|Senate Judiciary discussed a strike & insert amendment for HB2581, which is also referenced to Finance. The purpose of this bill is to change the valuation, assessment, review, and appellate rights of property owners regarding valuation, classification, and taxability of real estate and personal property taxation and provide revised methodology to value oil and natural gas properties by Tax Commissioner. The bill lowers the standard for the property owner to seek relief and makes an appeal to the county commission sitting as the Board of Equalization & Review optional rather than mandatory.
Tyler County will be the most affected county at a loss of about $1.9 million, according to lead sponsor Del. Graves, who pointed out that Covid money will make up that loss this year.
Phil Reale spoke on behalf of the oil & gas industry opposing the strike & insert amendment as presented to the committee. Scott Lemley, Wetzel County Assessor, said he had trust in the tax department’s work as far as the fiscal impact and stated that various oil & gas companies are trying to recoup money based on the Supreme Court’s ruling that the legislative rule was being misinterpreted.
Acting Tax Commissioner Oby said the original bill from the House did not provide anything near a true and actual value but the com sub was much better. He was followed by a representative from Antero who was not happy with the strike & insert amendment. Vice-Chairman Weld in return spoke in favor of the strike & insert amendment giving the Tax Department rulemaking authority to address the valuation issue as an opportunity for all stakeholders to come to the table, noting that no Senator from an affected county was involved in the meetings. Senator Rucker moved to lay the bill over due to the conflicting testimony and the motion passed 8 to 7.