The 2017 Regular Legislative Session promises to be filled with challenges, excitement, intensity and suspense . . . fueled by the commitment and tireless efforts of our dedicated public servants “Under the Dome.” Visit us for weekly updates.
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Note: all updates in BOLD.
The 83rd legislative session started on February 8, with Governor Jim Justice proposing $450 million in tax increases and about $26 million in budget cuts. The primary tax increase would be 0.2 percent on gross receipts on businesses; this would raise approximately $215 million. Other increases include the toll charge on the West Virginia Turnpike, eliminating tax exemptions for professional services, and raising the consumer sales tax by ½ percent. Additional money would be raised by adding 10 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and increased DMV fees.
Governor Justice said failure to implement tax increases would require elimination of the Promise Scholarship Program, and funding for most state colleges, senior services, public libraries, and other programs. The current budget year problems would be fixed with withdrawal of $125 million from the Rainy Day Fund.
Certainly many important decisions face our elected leaders. Governor Justice also wants to raise $225 million for infrastructure improvements to be leveraged as bonds. Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson Co.) has been named as President of the Senate, and Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha Co.) as Speaker of the House. Major and Minor Committee assignments have been made, and leadership/chair positions include the following appointments:
West Virginia Senate
West Virginia House of Delegates
The following bills were introduced February 8-10:
SB 14 By Senators Sypolt and Smith. Authorizes county commissions to add surcharge to county property tax bills of all residential property owners for service of trash collection and limiting disbursement of money collected. Sent to Government Organization Committee. WVFB monitoring.
SB 25 By Senators Karnes, Rucker, and Sypolt. Relating to the creation of farm-to-food bank tax credit for qualified taxpayers who provide free of charge edible agricultural products to a nonprofit food program operating in West Virginia. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development Committee. Sent to Finance. Passed. Sent to full Senate. Passed full Senate. Sent to House Agriculture & Natural Resources. Similar HB 2821. WVFB monitoring.
SB 26 By Senator Karnes. Provides for resident farm vendor bidding preference. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. WVFB monitoring.
SB 27 By Senators Karnes, Trump, Rucker, and Sypolt. Permits sale of home-based micro-processed foods at farmers’ markets. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. Laid over for further discussion and data collection. Sent to Health & Human Resources. Passed. Sent to full Senate. Similar bill HB 2458. WVFB monitoring.
SB 30 By Senator Karnes. Allows local governments to lower personal property tax by imposing local sales tax. Sent to Government Organization. WVFB monitoring.
SB 42 By Senator Boso. Allows certain construction for oil and gas activities pursuant to storm water permits. Sent to Energy, Industry, & Mining Committee. WVFB monitoring.
SB 43 By Senator Boso. Restricts Oil & Gas Conservation Commission’s authority to regulate setback and spacing between deep wells. Sent to Energy, Industry, & Mining. WVFB monitoring.
SB 82 By Senator Maynard. Agriculture rule relating to animal disease control. Sent to Judiciary Committee. HB 2233 companion bill sent to House Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
SB 83 By Senator Maynard. Agriculture rule relating to dangerous wild animals. Sent to Judiciary. HB 2218 companion bill sent to House Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
SB 84 By Senator Maynard. Agriculture rule relating to livestock care standards. Sent to Judiciary. HB 2219 companion bill passed House Agriculture, sent to Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
SB 85 By Senator Maynard. Agriculture rule relating to captive cervids. Sent to Judiciary. HB 2234 companion bill sent to House Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
SB 163 By Senator Maynard. Board of Veterinary Medicine rule relating to standards of practice. Sent to Judiciary. HB 2296 companion bill sent to House Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
SB 183 By Senators Blair, Sypolt, Gaunch, Rucker, and Trump. Transfers the Division of Forestry from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Agriculture. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. Held over for consideration. Passed. Sent to Senate Government Organization. Similar HB 2790. WVFB supports.
SB 229 By Senators Trump and Blair. Purpose of bill is to provide that mere addition of a mini distillery does not change the nature or use of property that otherwise qualifies as agricultural for building code and property tax classification purposes. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. WVFB monitoring.
