Legislative session reaches halfway point
The 2019 session of the West Virginia Legislature reached the halfway point in its 60-day session.
The last day to introduce bills in the House is today (Tuesday February 12).
The last for Senate introduction is Monday, February 18.
H.B. 2829 Severance Tax of limestone and sandstone elimination
was introduced Monday with 11 sponsors. The bill eliminates the severance tax on the production of limestone and sandstone. West Virginia quarry operators have tried to develop an equitable tax methodology for determining the value of the stone. This bill, referred to the Committee on Finance, eliminates the bill effective July 1, thus paralleling Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania which have no severance tax on limestone.
H.B. 2441 Payroll information bill
The House Committee on Industry and Labor met Tuesday to consider two pieces of legislation, one of which would strike language requiring workers on state-funded construction projects to report certified payroll information to the WV Division of Labor. H.B. 2441 would amend current statute which requires the employers working on publicly funded construction projects to submit payroll information containing their employees’ counties of residence, addresses, and the number of employees working on a given project. The bill would strike this requirement, allowing the WV Division of Labor to get needed compliance information from already conducted spot-checks.
S.B. 538 WVDOH bill increases limits on design-build projects
The WV Division of Highways has introduced S.B. 538 to modify the state’s highway design-build program. The proposed legislation increases the limit of a design-build project to $350 million. The bill also exempts federal aid highway projects from the obligational limits in current law, and also exempts projects funded by the Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017. The WVDOH has stated it has had problems getting projects designed and awarded under the limits placed on the design-build program. On a cursory review, S.B. 538 seems to exempt projects that would be funded from any additional federal funding over and above the state’s normal federal-aid highway programs and bond amendment projects from any design-build limitations. The bill has been introduced to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. A companion bill, H.B. 3027, has been introduced in the House.
H.B. 2028House passed bill requires bonding for work on state DOHright-of-way
H.B. 2028 has passed the House and was on the Senate Government Organization Committee agenda Tuesday before it was pulled. The stated purpose of this bill is to prohibit the state from requiring a public service district to have a state engineer on site during the entire construction period of projects on state rights-of-way. The bill was amended to the following: When a public service district lays water lines, sewer lines, utilities or pipelines on state rights-of-way, the state may require a state engineer to inspect the project at its commencement, periodically and at its conclusion. The state may not require a public service district to have an on-site state engineer for the entire time the project is under construction. The public service district shall require payment and performance bonds to cover a reasonable length of time for defects to be discovered.
S.B. 153 Senate economic development committee modifies IJDC funding measure
The Senate Economic Development Committee passed out S.B. 153 which is designed to provide greater flexibility for making grants to water and sewer projects. Under current law, construction project funding through the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council (IJDC) can only have 25% of the project cost as grant funding. The remaining project funding is loan money. IJDC must split its funding between the state’s three congressional districts. Recently, Congressional District 3 has had loan dollars unused because communities and public service districts could not make projects feasible with loan funds, and the grant dollars had all been allocated.