The state Senate defeated an amendment to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's bill meant to increase the required investment for cities seeking special tax districts.
House Bill 2508 would require cities to have $75 million in capital investments before the state could approve a "tax increment financing" district for the municipality. The state currently requires only $25 million in capital investments.
Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, proposed an amendment on the Senate floor Thursday that would have knocked the required investment back to $25 million.
Senate Minority Whip Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, stood to support Sypolt's amendment. He said the original intent of TIF districts is to spur economic development.
"I see most of you are from rural areas. And I don't think any one of you would argue that $25 million is a heck of a big project in most of our communities," he said.
Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said Sypolt's intentions were good but $25 million is too low for an effective TIF district. He said one "big box store" would meet that threshold in a small community.
Sypolt's amendment was defeated by a voice vote. The TIF bill will be up for final passage in the Senate today.
* * *
The state Senate also reversed changes to another of the governor's bills allowing tax credits for film and television production companies working in West Virginia.
House Bill 2514, requested by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, originally cut in half the total amount of money available through the Film Industry Investment Act from $10 million to $5 million. But during its time in the House, delegates amended language in the bill allowing companies to recoup 27 percent of production costs, cutting that reimbursement to 21 percent.
The Senate on Thursday changed the bill, returning the reimbursement rate to 27 percent.
Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said there was no reason to reduce the reimbursement rate since the original bill already reduced the total amount of money available through the tax credits.
"We're just trying to stay competitive with the states around us," he said.
* * *
Republicans tried to change a number of bills on the House floor Thursday, hitting on several hot button issues. None of the attempted changes passed, and most were easily defeated.
A change regarding public funding for abortions came the closest to passing. Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, tried to amend the House budget bill so that it would eventually prevent any state funds from going to abortions.
He and other Republicans argued federal rulings left the door open to define a time period for state funding, and his amendment aimed to make that time period finite.
House Democrats opposed the move. Finance Committee Chair Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, said the budget was not a place to make policy changes.