With the completion of the "Cross-Over Day" deadline for legislation to pass the originating West Virginia Legislative Chamber (House of Delegates or Senate), there are four bills which recently passed the House of Delegates that prompts further comment and analysis.
HJR 113 is the proposed amendment to the West Virginia Constitution that would allow individual counties to increase the amount of property tax credits (Homestead Exemption Act) given to senior citizens and the disabled. Since HJR 113 is an amendment to our West Virginia Constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote of approval by both chambers of the Legislature (House of Delegates and Senate) and then an approving referendum by voters in the upcoming November election in order to become law. HJR 113 was approved by the House of Delegates by an unanimous vote and now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Note: Although my preference is to reduce or even eliminate property taxes for all West Virginia homeowners, HJR 113 at least has the potential for providing much needed property tax relief for senior citizens and the disabled.
HB 4263 is the West Virginia Buy American Act proposal, which callously trades upon a popular slogan and our national pride in order to increase the cost to taxpayers for public building projects. Instead of simply requiring contractors to make a reasonable effort to use American made products in public project construction, HB 4263 establishes a complicated "Rube Goldberg" set of approval rules for the use of construction materials. It also could require taxpayers to pay contractors much more than normal competitive prices for those construction materials. Even worse, the rules set by HB 4263 are so byzantine and stifling that it even actually could discriminate against West Virginial contractors and cause them to lose business because they cannot readily obtain American made project materials. HB 4263, despite its good intentions, is not a jobs creation bill. It actually could do much more harm than good.Contractor and Delegate Daryl Cowles (R-Morgan County) made valiant attempts to correct (amend) some of the worst inequities in HB 4263, but was voted down (Roll Call #136: 33 yeas, 62 nays, and 5 not voting; Roll Call #137: 31 yeas, 64 nays, and 5 not voting). Eastern Panhandle yea votes for both amendments by Delegate Cowles were Delegates Daryl Cowles, Walter Duke, Eric Householder, Larry D. Kump, Jonathan Miller, and John Overington. Voting nay on both amendments were Delegates John Doyle and Tiffany Lawrence. HB 4263 then passed the House of Delegates (Roll Call # 159 : 82 yeas, 16 nays, and 2 not voting ). Eastern Panhandle votes against passage of HB 4263 were Delegates Daryl Cowles, Eric Householder, Larry D. Kump, Jonathan Miller, and John Overington.Voting for passage of HB 4263 were Delegates John Doyle, Walter Duke, and Tiffany Lawrence. This legislation now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
HB 4392 increases the salaries of magistrates. (Roll Call # 130: 65 yeas, 30 nays, and 5 not voting) If enacted into law, it will have increased the salaries of lower tier magistrates by $27,000 over the past nine years. HB 4392 now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Note: Nay votes In the Eastern Panhandle were Delegates Walter Duke, Daryl Cowles, Eric Householder, Larry D. Kump, Jonathan Miller, and John Overington. Yea votes were Delegates John Doyle and Tiffany Lawrence. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
HB 4281 would provide a modest salary increase for State Troopers and unanimously passed the House of Delegates. It now will go to the Senate for further consideration.
Meanwhile, the West Virginia House of Delegates now turns its attention to consideration of legislation previously passed by the Senate.