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LB 2012 - 03

January 30, 2012

 

CAWV President Gene Thompson spent last week discussing options for additional highway funding with Senate leadership including Senate President Jeff Kessler and his leadership team, Finance Committee Chairman Roman Prezioso and Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bob Beach.  While there is no bill to create additional revenue for the West Virginia Division of Highways, except the governor’s bill that dedicates a portion of any budget surplus to the highway department, there are a number of bills that would reduce funding for the State Road Fund and other transportation programs.   Bills have been introduced that would remove the tolls from the West Virginia Turnpike. Additionally, H.B. 3232, sponsored by Delegates Canterbury, Walters, Hamilton, Evans and Azinger, would eliminate the five percent privilege tax for motor vehicles using natural gas as fuel and dual purpose motor vehicles using both gasoline and natural gas as fuel. 

 

Lawmakers continue to lament the need for additional funding for the state’s highway program but, given that this is an election year, no real action is expected soon.  The WVDOH has introduced S.B. 217 and H.B. 4121.  These bills would automatically make the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax a state tax should Congress be unable to reach a consensus on a new federal-aid highway bill.  The federal law sunsets the federal gas tax two years after the last highway reauthorization bill, which was September 30, 2009, but Congress has passed a series of extension to allow the tax to continue. The bills would prevent a loss of revenue, such as that which occurred earlier this year when Congress allowed the FAA authorization to expire.

 

MANY IN WV LEGISLATURE WILL RUN UNOPPOSED

 

If action on a highway funding mechanism has to wait until after the election, a lot of legislators will be returning who are educated on the issue and can vote on one.  The candidate filing period ended Saturday but mailed-in candidate filings that were postmarked by Saturday’s midnight deadline will be accepted. Political party committees also have until February 10 to pick candidates to fill vacancies.

 

Half of the 34-seat state Senate is up in 2012.  A lack of opposing party candidates means that 12 of those 17 will remain with the party that now holds them. Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, has no primary or general election opponent.  Much of his top leadership team will remain intact for similar reasons: Finance Chair Roman Prezioso of Marion County; Judiciary Chair Corey Palumbo of Kanawha County; and Education Chair Robert Plymale of Wayne County.  Other Senators have no opposition including: Bill Laird of Fayette County, Doug Facemire of Braxton County, Bob Williams of Taylor County, and Herb Snyder of Jefferson County.  Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, also has no primary or general election challengers. Neither does former Delegate Craig Blair, a Berkeley County Republican who filed in the Senate’s redrawn 15th District.  The seat now held by Sen. Donna Boley of Pleasants County will face former Senator Frank Deem.  Sen. Karen Facemyer of Mason County will not seek re-election.  Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, filed in the state Treasurer race and Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, filed for Agriculture Commissioner. Veteran Senator John Pat Fanning, D-McDowell, has decide to retire.

The House of Delegates, where all 100 seats are on the ballot, will see a major turnover of members.  Over 20 veteran delegates have announced they will not seek reelection, for varying reasons. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, are seeking Senate seats. Brian Savilla, R-Putnam, has filed for Secretary of State.  Others cite personal reasons or redistricting as reasons for not returning.  Many of the 20 are delegates supported by HUB/PAC, the CAWV’s political action committee.

 

BILL REQUIRING SUBMISSION OF SUB LIST WITHIN TWO HOURS IN SUBCOMMITTEE

 

S.B. 36 requires contractors to submit a list of their subcontractors within two hours of a bid opening to the contracting agency or risk being declared irregular.  While the bill only pertains to the low bidder, all bidders may be required to submit their subs list.  On projects where there are alternates, the low bidder may not be apparent, based on which alternates are selected.  In order for contractors’ bids to be responsive, all bidders who may ultimately be declared the low, responsive bidder will have to submit their sub list within two hours.  Currently, the School Building Authority of WV is the only agency that has such a policy. This requirement is being inserted on select projects throughout.   S.B. 36 would require all public agencies to mandate this policy.  

 

Building contractors are used to having the two-hour requirement in the bidding documents. Highway contractors have noted that, during the construction season, they could bid anywhere between 25 and 50 jobs in one highway letting, placing a hardship in getting in a sub list within the allotted time.  The bill is referred to Labor and then the Judiciary Committee.  The bill will be referred to a subcommittee for further debate.

 

CRACKER PLANT TAX BILL PASSES BOTH HOUSES

 

The legislature passed H.B. 4086 which Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says will enhance West Virginia’s chances for landing one or more cracker plants.  The bill reduces personal property taxes for a company that builds an ethane steam cracker in West Virginia with a minimum of $2 billion investment.  Instead of taxing the property at 5 percent of its original value for 10 years, the bill extends the salvage value tax of 5 percent for 25 years.  A company could expect to reduce its tax liability by $20 million.  Gov. Tomblin flew to Texas to meet with Shell Company and other potential investors last week to entice them to build the $2 billion plant.  “This tax relief, I believe, showcases our state’s commitment to being a great business partner today and long into the future,” the governor said in a press release following the bill’s passage. 

 

The American Chemistry Council estimates that a West Virginia cracker plant would create 12,271 jobs, with 2,484 people employed directly in the chemical industry and 6,262 indirectly through its supply chain. The remaining 3,524 “induced” jobs would be triggered by the subsequent increase in consumer spending according to the trade group. They also believe it will take 8,000 construction jobs to build the plant. The cracker plant utilizes Marcellus natural gas to produce ethylene which can then be used in a variety of products such as plastics, sneakers and tires.