SJR 3 By Senator Karnes. Right to Farm and Ranch Amendment. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. WVFB supports.
HB 2044 By Delegate Moye. Relating to Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, provides additional state funding to current federal program. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2131 By Delegates Folk and McGeehan. Relating to unitization of interest in drilling units connected to deep gas wells. Prohibits the state from requiring persons to involuntarily integrate their mineral interest. Requires surface owners’ consent to disturbances. Sent to Energy Committee. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2136 By Delegates Hamrick, G. Foster, Rowan, and Westfall. Allows hunting and trapping on private land on Sundays throughout the state. Similar bill (HB 2152) also introduced. Companion bills HB 2627 and HB 2642. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB opposes.
HB 2150 By Delegates McGeehan, Kelly, and Folk. Allows for year-round hunting of coyotes. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2158 By Delegates Sponaugle, Eldridge, Caputo, Fluharty, Pushkin, and Hicks. Prohibits drilling units from being established without consent of all owners. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2178 By Delegate Rodighiero. Allows for quarterly payment of real and personal property taxes. Similar bill HB 2414. Sent to Finance Committee. WVFB monitoring.
The following bills were introduced February 13-17:
SB 244 By Senators Blair, Mullins, Cline, and Carmichael (Senate President). Bill amends and reenacts 37-7-2 of the West Virginia Code. Allows for joint development of gas reserves by horizontal drilling where multiple contiguous leases are developed. Bill gives gas operators use of any surface tract overlying the jointly developed lease and provides for majority co-tenants and deductions. Single referenced to Judiciary. Three stakeholders’ meetings held with no consensus reached. WVFB opposes.
SB 245 By Senator Blair. Permits natural gas companies to enter private property without prior consent from owner for limited purposes to obtain data to comply with regulatory requirements. Single referenced to Judiciary. Companion bill HB 2688 sent to House Energy. Discussed and unanimous consent to lay over one week. WVFB monitoring.
SB 278 By Senators Beach, Boso, Cline, Gaunch, Ojeda, Romano, Smith, Stollings, Takubo, Weld, Woelfel, Plymale, Maroney, and Blair. Removes restrictions on Sunday hunting and voids results of any county ballot measure prohibiting Sunday hunting. Permits Sunday hunting on private property throughout the state with written consent from landowner. Similar to HB 2136, HB 2152, and HB 2642. Sent to Natural Resources. Similar bill SB 345, committee substitute passed. Sent to Judiciary. Passed full Senate. Sent to House. Sent to House Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB opposes.
SB 283 By Senator Miller. Bill cited as “The Food Production Act” that directs the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to become the central state agency to set standards and be responsible for food production safety in West Virginia. Directs the Department of Agriculture to propose rules for legislative approval and shall include at a minimum: 1. Review and consider USDA regulations. 2. Hazard Critical Control Point Concept (HACCP). 3. Establish procedures to monitor critical control points. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. Discussed and continued until next week. WVFB monitoring.
SB 335 By Senators Karnes, Carmichael (Senate President), Maroney, Mullins, Maynard, Weld, Clements, Ferns, Cline, Smith, Sypolt, Rucker, Azinger, Swope, Blair, Gaunch, Takubo, Boso, Mann, and Trump. Sets new code that repeals consumer sales tax and personal income tax, and phase-out of corporate net income tax. Allows for enactment of general consumption tax law and temporary single-rate income tax. Sets general consumption tax at a rate of 8 cents on each dollar of sales or services, with some exemptions. Sent to Select Tax Reform. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2214 By Delegates McGeehan and Folk. Bill known as West Virginia Education Restoration Act. Bill prohibits use of Common Core academic standards and assessments. Prohibits the State Board of Education from sharing student data without parental consent. Sent to Education. Similar bill HB 2543. Companion SB 524 passed Senate Education. To full Senate, on second reading. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2328 By Delegate Sponaugle. Purpose of bill is to exempt certain vehicles used in farming (Class X) from the tax imposed upon the privilege of affecting the certification of title of a motor vehicle. Sent to Roads & Transportation. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2451 By Delegate Sobonya. Purpose of bill is to establish a specific valuation of managed timberland, as well as non-managed timberland, for ad valorem tax purposes. Sent to Finance. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2453 By Delegates Eldridge and Butler. Purpose of bill is to expand the list of persons that the Commissioner of Agriculture may license to grow and cultivate industrial hemp. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. Passed with amendment. Sent to Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2458 By Delegate Sobonya. Relating to exempting food prepared or processed in private homes by resident owners and sold directly to end consumers. Law would exempt owner from laws relating to food labeling and inspection of milk and milk products. Sent to Health & Human Resources. WVFB opposes.
