Justice turns on business community


The governor made another plea today that population growth will actually bring more business activity to the state.

Then he blasted the Chamber of Commerce, which joined the Business and Industry Council in expressing its concerns over Governor Justice’s tax plan.

“If you think you can buy into the shallowness of the Chamber of Commerce — just think about where the Chamber of Commerce has led West Virginia over the last 50 years,” he said.

“They’ve led us to dead last, dead last, dead last.”

WV MetroNews’ Brad McElhinny posted a full story about the developments here.


H2C Analysis

Meanwhile, the U.S. News and World Report has published its annual “Best States” ranking and there is some relevance to the current controversy of eliminating the state income tax.

Overall, WV is ranked 47th, based on comparisons of more than 70 factors. The state ranked 50th in infrastructure. The study found that 31% of our roads are in bad condition, compared with a national average of 20%.  We ranked 48th in economy, 47th in health care (a concern because our population is the third oldest), and 45th in education. We fared better in the rankings for natural environment, coming in at 36th.

Of note, WV ranked 8th for overall affordability of living.

In addition, WalletHub released its annual tax rankings, entitled “States with the Highest and Lowest Tax Rates.” WV has the 17th lowest state and local taxes in the U.S., at a little more than 10% below the national average. With a cost of living adjustment, WV taxes are the 12th lowest and rank significantly lower than our neighboring states.

The U.S. News and World Report found that WV does not currently have the resources to provide our citizens with programs, infrastructure, and other services that are needed and adequate  According to the National Vital Statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, we have dropped to 50th in Life Expectancy, with an average of 74.4 years, compared to the national average of 78.7 years.

The challenge facing our state leaders is improving these rankings, enticing people to move here and striking a balance between lowering taxes and balancing the budget.

Read the US News and World Report here.




Tomorrow is the last day to introduce bills in the House. The rule does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

The deadline for bills to be introduced in the Senate is next Monday, March 22.

Thus far, there have been more than 1,700 bills introduced this session, 65 bills have passed the House of Delegates, 93 bills have passed the Senate, 21 bills have completed legislation, and six bills have been signed by Gov. Jim Justice.




House Finance began its meeting with Committee Substitute for HB2499, a bill that creates a tax credit for small arms and ammunition manufacturers. Designed to stimulate economic growth in manufacturing industries it amends the definition of manufacturing and amends the formula for calculating credit allowed for manufacturing investment to include small arms ammunition manufacturing and small arms, ordinance and ordinance accessories manufacturing. The bill creates the West Virginia Tax Credit For Federal Excise Tax Imposed Upon Small Arms And Ammunition Manufacturers and exempts sales of small arms and small arms ammunition from state sales and use tax.

House Finance quickly passed HB2808 to eliminate salt produced for human consumption from being subject to mineral severance taxation.

HB2777 would repeal the municipal amusement tax. This is a discretionary tax for municipalities and they could actually repeal the tax on their own. With this bill, a municipality will not be allowed to impose the municipal amusement tax. The fiscal note from the WV Municipal League indicated that these are the only cities that currently impose the amusement tax and the expected 2021 proceeds from it:

Bath $100

Charleston $150,000

Hinton $1,200

Huntington $10,000

Morgantown $7,500

Parkersburg $150

Wheeling $11,290

The tax is on an admission price, such as a ticket for an event. Despite requests from delegates for allowing local control, the bill passed.

A second municipal tax was repealed with the passage of HB2782. It would repeal the section of code relating to domestic animal tax.  The total 2021 budgeted revenue for all 103 municipalities combined is $73,257 but there was concern that it was not clear just how much revenue was being repealed. The Deputy Director of the WV Municipal League explained that the dog tax is under a different chapter of code and is collected by the Assessor. “It’s a death by a thousand cuts,” explained the Deputy Director on taking away these discretionary means of municipalities to raise revenue. “This is a freedom bill – freedom from taxing ferrets, fish, and frogs,” said Del. Daniel Linville, R- Cabell.  Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D, Cabell, said this will take $20,000 away from the Huntington animal shelter.




House Government Organization Committee passed Committee Substitute for HB2633, a major revision of various Dept. of Agriculture code to create the 2021 Farm Bill. Among many other revisions, a new article creates the Agriculture Investment Program.

The committee also passed HB2823, which exempts buildings or structures utilized primary for agricultural purposes from the provisions of the state, county and municipal building codes and the state fire code.




House Finance passed Com Sub for HB2630 which applies to political subdivisions, requiring the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to pay back fines to political subdivisions if they make required upgrades or fixes to their communities in relation to those fines.

General counsel for DEP had some concerns about primacy, the way the federal government gives the state authority, but primacy must be earned. “Our program must be essentially the same as the federal EPA program,” DEP counsel explained. The basic principle for primacy where enforcement is involved is that we have the same requirements. He explained that what is proposed in this bill is similar to what’s currently being done by DEP. “We still have concerns that EPA may say this is a bad idea,” General Counsel explained, and EPA has expressed some concerns about it.”


Broadband Investment


The Senate concurred with the House Amendments to Committee Substitute for SB295, regarding economic development loans and loan insurance issued by state. The bill required the state Economic Development Authority to provide information to the Board of Treasury regarding the loans issued by the EDA. The bill also provides up to $20 million loan insurance to providers in a single year. The bill will be enrolled and go to the Governor for his signature.




The Engrossed Committee Substitute for HB2006 – Relating to the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Act was on second reading in the Senate Monday.

Workforce Chairman Mark Maynard, R- Wayne, explained an amendment that lowers the thresholds for residential and commercial licenses. The amendment, which passed, was requested by the Municipal Board to clarify that the prohibition on municipalities creating licenses applies only to occupational licenses.

Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, moved to amend with a clarification that residential painters do not need a license, however, Chairman Maynard said the amendment would also add commercial painters to the definition of contractor requiring a license and there is not reason to do so. Jeffries countered that commercial painters want to be considered a specialty license. Jeffries amendment failed. The bill will be on third reading Tuesday.

Engrossed Committee Substitute for HB2009 , which relates to limitations on the use of wages and agency shop fees by employers and labor organizations for political activities was also on second reading Monday.

Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, moved an amendment to ensure the bill does not interfere with fees related to collective bargaining agreements between municipalities and their employees. The amendment also synchronized one or two sections of the bill with SB272 (Relating to WV Employment Law Worker Classification Act) that recently completed legislative action.

Senator Mike Romano moved to amend the amendment by authorizing the continuation of non-political dues. Chairman Trump opposed to the amendment because it would substantially alter the intent of the bill.

Sen. Romano closed debate on his amendment by arguing that the deductions do not cost public agencies any money. Romano’s amendment was rejected by a vote of 14-20 with roll call demanded. The bill will be on third reading Tuesday.


Sine Die