UPDATE: WV Legislature passes 6 bills on taxes, employer hiring practices

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CHARLESTON, WV -(WTAP) UPDATE: 10/18/2017, 12:10 P.M.

The West Virginia Legislature passed 6 bills into law during a special session that began Monday and ended late Tuesday.

The bills, which mainly affect state taxes and how workers are hired across the State, will do the following things, according to the Legislature:

1. Strengthens enforcement of the West Virginia Jobs Act by requiring employers to hire at least 75% of its employees from West Virginia and enhances civil penalties.

2. Shortens the time period for hiring personnel for the Division of Highways and Tax Division.

3. Permits the sharing of information between the Division of Highways and Tax Division to ensure compliance with all state laws.

4. Exempts military retirement income from personal income tax.

5. Increases tax credits for rehabilitation of certified historic structures.

6. Approves technical corrections to State Court of Claims payments.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says he's happy the bills were passed, and believes they will help improve the state's economy, saying:

"These pieces of legislation were critical for us to do the will of the people, which is to put West Virginians back to work as quickly as possible, to take care of our Veterans and to provide incentives to those who will preserve and redevelop our historical areas.”

ORIGINAL STORY: 10/16/2017 6:33 P.M.

An issue during the recent road bond election campaign was whether contractors would hire highways workers from West Virginia, who are more likely to pay in-state taxes, or employ workers from out of state.

A bill under consideration in the special session that began Monday aims at a 75% state worker minimum.

"I think right now we need to ensure as many of those jobs go to West Virginians as we can do," says Del. John Kelly (R-Wood). "I think once the bill comes down and once we get it hashed out, I think it will be a feasible bill."

A Pleasants County Senator, while not against that proposal, is somewhat skeptical about how it can be implemented. That's in part, because it would mean the West Virginia Department of Transportation would have to hire more employees to do the work.

"The department of highways is already saying we're down 500 jobs," says Republican Sen. Donna Boley. "So, they're going to have to fill those jobs, and they're going to have to train."

Another issue, Boley says, is a common one: finding people for those jobs who can pass a drug test.

"The only problem is the high usage of drugs in West Virginia, and not having enough people to make up that 75%."

Senator Boley is optimistic the Road Bond's passage can soon result in the start of widening state route 2, which runs through her home county.

ORIGINAL STORY: 10/16/2017, 6:33 P.M.
The West Virginia Legislature is returning to the Capitol to consider legislation aimed at ensuring West Virginians are hired by contractors repairing and building roads and bridges across the state.

Gov. Jim Justice has called lawmakers back to the statehouse for a special session starting Monday to address that proposal as well as bills to exempt military retirees from paying personal income tax and increase the credit allowed against personal and corporation net income taxes for spending on rehabilitating historic structures.

After voters recently approved $1.6 billion in state bonding for road and bridge projects, the Justice administration also drafted bills authorizing the Division of Highways to streamline hiring policies to fill vacancies and to access tax records to disqualify tax-delinquent contractors.

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