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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Under the watchful eyes of many West Virginia manufacturers, the Senate has approved legislation to provide relief to all West Virginians who pay vehicle taxes plus retailers and manufacturers

The Senate approved Senate Bill 837 by a vote of 17-16. The billwill remove personal property taxes from personal automobiles, retail inventories and manufacturing inventory, machinery and equipment. 

Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, spoke passionately in favor of the bill several times during a long floor debate and assured the primary stakeholders – counties, cities and school boards – that this tax reform plan will make sure they continue to receive the revenues they need to serve their communities.

“We have to take these steps forward. ... The goal is to get us off the energy roller coaster,” Blair said, urging his fellow senators toview the bill as an important tool for economic diversification. Doing nothing will get us one thing for certain, Mr. President – the same thing we have gotten in the past.”

Representatives from many West Virginia Manufacturers Association member companies attended floor session today to see passage of SB837. President Rebecca McPhail said passage of SB837 is a positive step forward in making the state attractive to new manufacturing investment while also removing a burdensome tax on all West Virginia automobile owners.

This legislation provides an incredible opportunity for current manufacturers to expand existing West Virginia operations, and we hope the House of Delegates and ultimately West Virginia voters allow this exciting plan to move forward,” McPhail said.

She said the vast majority of companies in the state’s manufacturing industry are small businesses that often struggle with the unique tax burden here. Implementation of SB837 will allow those businesses to re-invest in West Virginia.

“We are committed to investing all savings related to the repeal of inventory, machinery, and equipment tax to developing our employees and community,” said Holly Fillipovich, chief financial officer at Ziegenfelder Co., which makes the popular Twin Pops and other frozen treats in WheelingOne hundred percent of these savings will be used for skill development, training and wages.”

SB837 cannot take effect without passage of Senate Joint Resolution 9, which is a constitutional amendment requiring a super majority vote in both houses plus voter approval in the 2020 General Election

“West Virginia voters will have the right to decide if this is the best path forward for West Virginia,” McPhail said. “We need great jobs in our state, and manufacturing can offer lifelong careers as well as the economic diversity our state needs. We hope the West Virginia Legislature will support this effort and that voters follow in suit.”

SB837 willphase out annual taxes on personal vehicles for West Virginians, retail inventories and manufacturing inventory, machinery and equipment. SB837 also creates a special fund to providereplacement revenue for counties, schools and municipalities. That replacement revenue will be generated by a modest 0.5% increase in the state sales tax rate and increasing tax rates on cigarettes, vape and other tobacco products. Senate leaders also anticipate increasedrevenues from the creation of government efficiencies and the economic growth spurred by reinvestment and job creation. 

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charlie Trump said SB837 represents one of those rare moments when transformative change is possible.

Everyone knows that the ad valorem tax on machinery, inventory and equipment is a killer. It is a job killer. And for a long time we thought there was nothing we could do about it,” Trump said.But I congratulate the chairman of Finance and the committee. They have brought to the floor an extraordinary bill. This is an opportunity to unshackle West Virginia from the yoke, the depression that comes from the tax on machinery, equipment and inventory. It strangles investment.

The tide lies before us, and we will choose whether we have a future where we give people relief, give businesses relief and attract new businesses into West Virginia,” Trump said. “This bill will liberate us. … I’m for this bill. I’m for the people. I’m for relief for the people of West Virginia.”