From The Well

February 20, 2020

West Virginia Capitol Update

Day 44



House Finance advances oil and gas tax credit bills


The House of Delegates Finance Committee approved two bills Wednesday creating separate tax credits in hopes of boosting development in the natural gas industry including attracting a natural gas storage hub and an ethane cracker plant.


House Bill 4421 aims to encourage the development, transportation and use of natural gas liquids to encourage the growth of the industry in West Virginia. The Act would provide a tax credit to companies that store or transfer natural gas. The companies would pay inventory and equipment property tax to the county where they are operating, but would receive a credit in that amount that would go toward their corporate net income and personal income taxes.


In the committee’s afternoon meeting, members passed a second tax credit bill for natural gas. HB 4019, called the Downstream Natural Gas Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit Act of 2020.


The bill allows taxpayers to take a credit against the portion of state income taxes that come from investment in a new or expanded downstream natural gas manufacturing facility. However, that facility must create at least five new jobs in order for a 10 percent tax credit to be claimed.


Both bills were advanced by the committee and now go to the full House for consideration.



Senate rejects bill to end greyhound subsidies
Senate President Mitch Carmichael left the dais to speak to SB285, which he sponsored, from the floor. He pointed out that other states are doing away with dog racing, there are those who question whether it should continue because of injuries to the dogs and he pointed out that West Virginia needs to spend the money on other priorities.


Several Republicans joined the Democrats to defeat the bill 11-23.

Watch President Carmichael’s remarks on WV Public Broadcasting’s Legislature Today.


House Finance creates personal income tax credit for volunteer firefighters


The Finance Committee also advanced House Bill 4558, which would create a new personal income tax credit for volunteer firefighters. The committee substitute changed the amount of credits per year from $5,000 to $1,000, $2,000 for a married couple, and made the credit nonrefundable.

The credit would be allowed for volunteer firefighters after December 31, 2022.


Another bill that advanced out of committee Wednesday was House Bill 4409, which transfers the remaining funds out of the Volunteer Fire Department Workers’ Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund to the Fire Service Equipment and Training Fund, and the State Auditor’s Chief Inspector’s Fund to defray costs incurred from audits


Counsel explained that funds come from insurance premiums taxes and for the past seven years, money was diverted from the Fire Protection Fund into a subsidy fund, which is ending June 30.

All three bills now head to the full House for consideration.


Busy House Judiciary assigns PSC oversight of electric utility broadband fiber plans


House Judiciary began a busy agenda with Committee Substitute for HB 4485, the reorganization bill for the Department of Military Affairs & Public Safety (DMAPS) that is the same or similar to SB 586 that is currently moving in the Senate. Counsel began with a brief history of how DMAPS came to be in Governor Caperton’s administration when he created the Cabinet Secretary positions.


As with SB 586, other bills have been rolled into this committee substitute to avoid code conflicts including HB 4644, separating the Fire Marshal from the Fire Commission, and HB 4401, reorganizing the Resiliency Office and moving it from the Dept. of Commerce to the Governor’s Office. National flood insurance will be placed in the office of the Insurance Commissioner. There were no questions or discussion and the bill passed quickly.


Committee Substitute for HB 4619 authorizes the Public Service Commission to approve plans proposed by electric utilities to install middle-mile broadband fiber and provide expedited cost recovery.


Counsel explained that this bill follows a pilot project last year that authorized an electric utility to lease fiber to internet service providers.


PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane explained that the bill makes it clear that electric utilities are not a telephone utility when they provide the fiber. The electric company works out a lease agreement with the internet provider. Internet service providers are not regulated by the PSC. The bill passed and will go to the full House.


The committee quickly passed HB 4396 that adds a new section relating generally to the Commission on Special Investigations and the State Auditor being informed of fraud and misappropriations by county and municipal governments. The information or allegation ,must be presented in writing to the county prosecutor’s office, the Legislature’s Commission on Special Investigations, and the State Auditor.


In a discussion lasting over two hours, House Judiciary took up an originating bill based on HB 4837 which would          eliminate the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for failure to pay court fines and costs. The main goal of the originating bill is mandating a payment plan in order to stop suspending drivers’ licenses. WV currently has over 120,000 suspended licenses in the state, according to counsel. “This has become a criminal justice crisis across the country,” said Delegate Hamrick. This particular bill is based on legislation from several other states that is working.


Current code allows for a payment plan but it is more complex and is not being used. The bill sets up procedure for payment plans and in case of default, authorizes the circuit clerk to record a judgment lien for unpaid fines and costs and establishes a late fee.  The debt could also be sent to a collection agency or attorney. The person can still drive on a valid license as long as they are making payments.



Higher education funding formula required by October in originating House bill


The House Education Committee originated a bill Wednesday that requires the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Community and Technical Colleges, all baccalaureate institutions to collaborate to determine a funding formula by the end of October so the legislature can introduce a bill in the 2021 legislative session. Although the last day to introduce bills in the House was last week, bills originated within a committee can still be considered by the body.



Health care-related provider tax passes Senate


The legislature has been attempting to impose a provider tax on managed care organizations for at least the past couple of years. SB719 imposes a health care provider tax on certain organizations.The tax is estimated to generate $40 million a year. The problem is that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services haven’t yet approved the tax. This bill extends the deadlines and changes some of the tax projections in the bill.


The bill passed the Senate 34-0. It is effective July 01, 2020. The bill now goes to the House.


Giving hospitals exemptions from inspections and relaxing board composition requirements


SB 767 allows hospitals to apply for one-year exemptions from routine inspections by the Office of Health Facilities Licensure and Certification in the Department of Health and Human Resources by submitting evidence of accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care, the American Osteopathic Association, or any accrediting organization approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


The bill removes an early 1980s provision in the law requiring at least 40 percent of the members of a hospital board of directors “be composed of an equal portion of consumer representatives from each of the following four categories: Small businesses, organized labor, elderly persons and persons whose income is less than the national median income. Special consideration shall be made to select women, racial minorities and handicapped persons.”


While the two provisions may seem unrelated, thereby creating a constitutional problem with the bill, the Senate Health and Human Resources attorney explained that hospitals not meeting the board requirements can be cited by OHFLAC and required to submit a plan of correction.


The bill passed the Senate 34-0. It now goes to the House.



Activity Calendar

The following organizations will have displays at the Capitol this week.


Thur. Feb. 20

History Day


Fri. Feb. 21




WV Legislature
Legislature Live


Meeting Notices
Proposed Rules


Legislative Wrap-up
Some information in this update is collected from the WV Legislature’s Daily/Weekly Blogs.



Hartman Harman Cosco, Public Policy Strategists, LLC, (H2C) is a strategically assembled bipartisan lobbying firm comprised of legal, communications and policy professionals. H2C possesses the insight and intuition that only comes from decades of hands on experience leading community and statewide initiatives.


Scott Cosco

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