2-25-2020 - A day after the Republican-controlled West Virginia Senate narrowly passed a measure to overhaul the state’s tax system, the Senate failed to muster enough votes to approve a required resolution to get a constitutional change before the voters.

Most WV counties say the tax change would be devastating, as they state lawmakers continued to move ahead.

Legislators were unable to come up with new taxes that would cover the tax void.

The tax replacements would have been scattered on all West Virginians.

Senate Joint Resolution 9 on Tuesday received “yes” votes from 18 senators, and “no” votes from 16 senators. The Senate needed 23 votes – or two-thirds of the 34-member body – to approve the resolution.

On Monday, the Senate had passed a companion bill, Senate Bill 837, on a 17-16 vote. It would have eliminated the inventory tax and phased out property taxes on vehicles while raising sales taxes and tobacco taxes.

Passage of the resolution was needed, however, to get the proposed changes on taxes before voters. The Senate delayed the vote on the resolution on Monday to Tuesday.

Backers of the resolution said it was needed to encourage manufacturers to locate in West Virginia or to expand and create jobs.


UPDATE 2/25/2020 - With little discussion about the removal of the long-time Inventory Tax by the West Virginia legislature to "bring jobs" to the Mountain State, senators narrowly passed the bill Monday 17-16.

Still to be considered by the Senate is a resolution allowing citizens to vote on a constitutional amendment allowing the property tax changes.

Dozens of West Virginia county leaders say the elimination of the taxes would be financially devastating without a tax replacement.

So far the tax replacement has not equaled the financial hole if such an amendment was passed by voters, those taxes being cost-shifted from large corporations to individual taxpayers.

“I think it’s just a great tradeoff,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, emphasizing the "carrot on a stick," the phase-out of the personal property tax for people’s vehicles.

Despite the significant push by Republican leaders, some political observers the issue could be dead.

By Bob Weaver

2/24/2020 - The West Virginia Legislature is set to vote on a resolution Monday that has some county officials upset.

If passed, Senate Joint Resolution 9 would put a referendum on the ballot in November that would amend the state constitution and eliminate personal property taxes on vehicles, manufacturing equipment and other business inventory.

Last week legislators added doing away with the personal property taxes on vehicles and equipment owned by most West Virginians, sweetening the passage if put on a ballot.

Officials in multiple counties have contested that the resolution would have a direct, negative affect on local agencies.

Calhoun Commissioner Kevin Helmick said the measure could be devastating to Calhoun.

Calhoun commissioners are concerned the cuts could hinder the taxes that are set to start on July 1 from the $94 million TransCanada compressor station recently built in the county.

"Those TransCanada taxes, the first in years for this county, are a lifesaver just to keep things going, including paying our jail bill," Helmick said.

The Hur Herald reached out to Delegate Roger Hanshaw if the measure would affect Calhoun taxes from the TransCanada project.

Spokesperson Aaron Kidd responded: "At this point, it depends on what if anything the Senate passes. We don't have anything related to what you have referenced moving in the House at this time and it will depend what the exact bill that comes from the Senate looks like."

Cabell County Commission President Nancy Cartmill said in a news release that the resolution would “destroy the autonomy of local government and place it in the hands of the West Virginia Legislature.”

“This legislation will totally destroy county government,” Cartmill said in the news release. “Cabell County will lose one-third of its operating budget.

Still, the Republican Senate maintains that cutting the long-time tax on coal, oil, gas and businesses would create new jobs, heavily lobbied by industry to pass the bill.

The legislature has struggled to fill the tax gap if the issue moves forward.

“What we’re going to do here is give relief to corporations, and let citizens backfill it with the increase in sales taxes and the cigarette tax,” Sen. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton, said, tax paying citizens will make up the difference.

Discussion of phasing out the personal property tax on manufacturing equipment, machinery and inventory has been ongoing throughout the session, and long before.

The revenue lost from the tax cuts jumped to about $300 million a year.

School boards, counties and municipalities rely on property tax revenue and, as they have for years, legislators struggled to say how those public agencies would be made whole under the plan.

With little fanfare, the West Virginia Senate on Monday approved a $5.6 million pay raise for magistrates and judges throughout the state.