WV Industrial Advancement Act moves to governor’s desk
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Legislation expected to pave the way for a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing plant in Mason County, West Virginia, was passed Tuesday morning in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
The WV Industrial Advancement Act now proceeds to to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk.
The legislation, West Virginia Industrial Advancement Act (SB 1001), passed Tuesday by a 91-to-2 vote. Seven delegates were absent.
Gov. Justice’s Chief of Staff, Brain Abraham, told lawmakers Monday he believes this development will be ‘the largest single investment in West Virginia history in terms of infrastructure and manufacturing.’
The legislation requires the company to invest at least $2 billion and hire 500 full-time employees, all of whom will make twice the minimum wage.
In return, the state could provide $1 billion in tax credits and -- separately -- invest $315 million in taxpayer dollars.
Delegate Larry Rowe led the questioning.
“Do you think, sir, that we have sufficient guardrails and stops in this bill to ensure that our investment will be returned as we expect?” he asked.
“The guardrails that you’re looking for is the clawback provision,” House Finance Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley answered. “If they do not meet any of these requirements, we have the ability to retroactively claw back any money that we have invested with this company.”
Others questioned the necessity for a special session and the lacking time for amendments that could have incentivized the hiring of West Virginia workers.
“I have very serious reservations,” said Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D - Monongalia. “I have not been able to digest all of this in a way that satisfies me at all ... I do not think there were reasons given for rushing this through that make sense. I’m going to vote yes, with my fingers crossed.”
But others expressed strong support.
One called it a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
Another called state’s investment modest citing projections that show a 25-fold return over 10 years.
“The winners that we’re picking are West Virginians,” said Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell. “That’s the winners that we’re picking. We’re picking West Virginia. We’re picking 800 careers in West Virginia. Thousands of construction jobs in the state of West Virginia.”
Both no votes came from Republicans -- Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha, and Laura Kimble, R-Harrison. Pritt said he voted against the measure on principle.
“Every last bit that we put toward these incentive programs is less money that can go towards what I think will be real economic drivers, which is lowering taxes and decreasing the regulatory burden,” he said.
The House also gave overwhelming approval to set of related measures that, in part, moved federal funds to help meet the state’s obligation.
The specific intent of the package of bills addressed during the special session is expected to clinch a proposed $2.7 billion investment in Mason County and the Northern Panhandle.
The company investing in the a 1,370-acre plot of land off state Route 2 in Apple Grove was not mentioned during discussions Monday or Tuesday, but lawmakers did say the company’s goal is to be in production in 24 months.
In addition to the 800 full-time positions, lawmakers say the investment would create 1,000 construction jobs.
The company is a steel producer and would become a vendor as well as a customer to other businesses in West Virginia, lawmakers said Monday afternoon.
The company secured funding through the West Virginia Opportunity Zone Incentive.
The West Virginia Opportunity Zone Incentive or HB113 passed June 24, 2019.
In September, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor said it was looking to build a $2.7 billion steel mill in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.
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