As the special session has wrapped up, I feel it’s time for another legislative update.
Governor Justice placed six bills on the agenda during the special session, and all six eventually passed, I voted for all but one. Calling a special session during interim meetings is a good way to avoid additional costs to taxpayers since legislators are already in town.
HB 201, which exempts military retirement benefits from state income taxes passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 95-1. I co-sponsored an amendment to exempt all retiree income from state tax, and replace the revenue with an increased tax on individuals earning $10 million per year. The Speaker of the House ruled that amendment “not germane” and it was not allowed.
HB 203, which authorizes tax credits for the rehabilitation of certified historic buildings passed the house by a vote of 91-3. This bill allows up to $30 million in tax credits per year for the rehabilitation of historic buildings for commercial use. The law limits the amount to a $10 million cap per project, to not allow a single project to consume the annual total of $30 million. It also requires $5 million be set aside for smaller projects up to $500,000 each.
HB 205, the West Virginia Jobs Act now offers more protections to West Virginia workers who are skilled, willing, and able to work on jobs created by the recent passage of the road bond. I appreciate Governor Justice for placing the Jobs Act on the agenda, and the administrations’ willingness to work with all the stakeholders to get this bill passed. The Jobs Act passed the house by a vote of 94-1.
SB 2002 will authorize the state tax department to share information with the Division of Highways to ensure that companies bidding and/or receiving work in our state are complying with our tax laws. This is another bill I applaud Governor Justice for because it no longer forces local construction companies who pay taxes and operate by the rules to compete with companies that seeks to gain a competitive advantage by not paying their fair share. The bill passed the house 91-0.
SB 2005 simply directs the state auditor to pay a $75,000 bill incurred by New River Community College that had not been previously paid.
And finally, SB 2003 authorizes Division of Highways and the West Virginia Tax Department to circumvent normal hiring practices to expedite hiring. Although I agree with the concept, I opposed this bill on the final evening of the session. My concern was that it had not been referred to a committee and had numerous questions prior to the vote. I would have preferred coming back during the next scheduled interim meetings on November 12-14 with more knowledge of how the bill will affect current employees of Highways and Tax Divisions. The bill ultimately passed the house by a vote of 59-31.
Feel free to contact me by cell phone at 304 593-5010, or email at Scott.Brewer@WVhouse.gov.
And as always, I appreciate your trust and support.
Delegate Scott Brewer
Scott Brewer represents the West Virginia House of Delegates, 13th District.