House Bill 2955 was introduced with the express purpose of authorizing the Division of Mining and Reclamation to raise fees on coal mine operators. To that end, H.B. 2955 included the following fee increases:
- W.Va. Code 22-3-8(a)(4) – permit application fee raised from $1,000 to $3,000;
- 22-3-19(a)(4) – renewal application fees raised from $2,000 to $2,500;
- 22-3-19(b)(2) – applications for significant revision of permit now subject to $500 fee;
- 22-3-19(b)(3) – applications for incidental boundary revisions now subject to $500 fee;
- 22-3-19(d) – applications for permit transfer now subject to $1,500 fee; $1,000 for permit assignment;
- 22-3-19(e) – requests for inactive status now subject to $500 fee.
See H.B. 2955, Introduced Version; available at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=hb2955%20intr.htm&yr=2011&sesstype=RS&i=2955.
While the precipitous increase in mining-related fees imposes unwelcome additional financial burden upon the coal industry, the final version of H.B. 2955 includes a tax credit for investments in mine safety technology to help off-set the burden of the new fees. See H.B. 2955, Enrolled Version – Final Version; available at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=HB2955%20SUB%20ENR.htm&yr=2011&sesstype=RS&i=2955. The final version of the bill includes the fee increases but also amends Chapter 11 of the West Virginia Code by adding sections 11-13BB-1 through 13, which provide the tax credit. The Mine Safety and Technology Task Force is tasked with submitting the list of approved safety technology to the Director for approval. The amount of the credit is equal to 50% of the qualified investment in safety technology and may be applied to reduce a coal operator’s business franchise tax and corporate net income tax over a five year period. The bill is currently awaiting the Governor's signature.
This article was authored by Chris M. Hunter, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author see here.