 

WATER SAMPLER REGISTRATION PROPOSED

 

The WV Department of Environmental Protection is considering legislation that would require technicians taking water samples to be registered and certified.  The department states they are concerned that consulting firms that conduct samples for companies, and companies that have their own personnel who take samples, may not be following proper procedures for the collection, handling and recording of water samples.  The CAWV, along with other industry representatives, met last week with WVDEP officials and Senate Government Organization Committee Chairman Herb Snyder to discuss the proposals. Industry was concerned the legislation would add more bureaucracy to a process that seems to be working well.  Industry also noted that companies can expect thousands of dollars in fines for violating Clean Water Act requirements.  WVDEP stated their goal is to make the process simple without a lot of bureaucracy.  Many contractors are required to take water samples to test turbidity and pH levels. Under this proposal, their personnel will need to be certified to take water samples.

 

WVDOH RULES BILL MAKING WAY THROUGH LEGISLATURE

 

The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Friday approved the WVDOH rules bill.  The DOH, like every state agency, must present its procedures and policies for legislative approval.  S.B. 280, which deals with the construction and reconstruction of state roads, is basically the division’s standard specifications that govern highway projects.  Senate members asked during the presentation if the CAWV supported the changes.  The CAWV noted that many of the changes proposed were a result of the work of the CAWV Joint Committee’s subcommittees, including the Specifications and Publications subcommittees.  The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

WEST VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE BILL INFORMATION

 

House and Senate bills can be accessed from the CAWV’s Legislative home page at www.cawv.org/legislative.  Members can view status updates on bills of interest to the construction industry and see what legislation is introduced that affects the construction industry.  A summary of each day’s activities will be uploaded each afternoon.

 

Below is a list of bills that have been introduced this week that have an impact on the construction industry or some CAWV members.  Anyone needing further information can contact Mike Clowser at (304) 342-1166 or email mclowser@cawv.org.

 

HOUSE BILLS

 

H.B. 4287        Del. Staggers and L. Phillips - Expanding the definition of Class A vehicles and designating class farm trucks as Class X - To Roads and Transportation then Judiciary

 

H.B. 4288        Del. Mahan - Relating to the receipt and transfer of scrap metal - To Judiciary

 

H.B. 4290        Del. Barker, Williams, Longstreth, Swartzmiller, Walker and Talbott - Keep Jobs in West Virginia Act (FN) - To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Finance

 

H.B. 4294        Del. Manchin, Lawrence, Cann, Doyle, Longstreth, Morgan and Varner - Repealing the municipality motor vehicle operator’s tax (FN) - To Political Subdivisions then Finance

 

H.B. 4313        Del. Manchin, Lawrence, Cann, Doyle, Longstreth, Morgan, Stephens and Varner - Requiring that the building code be the state building code - To Political Subdivisions then Judiciary

 

H.B. 4319        Del. Ferro, Barker and Caputo [By Request of the Division of Environmental Protection] - Modifying the Department of Environmental Protection’s requirements to inventory emissions of greenhouse gases and eliminating unneeded provisions - To Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business then Judiciary

 

H.B. 4320        Del. Ferro, Barker and Caputo [By Request of the Division of Environmental Protection] - Relating to the settlement of violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Act by consent agreements - To Judiciary

 

H.B. 4326        Del. Staggers - Relating to the suspension or elimination of the federal gas tax - To Finance

 

H.B. 4333        Del. Gearheart, Ellington and Householder - Relating to the School Building Authority (FN) - To Education then Finance

 

H.B. 4338        Del. Butcher, Stowers, Barill, Barker, R. Phillips, Hunt, Varner, Perdue, Moore, D. Poling and Cann - Raising the maximum value amount of an abandoned motor vehicle (FN) - To Roads and Transportation then Finance.

 

SENATE BILLS

 

S.B. 390           Sen. Kessler (Mr. Speaker) and Hall [By Request of the Executive] - Relating generally to state revenue funds - To Finance

 

S.B. 412           Sen. Kirkendoll and Browning - Increasing PSC civil penalties for Gas Pipeline Safety Act violations - To Energy, Industry and Mining then Judiciary

 

S.B. 416           Sen. Beach and Klempa - Relating to issuance of driver’s licenses - To Transportation and Infrastructure then Government Organization

 

S.B. 419           Sen. Browning - Revising high-growth business investment tax credit (FN) - To Economic Development then Finance

 

S.B. 420           Sen. Hall, K. Facemyer, Nohe, Barnes and Boley - Creating Civil Justice Reform Act of 2012 (FN) - To Judiciary then Finance

 

S.B. 428           Sen. Beach and Klempa - Relating to motor vehicle registration of government vehicles (FN) - To Transportation and Infrastructure then Finance

 

S.B. 429           Sen. Beach and Klempa - Relating to motor vehicle classifications - To Transportation and Infrastructure

 

S.B. 441           Sen. Beach - Exempting special motor vehicle equipment for disabled from sales and privilege taxes (FN) - To Transportation and Infrastructure then Finance

 

S.B. 458           Sen. Hall - Relating to employer and third-party liability under workers’ compensation deliberate intention exception - To Banking and Insurance then Judiciary