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The West Virginia Senate Finance Committee has advanced a bill to the full Senate that would modify the state’s coal severance tax rebate program.

The Finance Committee advanced the bill Saturday afternoon that originated in the committee the same day. Committee counsel noted at the meeting the bill’s origin came at the request of the Governor’s Office, following several months of negotiations with industry representatives.

The Legislature passed the severance tax rebate program in 2019 with the intention of encouraging capital investment in the coal industry. The law provided for tax rebate opportunities for coal companies that made a qualifying capital investment demonstrated by buying new equipment, real property and reporting an increase in employees.

The new legislation, Senate Bill 718, would eliminate the current law’s reference to 2018 as the base year for calculating rebates. Instead, the bill institutes a base period consisting of the five previous years in an effort to arrive at a more representative average.

The bill requires there be an increase in coal production and the number of full-time employees across all the taxpayer’s mines in order to qualify for the tax rebate.

It also expands rebate eligibility to investments in repairing and refurbishing coal equipment. The previous legislation allowed for rebates only for investments in new equipment.

If the bill is not removed from the Senate calendar, a vote on passage could be held Wednesday.

Reach Mike Tony at mtony@hdmediallc.com, 304-348-1236 or follow @Mike__Tony on Twitter.

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