As I read the news story of the building collapse in Grafton, I reached out to the Governor’s office to see if any funds were available for cleanup. Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds provide some funds for dilapidated buildings. The city can apply for assistance if needed and we can also request funds for other dilapidation issues. Also, I have a meeting this week with the Dept. of Agriculture and Dept. of Transportation regarding the old home at the intersection of Rt.50/250 in Pruntytown. I have been trying for several years to get the Dept. of Agriculture to sell the property since they are not caring for the home on the property. Recent issues have revolved around the DOT saying there are road entry issues. We will try to resolve these issues this week.
In other news, members of the West Virginia House of Delegates continued to advance legislation that would allow the state to continue expanding its ability to create jobs for a new economy by offering targeted tax credits for specific industries. House Bill 4025, which would provide a severance tax exemption of up to five years for the extraction, production and sale of rare earth elements and other critical materials as an economic development incentive, passed the full house by a vote of 94-4 Feb. 25. Rare earth elements are needed for many electronics and can be found in coal waste piles. We also voted in an overwhelming and bipartisan manner to bring back the state’s film tax credit after much study and improvement, led by Delegate Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha. House Bill 2096 would restore the film investment tax credit, which the Legislature first created in 2007, but was repealed in 2018 after a legislative auditor’s report recommended eliminating the tax credits. “For too many years now, West Virginia has been the only state in our region without this film credit,” Graves said. “That effectively meant Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and every other content producer out there had reasons to go to any state other than West Virginia to film their projects.”
A bill to strengthen the state’s regulations on broadband connectivity to provide long-term oversight was advanced to the full House of Delegates Feb. 25. House Bill 4001 would create a process for mapping rights of way and potential obstructions, would create rights of way for utility poles, strengthen customer protections and define eligible carriers, among other details aimed at strengthening broadband service. “This would provide the State of West Virginia the opportunity to hold those providers accountable,” said Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, and lead sponsor of House Bill 4001. “While we trust, we would hope to verify. If folks know someone will be watching, I hope that they would carry out the intent of the Legislature and the intent of Congress correctly.”
As we continue to improve child welfare, Delegates approved House Bill 4344 Feb. 23 with only one vote against it. The measure would increase the salary ranges for the state’s child protective services workers by 15 percent, would require the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to work with child placement agencies to create a program that ensures kinship families are able to participate in the foster care process. The bill also requires the West Virginia Bureau for Children and Families to complete a study of centralized intake by January 2023 and create a dashboard to be incorporated in the Bureau’s existing data system. We are also debating a $10,000 improvement to State Police salaries. The fiscal note is $8+ million.
Delegate Amy Summers ([email protected], 304-340-3220 office, 304-641-1159 cell, 98 Meadland Rd., Flemington, WV 26347)