Delegates McGeehan and Folk. Bill known as West Virginia Education Restoration Act. Bill prohibits use of Common Core academic standards and assessments. Prohibits the State Board of Education from sharing student data without parental consent. Sent to Education. Similar bills HB 2543. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2328 By Delegate Sponaugle. Purpose of bill is to exempt certain vehicles used in farming (Class X) from the tax imposed upon the privilege of affecting the certification of title of a motor vehicle. Sent to Roads & Transportation. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2451 By Delegate Sobonya. Purpose of bill is to establish a specific valuation of managed timberland, as well as non-managed timberland, for ad valorem tax purposes. Sent to Finance. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2453 By Delegates Eldridge and Butler. Purpose of bill is to expand the list of persons that the Commissioner of Agriculture may license to grow and cultivate industrial hemp. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2458 By Delegate Sobonya. Relating to exempting food prepared or processed in private homes by resident owners and sold directly to end consumers. Law would exempt owner from laws relating to food labeling and inspection of milk and milk products. Sent to Health & Human Resources. WVFB opposes.
HB 2473 By Delegate Storch. Bill provides that the assessment on an oil and gas mineral interest be based on actual amount produced during the first year and after the third year of production. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2510 By Delegates Eldridge and Hicks. Purpose of bill is to permit surface owners on whose properties natural gas producing wells are drilled, as well as surface owners on whose properties natural gas pipelines cross, to purchase gas at market rates. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2512 By Delegate McGeehan. Purpose of bill is to create a procedure to streamline the process of claiming abandoned mineral interests by surface owners. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
The following bills were introduced February 20-24:
SB 369 By Senators Sypolt, Miller, Boso, Maroney, and Smith. Permits surface owners to purchase mineral interest that lay below the property when the mineral interest becomes subject to tax lien. Bill establishes procedures and public notice requirements. Bill modifies notices to redeem that are sent to property owners. Sent to Energy, Industry, & Mining. WVFB monitoring.
SB 370 By Senators Sypolt, Facemire, Boso, Maroney, and Smith. Purpose of bill is to pay funds that are due in partition suits of oil/gas interest to persons whose names or locations are unknown and who do not claim funds for five years to the Oil & Gas Reclamation Fund for plugging of abandoned wells. Sent to Energy, Industry, & Mining. WVFB monitoring.
SB 384 By Senator Boso. Purpose of bill is to exclude from the definition of managed timberland any tract that is leased to another party for monetary gain and is not considered managed timber. Sent to Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
SB 396 By Senators Sypolt, Azinger, Blair, Boso, Smith, and Swope. Relates to how minerals are to be valued in eminent domain actions. Sent to Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2553 By Delegates Summers and Evans. Provides an exemption from consumer sales tax and use tax for sales and services of tangible personal property relating to the activity of raising and training livestock, including horses. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2566 By Delegates Thompson, Evans, and Baldwin. This bill, referenced as West Virginia Fresh Food Act, requires all state-funded institutions to purchase a minimum of 20 percent of their fresh produce from in-state vendors. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
All bills introduced may be found at www.legis.state.wv.us.