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March 2016

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March 1, 2016

Senate committee originates bill to cut coal tax
By Jeff Jenkins | MetroNews

The state Senate Finance Committee originated a bill Monday afternoon to decrease the state’s coal severance tax by two percent over two years in hopes of making West Virginia’s coal more competitive with other states.

The rate would go from 5 percent to 3 percent under the bill (SB 705), Sen. Finance Committee Chair Mike Hall (R-Putnam) said.

“We’re (currently) taxing...

March 1, 2016

Crisis averted, but it leaves us wondering
Thankfully, a tax bill that would have threatened small business gets sidelined

Register-Herald editorial

We know the West Virginia Legislature is facing a monumental task of balancing a state budget that is some $353 million out of whack. And that’s just for the current fiscal year. Next year’s calculations project a yawning $460 million gorge.

So, yes, legislators are looking for more than...

March 2, 2016

Senate approves bill changing makeup of PEIA Finance Board
By WV MetroNews

The State Senate has approved along party lines a bill changing the makeup of the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board. Republican backers say SB 622 is a response to the financial problems with the state’s health insurance program.

...

March 3, 2016

RFRA bill killed by Senate; opponents claim victory
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

An unlikely coalition killed an amended version of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act Wednesday night in the state Senate.

Democrats who opposed the legislation to begin with, and GOP Senators who preferred the original House bill and didn’t think the amended bill went far enough, combined to vote down the bill on third reading, 27-7.

...

March 3, 2016

Severance tax cuts for coal, natural gas advance in legislature
By MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill that lowers the severance tax on coal and natural gas. SB 705 lowers the current five percent tax by one percent a year for two consecutive fiscal years...

March 4, 2016

House Speaker: There are other ways to fill budget shortfall without tobacco tax bill
By Shauna Johnson, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Tobacco tax increases are no longer in the mix of possible funding sources as state lawmakers continue work at the State Capitol to close an estimated shortfall of between $160 million and $180 million in the next West Virginia budget.

House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha, 40) said all was not lost,...

March 4, 2016

Bus passing bill close to final approval
By Jeff Jenkins | WV MetroNews

Drivers caught illegally passing a school bus loading or unloading kids would initially spend 24-hours in jail in a bill that passed the House of Delegates Friday.

The bill (SB 13) will be on its way to the governor for consideration if the Senate agrees to the changes the House made to its bill.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha) explained the 24-hour...

March 6, 2016

Senate overrides veto of permitless carry bill
By Pamela Pritt Register-Herald Reporter

The state Senate joined with the House of Delegates Saturday in overriding the constitutional carry bill that allows all state residents 21 and older to carry a gun without a permit or training. The vote was 23 to 11.

The bill does not change the law concerning people who are prohibited from carrying firearms.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed SB 4145 Thursday with...

March 6, 2016

Crunch time: Lawmakers down to the wire for state budget
By Pamela Pritt Register-Herald Reporter

With a mandate to balance a budget and only six days left to go to pass bills to move that process along, lawmakers are still searching for ways to make the numbers fall in line. Since one major revenue measure failed in a House of Delegates committee this week, they're left with few options.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin presented a balanced budget to the...

March 7, 2016

Tomblin appoints Scott Rotruck to fill state BOE void
By MetroNews Staff

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced the appointment of Scott Rotruck to the state Board of Education Friday.

Rotruck will take over immediately, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Wade Linger last year.

“Scott possesses a wealth of knowledge from industries fundamental to our state’s economic growth and ongoing development,” Tomblin said. “His years of experience in...

March 7, 2016

PROMISE scholarship seeing more high school seniors apply this year
By Carrie Hodousek  | WV MetroNews

More high school seniors have applied for West Virginia’s PROMISE Scholarship this year compared to last year, according to the state Higher Education Policy Commission.

“As of March 1, we had 11,791 students that filled out the PROMISE application, which is a little increase from over the last year. We had around 11,400 sign up.” said Brian Weingart,...

March 7, 2016

Tension growing under the Capitol dome
Hoppy's Commentary | Hoppy  Kercheval, WV MetroNews

By this time in the session, the West Virginia Legislature is like family; by that I mean everybody is mad at each other and they’re fighting about money.

That’s inevitable for several reasons.

First, the 100 members of the House of Delegates and 34 Senators have been occupying the same space here at the Capitol for seven weeks; meetings and floor speeches...

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