West Virginia Legislative Brief: Commentary from Gil White - January 2020 #2

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My View from the Capitol

This week, the highly anticipated resolution that could lower property tax on manufacturing machinery and automobiles debuted in the state Senate, but Democrats are already vocal with their skepticism.

The view of the minority party is particularly important in this instance because passing the resolution would require a two-thirds majority vote. The Senate has 14 Democrats and 20 Republicans, so three Democrats would be needed for passage.

Property taxes are specified in the state Constitution, and changing them would require a vote of the citizens of West Virginia which if passed by the State Legislature, would allow this to be on the ballot for voters decide.

Democrats said there would need to be a concrete plan to make up the money to county governments and local school boards, not just general promises of growth. Republicans countered that the details can be worked out in committee, and that West Virginia needs to reduce the property tax on equipment for manufacturers as an economic generator.

The Republican majority has been talking since prior to the session’s start about reducing or eliminating the property tax on manufacturing equipment, an issue that has come up repeatedly over the years. Both Governors Underwood and Manchin said this was a regressive tax and should be eliminated.

That would amount to approximately $100 million a year, an amount that could be phased out over time.

Tuesday's debut generated debate from the moment of inception. It has been assigned to both the Senate Judiciary and Senate Finance committees. There was an additional resolution introduced that would authorize the Legislature to lower or eliminate personal property taxes on motor vehicles as well. Stay tuned as both of these topics are guaranteed to generate lots of discussion and debate.

Legislative Calendar - Important Days to Remember

First Day - January 8

20th Day - January 27 - Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review Bills Due

35th Day - February 11 - Last day to introduce bills in the House

41st Day - February 17 - Last day to introduce bills in the Senate

47th Day - February 23 - Bills due out of committee in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings

50th Day - February 26 - Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin. Does not apply to the budget bill or supplemental appropriation bills.

60th Day - March 7 - Adjournment at midnight


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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