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Recap of 2016 Legislative Session

With the legislature adjourned sine die (or without assigning a day for further meeting for those needing all state business to be conducted in English,) now’s a good time to look back at some of the bills made into law this past session. Here’s a quick recap of some of the major bills passed by the legislature, as well as some smaller bills with a fiscal impact. Notable exceptions to the list include the budget, which the legislature adjourned without passing, which means the governor will have to call them back into a special session to work on the budget.

  • SB 1  created a Right to Work law in West Virginia, which prohibits unions and employers from including a provision in contracts that requires employees who benefit from union representation to pay for their share toward those costs. Despite promises, it is unlikely that Right to Work will grow West Virginia’s economy.
  • SB 6 sets up a pilot program to drug test TANF recipients. While such programs are sold as a way to address substance abuse and save the state money, they have largely failed to achieve either goal.
  • SB 293 reauthorizes the Neighborhood Investment Act, which allows designated charitable organizations to apply for tax credit vouchers, which they can distribute to businesses and individuals who contribute to them. The voucher can total up to $3 million in tax credits.
  • SB 298, or the Brunch Bill, allows local governments to hold a referendum on allowing the sale of alcohol by certain retailers before 10:00 am on Sundays.
  • SB 419 will expire the Workers Comp Tax on coal and natural gas, once the liability in the Workers Comp Debt Fund is determined to be met.
  • SB 558 allows the governor to borrow up to $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund in order to maintain the solvency of Unemployment Compensation Fund.
  • SB 582 provides a refundable tax credit for motor fuel sold for use or consumed in railroad diesel locomotives. The credit is limited to $4.3 million.
  • SB 619 requires sunset provisions for all future regulatory rules and requires economic impact statements and other information to be submitted along with proposed rules. The Department of Administration was unable to determine the bill’s fiscal impact.
  • HB 2110 clarifies that the manufacturing investment tax credit and special valuation for capital additions applies to small arms manufacturing, as well as lowers the minimum capital investment requirement for salvage valuation treatment from $50 million to $1 million for small arms manufacturers. According to the Tax Department, the bill has a minimum fiscal impact, due to the lack of small arms manufacturers located in WV.
  • HB 2897, the Young Entrepreneur Reinvestment Act, exempts individuals under 35 years old from paying the initial filing fee of $100 for a new business and the $25 annual filing fee for two years. The lost revenue would equal about $250,000.
  • HB 4005 repeals the state’s Prevailing Wage, which is the minimum wage paid to construction workers on state-funded projects. After much debate, the bill was passed without a fiscal note, despite its intention to save the state money. Research suggests, however, that there will not be any significant savings.
  • HB 4009 gives county commissions the authority to submit road and bridge construction projects to the Commissioner of Highways, and authorizes county commissions to impose a county transportation sales and service tax and a county use tax, up to 1%, to finance the construction.
  • HB 4013 enacts a Voter ID law, requiring voters to show a form of ID before they can vote. While the bill is considerably weaker than Voter ID laws in other states, it addresses a problem, voter impersonation, that is exceedingly rare, and Voter ID laws in general have been shown to reduce turnout among minorities.
  • HB 4145 allows individuals to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, but also includes a tax credit of up to $50 for the cost of a concealed weapon safety course. According to the Tax Department, the tax credit could cost up to $1.5 million.
  • HB 4334 gives advance practice registered nurses more authority to provide healthcare services.
  • HB 4377 eliminates the exemption from hotel occupancy taxes on rental of hotel and motel rooms for thirty or more consecutive days. The bill was passed without a fiscal note.
  • HB 4612 allows counties and municipalities to finance road construction projects with Tax Increment Financing districts.

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