Charleston — The legislative process is often compared to sausage making. This is a messy process that pits political parties against each other, sometimes members of the same party. But this year, lawmakers from both sides have shown they can work together to deliver major economic development projects quickly.
Earlier this year, it was Mason County’s Nucor project. A North Carolina-based steelmaker has revealed plans to build a new electric arc furnace and steel mill in Mason County. In two years, the project will create 1,000 new construction jobs and 800 full-time jobs when the factory is completed, leading to an investment of $2.7 billion.
However, the project would not be announced at the beginning of the 2022 Congress unless legislators met in a two-day special session in early January to pass Senate Bill 1001, the West Virginia Industrial Development Act. It must have been.
The law created a tax credit equal to 50% of a company’s eligible manufacturing investment. Projects eligible for tax credits must have a minimum investment of $2 billion in real estate for industrial use and at least 500 full-time employees within the first 36 months of the tax year in which the incentive is offered. I need employment. SB 1001 passed almost unanimously in both the Senate and House.
Congress met again on Monday for a one-day special session to pass Senate Bill 4001, creating the Certified Industrial Business Expansion Development Program. The bill created his two high-impact industrial business development districts of 2,250 acres. The district is intended to encourage the placement and construction of large industrial and manufacturing plants where facilities require access to renewable power sources.
Two companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway have purchased over 2,000 acres at the former Century Aluminum site in Jackson County to build a state-of-the-art titanium melting facility that will utilize solar energy. The companies are investing $500 million in what they call the first industrial site powered by a renewable energy microgrid.
Gov. Jim Justice issued a special session call last Saturday night, lawmakers gave the gavel at noon Monday, and passed the bill almost unanimously by Monday afternoon. The judiciary signed the bill Tuesday morning surrounded by lawmakers, state economic development officials, and business representatives.
Senate Speaker Craig Blair (Republican Berkeley) and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (Republican) said in interviews Thursday in the Capitol that the governor’s office, the Department of Economic Development, and members of the Republican majority and Democratic minority even pass bipartisan legislation quickly and help land major economic development projects.
“West Virginia is now officially on the Fortune 500 company map,” Blair said. “They’re interested in West Virginia and they’re here to invest. “This is just the tip of the future iceberg coming to West Virginia.
“This is a testament to the good work that people in the Department of Economic Development and Commerce have been doing and the new tools that Congress and[the Governor’s Office]have given them in the past. It took eight years before we could sell to a set of industries, a whole new economy that was uncompetitive just a few years ago.” Hanshaw said.
Blair and Hanshaw say that swift action on the economic development bill that won Nucor and Berkshire Hathaway could send a positive signal to major businesses, industry and manufacturers that West Virginia is on the move. rice field. “The speed of business”.
“We are trying to run government at the speed of business, not at the speed of government.” Blair said. “If we want to bring more businesses to the state, like Berkshire Hathaway, they have to realize that we can work on pennies like that and make things happen. We’re done showing it to them, don’t you just think it won’t result in further investment?I assure you, it will.
“We can do it quickly, and that’s what sets us apart from many other states.” Hanshaw said. “We told economic development prospects that were here before that we could start construction in West Virginia before other states were allowed to operate.”
It’s not just the ability to quickly call legislators and work quickly to pass legislation. The law was passed in regular parliament for 60 days from January to March. Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5 to encourage the production of unmanned aerial vehicles in the state. After the bill passed the Senate, Hanshaw said one company reached out to lawmakers to tweak the bill.
“We all thought the Senate was doing the right thing. We were involved in the process.” Hanshaw said. “One of the major drone manufacturers came to us right after the Senate passed the bill and said, ‘Wait a minute. There are a few things you’re doing wrong. You have to think about this. In less than a week, a new bill was drafted, we took it from the House back to the Senate, and the Senate agreed with our action and passed the bill in less than a week. I was able to do.”
“As you know, the pride of the Senate cannot be tarnished by making things better from the House. Blair said.
Another bill currently having a positive effect in the 2022 session is House Bill 4491. The bill created a carbon sequestration pilot program and set permit requirements for future projects.
Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures announced Friday that it will build a $3 billion natural gas-fired power plant and carbon capture and sequestration project.
The company cited HB 4491 as a reason for pursuing the project. Hanshaw met with CPV officials after Thursday’s interview to describe the new economic development project.
To help remove hurdles that impede their ability to grow in West Virginia, Blair and Hanshaw said the state legislature stands ready to help any business, whether newly established or long-established in the state. He said that
“Any existing small business in West Virginia with a particular challenge, with a particular experience, and made easier by the state government, immediately picks up the phone or picks up a laptop and Email your elected delegates and senators and tell them what they are. Hanshaw said. “We want to be sensitive to those things.