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Senate Finance advances West Virginia coal severance tax cut, despite doubts of its effectiveness

By PHIL KABLER

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Despite a surfeit of testimony indicating that a cut in the severance tax on steam coal will not have significant impact in making West Virginia coal price competitive with other states or with natural gas, the Senate Finance Committee advanced legislation to phase down the tax from 5 percent to 3 percent over three years (House Bill 3142).

While senators heard from economists saying the tax cut, which ultimately will reach $60 million a year, will have nominal effect in slowing the ongoing decline in demand for steam coal, they heeded the advice of Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, who said, “The more easy we make it to do business in West Virginia, the more revenue we generate.”

When a voice vote on the bill appeared in favor of the “nays,” Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, immediately declared the motion adopted, and there was no request for division on the vote.

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