HB 2473 By Delegate Storch. Bill provides that the assessment on an oil and gas mineral interest be based on actual amount produced during the first year and after the third year of production. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2510 By Delegates Eldridge and Hicks. Purpose of bill is to permit surface owners on whose properties natural gas producing wells are drilled, as well as surface owners on whose properties natural gas pipelines cross, to purchase gas at market rates. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2512 By Delegate McGeehan. Purpose of bill is to create a procedure to streamline the process of claiming abandoned mineral interests by surface owners. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
The following bills were introduced February 20-24:
SB 369 By Senators Sypolt, Miller, Boso, Maroney, and Smith. Permits surface owners to purchase mineral interest that lay below the property when the mineral interest becomes subject to tax lien. Bill establishes procedures and public notice requirements. Bill modifies notices to redeem that are sent to property owners. Sent to Energy, Industry, & Mining. WVFB monitoring.
SB 370 By Senators Sypolt, Facemire, Boso, Maroney, and Smith. Purpose of bill is to pay funds that are due in partition suits of oil/gas interest to persons whose names or locations are unknown and who do not claim funds for five years to the Oil & Gas Reclamation Fund for plugging of abandoned wells. Sent to Energy, Industry, & Mining. WVFB monitoring.
SB 384 By Senator Boso. Purpose of bill is to exclude from the definition of managed timberland any tract that is leased to another party for monetary gain and is not considered managed timber. Sent to Natural Resources. Similar HB 2874. WVFB monitoring.
SB 396 By Senators Sypolt, Azinger, Blair, Boso, Smith, and Swope. Relates to how minerals are to be valued in eminent domain actions. Sent to Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2553 By Delegates Summers and Evans. Provides an exemption from consumer sales tax and use tax for sales and services of tangible personal property relating to the activity of raising and training livestock, including horses. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. Amended and passed. Sent to Finance. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2566 By Delegates Thompson, Evans, and Baldwin. This bill, referenced as West Virginia Fresh Food Act, requires all state-funded institutions to purchase a minimum of 20 percent of their fresh produce from in-state vendors. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. Discussed and continued until next week. Amended and passed. Sent to Finance. WVFB monitoring.
The following bills were introduced February 27 – March 3:
SB 484 By Senators Carmichael and Prezioso. Governor’s tax bill as presented describes proposed changes to various parts of tax code. Under West Virginia Code section 11-15-8, bill provides for many exemptions, including dentists, surgeons, and other medical professionals. However, the professional services of veterinarians will be taxed. Sent to Finance. WVFB opposes this section of the bill, the tax on veterinarians.
HB 2437 By Delegates Hamrick, Summers, Cooper, C. Miller, Overington, Hamilton, Moore, Zatezalo, Frich, Atkinson, and Ward. Purpose of bill is to exempt various individuals performing animal husbandry from veterinary license requirements. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2627 By Delegates Statler, Phillips, Lewis, Dean, Wagner, and McGeehan. Requires all open hunting seasons to begin on Saturday. Permits Sunday hunting on private land with landowner’s permission. Permits counties to approve by majority of voters to prohibit Sunday hunting. Allows for hunting on public lands in counties where Sunday hunting is permitted. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2690 By Delegates Howell, Arvon, Hamrick, Queen, Criss, C. Romine, Atkinson, and Lewis. Purpose of bill is to terminate West Virginia Board of Registration of Foresters. Sent to House Government Organization. Passed with amendment. Sent to Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2777 By Delegate Deem. Purpose of bill is to require all unclaimed oil/gas royalties due a leaseholder of mineral estates by transferred and paid to the legal surface owner or owners. Sent to House Energy. WVFB monitoring.
