CHARLESTON — While a special session of the West Virginia Legislature called to order by Governor Jim Justice in the past month to consider tax reform and an update to abortion law remains on hiatus , Justice has convened an additional special session which is due to begin today.
Justice issued a proclamation on Saturday night calling the Legislative Assembly into special session from 1.30pm today to consider an economic development bill and an appropriation for minor road maintenance funding.
The first bill would create a certified industrial enterprise expansion development program within the Department of Economic Development. The program would encourage the siting and construction of high-impact industrial facilities where the facilities require access to renewable electricity sources.
The Department of Economic Development would determine whether a facility qualifies to be a high-impact industrial commercial development district, including whether the facility would have a positive economic impact on the state, whether the facility has the potential to attract at least two others downstream. businesses and cannot exceed 2,250 acres located on land sold or leased by state, county and city governments.
The bill would free any company wishing to supply renewable energy to the High Impact Industrial Development District from the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission, becoming an exempt wholesale generator, disabling competition with other energy providers. ‘electricity.
It is unclear whether the bill targets a specific industry or energy source, but interest has been growing since the beginning of the year in nuclear energy, including the use of small advanced modular reactors also called SMR. Lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year lifting the state’s ban on nuclear power.
The second bill would use $150 million of excess tax revenue in the Highways Division’s general revenue fund for the maintenance of secondary roads. According to the state Department of Transportation, 495 paving projects remain for 2022, representing 786.1 miles of work. There remain 4,081 ditching projects, 2,327 patching projects and 14,675 stabilization projects, with more than 29,000 projects completed so far in 2022.
The first special session convened by the judiciary on July 25 remains on hiatus as lawmakers grapple with differences associated with a bill banning abortion unless circumstances fall within a narrow set of exceptions, and also as lawmakers and the governor debate the best strategy to deliver tax relief. in West Virginia.
The Senate and House of Delegates adjourned on July 29, subject to recall by legislative leaders after the House refused to approve Senate changes to Bill 302, the abortion bill .
HB 302 would prohibit all abortions from fertilization except for medical emergencies, a non-medically viable fetus, the case of pregnancy when a fetus develops outside the womb and in cases of incest or sexual assault in certain circumstances.
The House plans to briefly reconvene the special session on abortion today to appoint its five members to a conference committee, although no time has been set. Senate Speaker Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, has indicated he will not resume the special session until a consensus is reached between House and Senate Republicans.