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House GOP, Dems outline agendas

By Staff, wire reports
Chip Ellis
Bobbie Legg (left), supervisor of the House of Delegates document room, discusses carryover bills with House Clerk Greg Gray (center), while Helen Wilson files the bills. House members will "carry over" 636 bills from last year's session; the bills will be automatically reintroduced at the beginning of the legislative process. The annual 60-day legislative session begins today.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The minority Republican delegates prodded the Democratic leadership to lower taxes during a press conference Tuesday. The Republicans argued a lower tax burden will revive a state that ranks near the bottom in job creation and median household income.

Delegate Patrick Lane, D-Kanawha, listed several chances to reduce taxes. He wants to increase the homestead exemption for seniors, reduce the Social Security tax burden and raise the minimum low income tax exemption.

Lane also wants to cut the tax businesses pay on their equipment and inventory. A similar push failed last legislative session.

The Republican ideas come amid a budget shortfall in West Virginia. Lawmakers start their 60-day session today.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Democratic House leaders discussed the final two parts of their platform. Among the measures announced by House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, and others is the creation of a standing committee on energy. That committee will be headed by Delegate Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, who is a vice president for Natural Resource Partners.

Delegates also said they agree with Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and other senators who want a "future fund" set up with revenues generated by the oil and gas industry. "The use of the revenue from the future fund can be for many different activities, but should certainly be utilized in areas that serve as an investment in our state's future, such as education, teacher salaries, and infrastructure," Craig said in a news release.

Miley also said he wants to create a standing committee devoted solely to the needs of small businesses. Last year, House leaders created a work group led by Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, for a similar purpose.

"In the past, very few, if any, pieces of legislation were introduced were directed solely to benefit small businesses. Most legislation which gets introduced and which is intended to help businesses usually only benefits large corporations," Miley said in the release.

 


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