FROM YOUR DELEGATE: Crossover Day, concealed carry, property taxes

Del. Gary Howell
W.Va. House of Delegates
Del. Gary Howell

The House has finished its work on House bills, as Wednesday was Crossover Day - the day all bills must be out of their house of origin.  

From now on we will only be working on Senate bills in the House. The only exception to this rule is appropriation bills, as the Governor may send us appropriation bills that are generally used to move money around in state agency accounts. This is needed because many state agencies will need more money in one account and less in another as needs change throughout the year.  The state budget does not allow agencies to move money from one account to another with approval of the legislature, thus we must pass supplement appropriation bills.

    HB 2793, a bill that will allow for the issuing of non-resident concealed carry permits, passed the House of Delegates on Monday. This bill will allow legal residents of other states, US territories and the District of Columbia to purchase West Virginia concealed carry permits after completing the requirements, which include a criminal background check. Since the state of Maryland is not a “shall issue state,” it is likely many people from Allegany County will come to Mineral County to purchase this non-resident permit. While they will still not be allowed to conceal carry in Maryland as Maryland continues to suppress the Civil Rights of its citizens as outlined in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, it will allow Maryland residents with West Virginia’s non-resident permit to carry in our state and states with which we share reciprocity, which is most U.S. states.

    A bill to begin the process of eliminating the West Virginia state income tax also passed. This is HB 3300, and this is not the plan presented by the Governor.  In this plan ZERO taxes are increased. If the bill passes the full process and becomes law, then the natural growth in state revenue will be used to eliminate the state income tax in 12 years or less without cutting the budget.

 I don’t believe this bill will survive through the entire process in this form, but it is a serious look at how to better the lives of West Virginia citizens.

    A West Virginia constitutional amendment passed out of the House that will help bring jobs to the mountain state, HJR 3, known as the “Property Tax Modernization Amendment.” Our state is one of the few that heavily taxes inventory and equipment used in business, which makes us much less attractive a location. Consider that West Virginia is the weighted population center of the eastern United States, that makes us the best location on the east coast for very large distribution centers as we can ship to nearly two-thirds of the US population within two days by most ground service.

But at the same time we have the inventory and equipment tax that makes us the most expensive place to locate.  This bill will eliminate that hurdle, so we can begin to attract new higher paying jobs.

The other part of this amendment will make it possible to finally eliminate the personal property tax on motor vehicles and we will be like Maryland where you don’t have to pay on your car every year and no longer take your tax bill to the DMV to get your tags renewed.  Any reduction in county tax revenue going to the school system will be replaced in the school aid formula.

    HB 2370 is a bill that I introduced at the request of several constituents and others in different parts of the state. The bill will give you the option not to pay a sewer charge when you fill your home swimming pool if it is not connected to the public sewer system. Your water bill is how your sewer bill is calculated, so if you wish you can provide the PSD with dimensions of your swimming pool, which they can inspect for size verification. They will calculate the gallons needed to fill that pool and allow you to subtract that volume of water from your sewer bill.

    HB 2592 introduced by Delegate Amy Summers of Taylor County will end the need for most special elections and move municipal elections to the statewide primary and general election dates.  This will save the counties and states millions of dollars in the future. Consider a special election in Mineral County cost the taxpayers approximately $60,000 and we have had more than one in a single year. The primaries and general elections have much higher turnouts, providing better voter input than special elections. Several special elections and municipal elections during the next two years will still be held to sync up elected terms and bond levies with the new requirements.

    We also passed HB 2022, the House version of the budget bill. This will not be the final version, so I will not go into detail as this will change as the Senate and House meet over the next week. The House budget holds the line on spending and proposed cuts are funded from surplus from this year’s budget, which actually means the agency will get its money sooner.

    West Virginia is doing great things and people are taking notice. West Virginia truly is the best place to live, work or raise a family. If you have any ideas to make our great state even more attractive or just need help with a state agency, please contact me.  My office number is 304-340-3191 or you can e@mail me at Gary.Howell@WVHouse.gov