March 31 Legislative Update


Today marks the 52nd day of 60-day West Virginia Regular Legislative Session. The Charleston Chamber continues to monitor legislation that impacts businesses throughout the state.

“Crossover Day” has come and gone; and now only bills that passed one chamber of the legislature are in play. However, that does not mean that old bills are dead as they may be amended into bills that are still alive provided they do not violate the “single object” rule contained within the state’s constitution.

The session ends on Saturday, April 8 at midnight. Bills will likely need to be read a first time on the floor by Thursday, April 6 to ensure three full days of reading. The bills may still be being worked on in committee during this process.

The following is a summary of some of the legislative action the Chamber is monitoring:

SB 238 would increase the tax credits allowed for rehabilitation of certified historic structures from 10 percent to 25 percent of rehabilitation expenditures. The full Senate unanimously passed the State Historic Tax Credit Increase, SB 238, this week. This legislation increases West Virginia’s income-producing historic tax credit from a 10 percent historic rehabilitation tax credit to 25 percent, making downtowns of all sizes desirable places to live and work. We are supporting the Revitalize West Virginia Downtown Coalition to get the bill through committee in the House and voted on by the full House of Delegates by midnight on April 8. The bill is currently in the House Finance Committee.

SB 76, known as the “WV Second Chance for Employment Act,” provides a procedure for the expungement for certain nonviolent felony and misdemeanor convictions. The bill exempts certain convictions from eligibility, including: crimes causing serious bodily injury; use of deadly weapons; certain assaults and batteries; domestic violence; sexual offenses; and drug offenses involving minor children. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

SB 38 would create a tax credit for new businesses locating on post-mine sites. Businesses would be allowed a 50 percent tax credit against capital expenditures for five years if the business has its principal place of business on a post-mine site and employs a minimum of 10 full-time employees. The bill is currently in the House Finance Committee.

HB 2548 is of special interest to our restaurant, bar and entertainment community. The bill, quite simply, would remove a state restriction against playing music or other broadcasts through outdoor speakers at licensed establishments. Local noise ordinances and nuisance laws would still apply. This bill is commonsense legislation that allows businesses to be creative and attractive, especially for outdoor dining opportunities. The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. We thank you for your efforts moving this bill out of the House and we encourage you to contact your local legislators in the Senate to help this bill continue on its course.

SB 477 is a Governor’s bill intended to increase revenues to the State Road Fund by raising Division of Motor Vehicle administrative fees and motor fuel excise taxes, including titling, registration, driver licensing, identification card issuance and abstract fees. This bill increases the flat rate component of the motor fuel excise tax on motor fuel and upon each gallon equivalent of alternative fuel, as well as increases the minimum average wholesale sales price of motor fuel. The bill is currently in the House Finance Committee.

Bills of Interest and Actions by the Governor:

SB 330 provides technical corrections to the “WV Workplace Freedom Act” (Right to Work) definitions and repeals a provision regarding the Act’s statutory construction. The bill also provides for retroactive application of the changed provisions. The bill was vetoed by the Governor, however there is time for both houses to take up this bill again.

HB 2678 changes the amounts of prejudgment and post-judgment interest rates on awards in civil actions. The bill provides for the use of simple interest instead of compounding interest. Additionally, a floating mechanism is used to set the prejudgment rate based on a Federal index, and a post-judgment interest is limited to a low of four percent and a high of nine percent. This bill has been approved by the Governor and is effective January 1, 2018.