The following bills were introduced March 6-10:
SB 505 By Senators Smith and Sypolt. Bill provides for five-year final reclamation period following construction of well pad for multiple horizontal wells. Does not change the partial reclamation requirements. Sent to Senate Energy. Committee substitute reported to full Senate, on first reading. Passed. Sent to House Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
SB 531 By Senator Sypolt. Purpose of bill is to permit annual renewal date for apiary certificate of registration to be by June 30 of each year, beginning in 2018. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. Passed on first reading full Senate. Amended and passed full Senate. Sent to House. WVFB supports.
HB 2865 By Delegates Anderson, Kelly, Zatezalo, Kessinger, Phillips, Butler, Wilson, and McGeehan. Purpose of bill is to create method of appeal by taxpayers who believe they were erroneously assessed. Bill establishes a process for petition to State Auditor for decision. Sent to House Finance. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2893 By Delegate Westfall. Purpose of bill is to increase amount of money that Land Division of Department of Agriculture may retain from various sources. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
The following bills were introduced March 13-17:
SB 576 By Senators Trump and Blair. Purpose of bill is to provide an exception to waste for certain oil and gas development. Bill provides co-tenants are not liable for damages when accounting is provided on pro rata shares. WVFB has suggested several changes to this bill that protects private property rights in regard to surface use agreement and post-production expenses. Sent to Judiciary. Similar HB 3094. WVFB opposes bill in its current form.
SB 579 By Senators Sypolt and Cline. Bill exempts farm wineries from certain taxes when selling farm-produced wine on the premises of the farm. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. WVFB monitoring.
SB 586 By Senator Sypolt. Purpose of bill changes annual registration fee for custom slaughterers, processors, and distributors to triennial fee. All other inspections remain the same. Sent to Agriculture & Rural Development. WVFB supports.
SB 611 By Senator Sypolt. Amends West Virginia Code 7-7-7e relating to expanding county assessment and collection of $1/head tax on beef cattle if owner wants to participate. Money collected will be forwarded to Agriculture Commissioner for coyote control program through USDA Wildlife Services. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. Companion HB 3027 passed House Agriculture & Natural Resources. Sent to Finance. WVFB supports.
SB 618 By Senators Maynard and Cline. Allows continuing education credits for veterinarians who provide free spaying and neutering under certain circumstances. Sent to Government Organization. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2931 By Delegates Walters and Deem. Bill relates to authorizing shut-in of oil and gas wells. Provides for payment of shut-in royalty and deferment of certain charges. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2932 By Delegates Walters and Frich. Bill provides for owner of conservation easement to be given right of first refusal to purchase land when landowner intends to sell land on which the easement exists. Sent to Judiciary. WVFB monitoring.
HB 2995 By Delegates Overington, Paynter, and Kessinger. Bill permits certain animal euthanasia technicians who have been certified by other states to be certified in West Virginia. Sent to Agriculture & Natural Resources. WVFB monitoring.
HB 3011 By Delegates Ward, Caputo, McGeehan, and Folk. Amends West Virginia Code 54-2-9 to change the determination of just compensation to be paid to landowner when eminent domain is used in pipeline construction. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 3020 By Delegates Harshbarger, Howell, Cowles, Ambler, Boggs, Paynter, Atkinson, Kessinger, Eldridge, and Statler. Amends West Virginia Code 20-7-9 relating to criminal penalties for offenses of hunting or trapping. Bill sets the penalty to match offense of criminal trespass. Passed House Agriculture & Natural Resources with amendment and sent to Judiciary. WVFB supports.
HB 3035 By Delegate Hornbuckle. Purpose of bill is to legalize manufacture, sale, and possession of marijuana. Sent to Health & Human Resources. WVFB opposes.
HB 3042 By Delegate Walters. Bill requires not less than one-eighth royalty to be paid to mineral owners. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
HB 3092 By Delegate Phillips. Purpose of bill is to clarify that fair market value of oil/gas-producing property is calculated through yield capitalization procedure. Sent to Energy. WVFB monitoring.
All bills introduced may be found at www.legis.state.wv.us.