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Senate votes to end alternative-fuel tax credit

Apr. 01, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

CHARLESTON -- Despite Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's demand for "no tax increases" at this year's session of the West Virginia Legislature, the state Senate approved 33-1 Monday a bill that will reduce existing tax credits in the state's Alternative-Fuel Motor Vehicle Tax Credit.

The legislation (SB185), if enacted, would balance the governor's 2013-14 state budget because it result in additional tax collections of $10 million, according to a fiscal note prepared by the State Tax and Revenue Department.

"The $10 million savings (from reduced tax credits to consumers) ... is included in the Governor's official revenue estimates for FY2014," according to a fiscal note summary prepared by officials in the State Tax and Revenue Department.

The identical bill (HB2506) was introduced in the House of Delegates and sent to the House Roads and Transportation Committee on Feb. 15, but it has never emerged from that committee. Since the final day for each side to pass its own bills is Wednesday (the 50th day of the session), the House is expected to take up the Senate bill instead.

Altogether the Senate passed 28 bills on third reading during its floor session Monday and only two of them were bills that came over from the House of Delegates.

One of those two, however, was HB3013 which calls for the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to appoint members in their respective chambers to seek out opportunities to secure the creation of new jobs in West Virginia. This bill now goes to the governor.

Another bill with major financial implications that passed the Senate by a 24-10 vote Monday was SB354, which calls for a study of alternative revenue sources to finance the state's highway system. One of those voting against the bill was Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, R-Putnam.

"We already have studies that indicate ways we can deal with this problem," Sen. Hall told reporters afterward. "Why should we pay for another study?"

Many of the 28 bills passed by the Senate Monday were by unanimous vote but another measure that did attract a few negative votes was SB470, which would allow the sales of wine on Sunday morning at fairs and festivals. Seven of the 34 members voted against that bill.

The House of Delegates, meanwhile, had only a dozen bills ready for passage and only 10 on second reading. However, there were 56 bills on the special calendar for first reading, which would enable the House to vote on them at third reading on Wednesday's deadline day.

Among those that will be ready for a final vote Wednesday are:

HB2805, which would make the experiment at the 2012 election that allowed candidates running for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to use a Public Campaign Financing Pilot Program into a permanent program.

HB2825, which would provide for increasing salaries of certain appointive state officers, including up to $175,000 a year for the next Secretary of Health and Human Resources. The current salary for that office is $95,000.

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