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Southwest Virginia Supervisors Oppose Coal Severance Bill



By Jim Talbert

April 7, 2021 - Tazewell County supervisors have joined their counterparts in Russell and Buchanan County in opposing the governor’s changes to the bill eliminating the coal severance tax.

The board issued a press release just prior to its April 6 meeting opposing the bill which will be taken up in the April 7 veto session of the house and senate. House Bill No. 1899 and Senate Bill No. 1252 would terminate the Coal Employment and Production Incentive Tax Credit and Coalfield Employment Enhancement Tax Credit after tax year 2021 and would prohibit allocation of those tax credits after January 1, 2022.  The proposed budget by Governor Ralph S. Northam would allocate the annual projected budgeted amounts for those tax credits to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, beginning January 1, 2022.  Those budgeted amount would total approximately $7,400,000 through June 30, 2025, and would total approximately $6,500,000 annually, beginning July 1, 2026.

Tom Lester, chairman of the Tazewell County board said the governor’s proposal would impose substantial, devastating impacts upon Southwest Virginia’s coal industry and the great number of businesses that rely heavily upon the coal industry.  Should Governor Northam be inclined to sign the bills into law, a committee has already been designated under the bills to determine how to best spend budgeted funding.  Allocating the budgeted amounts to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, without considering input from the statutorily created committee, would be premature.  There are a multitude of needs in Tazewell County and in Southwest Virginia that could be addressed with such substantial funding.”

The board passed a resolution opposing the bills at its April 6 meeting. Supervisors in Buchanan and Russell County passed similar resolutions earlier in the week.