Business and Industry Council: tax plan won’t help business; slow down


Last week, we shared with you that the West Virginia Business and Industry Council communicated with members of the Legislature its concerns over the Governor’s tax plan to reduce the personal income tax. Here are some thoughts on other factors that may affect the bill.

Social issue bills such as those addressing abortion and gun control are potentially on the horizon for this week. They tend to create tension, and at times, grind the progress to a halt. So the Governor may decide to let his legislation sit idle and then call a special session in May or June so the legislature can focus solely on taxation.

Based on House Finance Chair Householder’s interview on Talkline Friday there may be an alternate plan. The House and Senate may be able to come to a compromise on a bill, with a longer phase out saving consumers from higher sales taxes. The Governor isn’t expected to like that, but if the House and Senate can agree, they have a Supermajority and can override a veto. However, there are 25 days to go in the 60-day session, so the clock is ticking for the legislature to come up with their own bill.


On tax plan, Justice blasts the business groups that have long supported him

“You have lobbyists circling around because no one wants to give just a little bit,” he said.

“We do not want to be run by the lobbyists,” he said a little while later.

Also, “It is a swamp overtaking us all.”

And, “You’ve got lobbyists who are chasing our legislators everywhere.”

Then, “I want you to absolutely not listen to a soul who is out trying to sell you a bill of goods.”

The Business and Industry Council represents retailers, manufacturers, gas and mining companies, contractors, auto dealers, professional services, hospitals, realtors,  foresters, beverage and beer wholesalers, telecommunication providers and more. That broad base makes it influential with West Virginia legislators.

Read the WV MetroNews Story here.

House Finance chairman open to completely changing Justice’s tax proposal

House Finance Chairman Eric Householder says Gov. Jim Justice’s tax plan is unlikely to make a committee agenda as it is.

“It will look entirely different from what the governor introduced,” Householder, R-Berkeley, said on MetroNews’ “Talkline this morning, describing a completely new bill that could be taken up by the Finance Committee.

The Finance chairman said he still needs to talk to the governor about that, alluding to a meeting this coming Wednesday.

You’re gonna see probably a committee substitute. That’s what I propose,” Householder said today. “I’m gonna meet with the governor probably next Wednesday and have a private conversation with him about which way we should go.”

Read the WV MetroNews Story here.


Consumer Protection


Committee Substitute for SB5 passed House Judiciary with no questions or discussion. It relates  to the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act and claims arising thereunder to encourage the efficient settlement of legal claims.

It provides criteria for the court to evaluate reasonable attorney’s fees and expense awards to the consumer in an action under the act.


Public Safety – Motor Vehicles


After lengthy discussion and confusion whether some of the bill’s provisions are already in law, the House Judiciary Committee sent Committee Substitute for HB2195, to a subcommitee for further exploration. The bill deals with motor vehicle crash reports, requiring the law-enforcement officer to share the owner/operator and insurance information for all the involved parties with all the other involved parties and/or their insurance agents within 24 hours of a motor vehicle crash.

The bill permits replacement or rental provisions to be expedited so victims will not be left without transportation for an extended period while accident reports are being completed. Typically, information is already being shared but when it’s not, it holds up the process of insurance claims. The bill was successfully amended to allow law enforcement officers 48 hours to share the information before it was referred to the subcommittee.


Zombie bill comes to the House


The Senate’s bill that creates the Zombie Property Remediation Act, SB42, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee Friday. The bill relates to foreclosure actions involving abandoned properties. It authorizes a municipality to petition a court in the county in which the property is located to compel a foreclosure on “vacant and abandoned property.” Counsel described it as “another tool in the toolbox” for municipalities so the property can be remediated. Criteria include a property being dilapidated, unsafe, unsanitary, and an eyesore. If the mortgagee is not doing anything, this forces the mortgage company or bank to take action when a property is in default. “The municipality is not taking the property,” counsel explained.




The purpose of HB2830, passed by House Judiciary, is to strengthen state law related to sex trafficking. The bill allows for child victims of sex trafficking to access juvenile adjudication records without a waiting period and provides for immunity from prosecution for child victims of sex trafficking. The bill further allows for the criminal liability of a person who aids, assists, or abets the trafficking of an adult or child and provides that a child victim of sex trafficking be eligible for comprehensive and specialized trauma-informed child welfare services. Finally, it allows a child victim of sex trafficking to expunge records of a juvenile delinquency adjudication.

House Judiciary originated and passed a bill that creates a new misdemeanor crime of disclosing restricted personal information with attempt to threaten, intimidate, or facilitate a crime of violence. When the person knowingly discloses this information about a grand or petit juror, informant, immediate family, etc., this would be a felony. Restricted personal information is defined in the bill and includes social security numbers, unlisted phone numbers, cell phone numbers, and/or other information being shared for the purpose of intimidation or inciting violence. Several states have passed this legislation in order to deal with issues caused by technology, counsel explained.


Public Safety – Campus Carry


11 WV University leaders sign letter to legislature concerning campus carry


Eleven presidents representing West Virginia’s public four-year colleges and universities collectively wrote a letter to the members of the legislature pleading with them to, “Please continue to allow us the ability, with the careful oversight of our governing boards, to determine whether our colleges and universities should permit deadly weapons on our campuses. This is a local decision that should be made by those who know our institutions best and embrace our mission to educate West Virginians.”

The full letter can be read here.


Education – Laws


The Senate Judiciary Committee took up SB566, relating to interpretations of school laws. Currently, the law authorizes any citizen, teacher, school official, county or state officer, to request in writing that the State Superintendent of Schools provide an interpretation of the meaning of any part of the school law or of the rules of the State Board of Education. The bill requires that any such interpretation be upheld and applied by affected entities and parties, including but not limited to the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board.

Senators Mike Caputo, Mike Romano and Richard Lindsay, all expressed concerns such as the fact the superintendent is not an attorney, he or she can overturn a decision by the Grievance Board and a current superintendent can override an interpretation by a previous superintendent.

Heather Hutchins, General Counsel for the Department of Education explained the rationale for the statute, specifically, it creates a body of interpretive law to create consistency throughout the state. It is not the intention of the department to insert itself into grievances but to ensure proper weight to the interpretations of the superintendent.

Sen. Weld quotes from a Supreme Court case discussing an erroneous interpretation and indicates that the court’s interpretation would be controlling.

Ultimately, the committee voted to pass the bill 9-6.




Senator Manchin to host informational meetings; West Virginia counties, cities to get $677 million

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and his staff are working today on plans to assist residents, city, county and state officials in accessing the $4 billion in benefits for West Virginia that are included in the American Rescue Plan.

Manchin’s staff said the Senator will host a series of meetings for residents and officials on the ARP.

Senator Manchin is working to detail the $4 billion in direct funding secured for West Virginia and more additional funding in grants and federal programs. This funding includes $677 million for cities across West Virginia and all 55 counties that will be administered by local governments, and $1.25 billion in funding for the state of West Virginia that will be administered by the Governor and state legislature.

On Wednesday, Manchin attended a virtual roundtable with members of the West Virginia Municipal League, West Virginia Association of Counties and County Commissioners Association of West Virginia to discuss and answer questions about the direct federal funding and the benefits to West Virginia local governments.

Read more of the story from the West Virginia Press Association here.


Sine Die