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The West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would enact several changes to the state’s coal severance tax rebate program passed in 2019 with the intention of encouraging capital investment in the coal industry.

Senate Bill 718 would institute a base period consisting of the five previous years for calculating rebates in an effort to arrive at a more representative average, eliminating the current law’s reference to 2018.

The 2019 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 bill requires that 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.

Senate Finance Committee counsel noted at the committee meeting from which the bill originated Saturday that the legislation came at the request of the Governor’s Office, following several months of negotiations with industry representatives.

Gov. Jim Justice’s office could not be reached for comment.

Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said on the Senate floor Wednesday that the bill would have no effect on state revenue. There is no fiscal note for the bill.

The bill now goes before the House of Delegates.

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

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

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