Update on Bills to Support

By Rob Casto, WVEC Lobbyist

As we approach the halfway point of the 2021 legislative session there are a few bills we are supporting that are still pending in committees. SB30, sponsored by Senator Trump, which would permit third-party ownership of renewable and alternative energy generating facilities, is currently in the Senate Committee on Economic Development with a second reference to Senate Government Organization. This bill will add a proviso that states that an installation that is leased to the retail electric customer or the output of which is subject to a power purchase agreement with the retail electric customer, shall not constitute a public service. This has been a high priority bill for WVEC for the last couple of years. With bipartisan support we need to make sure this legislation is addressed.  Please contact Chairman Swope at 304-357-4484 or email at chandler.swope@wvsenate.gov and ask that SB30 be placed on the committee’s agenda for discussion. You may also contact Vice Chairman Martin at 304-357-7845 or patrick.martin@wvsentate.gov.

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, HB2667, a bill to create a cost-saving program for state buildings regarding energy efficiency, is pending the House Committee on Energy and Manufacturing. I am hearing the reason this bill is not moving is the fiscal note provided by the Department of Administration carries an increase of $1.682 million. You may view the fiscal note implications of HB2667 here.

We will continue to work with sponsors of this bill and the committee Chair in getting this bill before the committee. If you wish to contact the Chair and offer support, please contact Chairman Anderson at 304-340-3168 or at bill.anderson@wvhouse.gov

SB404, sponsored by Senators Smith, Ihlenfeld, Lindsey and Hamilton, modifies the permitting process in Article 6A; Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act, stating that any permit modification, subject to the approval of the Secretary, is subject to a fee of $2,500. These funds will be deposited in the Operating Permit and Processing Fund and may be used for the retention or hiring of well inspectors. The bill will be on passage in the Senate on Monday, March 8. 

Another bill of interest is SB475, which would take special revenue funds from the Division of Forestry, Division of Labor, Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Natural Resources and place them in General Revenue. After considerable debate in Senate Finance Thursday, and all agencies speaking in opposition, the committee amended the bill and removed all agencies with the exception of the Division of Labor. If left alone, this bill would have had devastating effects on our park system, with estimated losses as much as $20 million. Forestry would have incurred an estimated shortfall of approximately $200,000. The bill, as amended, was reported out of committee. We will continue to monitor SB475 throughout the remainder of the session. 

Important dates:

Thirty-fifth Day – March 16, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the House.  Does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

Forty-first Day – March 22, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

Forty-seventh Day – March 28, 2021: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

Fiftieth Day – March 31, 2021: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. 

Sixtieth Day – April 10, 2021: Adjournment at Midnight. If you would like specific information on any piece of legislation, please feel free to contact me at rcastowv@gmail.com or 304-561-5988.

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