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West Virginia Legislative Brief -March 10, 2017: Commentary

Welcome to the 2017 Legislative Brief, your one-stop shop for legislative news from a variety of sources throughout West Virginia, and my view of the legislative happenings on the horizon.  Today marks the 31st day of the 60-Day Legislative Session.

Legislative Action by the Numbers:

  • 934 bills introduced in the House

  • 572 bills introduced in the Senate

  • 70 bills have passed the Senate and await House consideration

  • 55 bills have passed the House and await Senate consideration

View from the Capitol:

Yesterday marked the halfway point for the 2017 session of the West Virginia Legislature. Closing the budget gap for the 2018 fiscal year has been, and continues to be, the primary focus of members of the Legislature and the Governor.

There are currently three pending proposals for legislative consideration. However, it is believed the Senate could offer yet a fourth proposal as early as Monday. The first proposal would eliminate the Consumer Sales Tax exemption for professional services in West Virginia. The elimination of this exemption would result in sales taxes being applied to professional services.  Only three states currently tax professional services:  New Mexico (5%), Hawaii (4%), and South Dakota (4%). Florida, Iowa, and Michigan previously enacted a professional services tax in their states, but quickly repealed it. 

The second proposal is the new Commercial Activities Tax (or gross receipts tax). This is similar to a B&O tax, which West Virginia repealed for most businesses over three decades ago.

The third proposal is Senate Bill 335, which is currently under consideration in the Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform. SB 335 would repeal most existing forms of taxation and move West Virginia towards a broad General Consumption Tax. 

It's quite obvious, with only 29 days remaining in the session, there are vast differing opinions on how to move forward in dealing with the financial situation at hand. One thing for sure, it's all but a certainty there will be more significant proposed cuts to the budget, as opposed to most, if not all, of the Governor’s enhancement proposals. 

Legislative Calendar - Important Days to Remember

35th Day - March 14 - Last day to introduce bills in the House.

41st Day - March 20 - Last day to introduce bills in the Senate.  

47th Day - March 26 - Bills due out of committee in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

50th Day - March 29 - Last day to consider bills on third reading in house of origin.  Does not apply to the budget bill or supplemental appropriations bills.

60th Day - April 8 - Adjournment at midnight.

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About this Author

L. Gil White, Government Relations Coordinator, Political Liaison Lawyer,
Government Relations Coordinator - WV

Gil White is a former 14-year elected member of the West Virginia State Legislature and a former political liaison to Governor Joe Manchin III.

During the 2016 WV Legislative Session, Mr. White discussed the sales tax exemption bill with Phil Kabler of The Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Click here to read the article.  

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