WV Legislative Conclusion / Summary
March 12, 2023 - The 2023 Regular Legislative Session concluded Saturday, March 11, with several pieces of important coal and energy legislation passing both houses of the Legislature.
Importantly, the Association successfully passed significant legislation to address manpower recruitment, public energy education, and marshalling state resources to preserve West Virginia coal markets; expansion of ESG restrictions on state investments; “deliberate intent” reform under the state’s Worker’s Compensation program and state coal power plant preservation and grid reliability.
A total of 759 bills were introduced in the Senate with 92 or 12% passing. 1,558 bills were introduced in the House of Delegates with 158 or 10% being adopted. Once adjourned the Governor has 15 days to sign legislation into law, veto or simply allow enrolled bills to become law. As of today, 40 bills have been signed into law by the Governor Justice and two have become law without his signature.
Additionally, several provisions of the state’s mine safety laws were discussed in different legislative forums and ultimately were referred to the state Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety for resolution. These topics include age requirements for mine rescue members, expanded role of belt examiners and the training and supervision of apprentice miners (see attached document for a discussion of these issues). Also attached is a letter from Chris Pence discussing the proposed deliberate intend changes in HB 3270.
WVCA-backed Legislation and other energy-related bills we were involved with that were adopted by both Houses include:
- HB 2862 ESG and proxy voting by the WV Investment Management Board and WV Board of Treasury
- HB 3303 Reactivating and repurposing the Coalfield Community Development Office
- HB 3308 Coal Plant Securitization
- HB 3482 “Coal Fired Grid Stabilization and Security Act of 2023”
- HB 3270 Deliberate Intent
- SB 609 Public Energy Authority Approval of Power Plant Closures
- HR 12 (Pleasants Plant) Encouraging Mon Power to purchase the Pleasants Power Station
- HB 3012 Rare Earth Elements Severance Tax Exemption
- HB 3130 WV Coalfields Energy Research and Economic Development Authority to focus on energy develop projects in the state’s coalfields.
A more detailed synopsis of each bill is provided below:
- House Bill 2862 requires the WV Investment Management Board and the WV Board of Treasury to fully consider the impact on the state’s fossil fuel industry before casting proxy votes on behalf of state investments. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb2862%20sub.pdf
- House Bill 3303 Reactivating and repurposing the Coalfield Community Development Office to coordinate federal energy grants, work with end users of coal-fired coal consumption, develop an energy public relations program and develop a mine training and recruitment program. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3303%20sub.pdf
- House Bill 3308 which authorizes the PSC to securitize the unusually high “unrecovered” fuel charges and PJM market purchase costs reported by our two regulated utilities (AEP and First Energy) in 2021-2022 and the remaining rate recovery related to the Effluent Guideline & Coal Combustion Residual investments at five of our in-state power plants, The bill will allow the PSC to approve securitization plans submitted by the utilities to spread the costs over an extended period, avoiding a 15-30% increase in state electric rates. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3308%20sub%20enr.pdf
- House Bill 3482, incentivizing the development and construction of new coal fired power plants The bill is “companion” legislation to a similar bill, Senate Bill 188 that was passed by the Senate earlier incentivizing the development and construction of new merchant gas plants. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3482%20intr.pdf
- House Bill 3270 Deliberate Intent would cap non-economic awards at $500,000 and require claimants to demonstrate “Fraudulent” behavior on behalf of mine operators to file coal pneumoconiosis claims. Several adverse amendments to the original House legislation were defeated or removed by the Senate. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3270%20sub.pdf
- Senate Bill 609 which would prohibit the decommissioning or closure of existing power plants without the prior approval of the West Virginia Public Energy Authority. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3270%20sub.pdf
- House Resolution 12 http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=hr12%20intr.htm&yr=2023&sesstype=RS&i=12&houseorig=h&billtype=r, which encourages Monongahela Power / First Energy to acquire the Pleasants Power Station with consideration of bringing into the regulated plant structure
- House Bill 3012 would exempt Rare Earth Minerals and critical elements essential to technology products and national security from severance tax for nine years. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3012%20sub%20enr.pdf
- House Bill 3130 created the WV Coalfields Energy Research and Economic Development Authority to focus on energy development projects in the state’s coalfields. http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Bill_Text_HTML/2023_SESSIONS/RS/bills/hb3130%20sub.pdf
Major Coal – Energy Legislation that Did Not Pass
Mine Health and Safety Issues Being Discussed
Analysis of Proposed Changes to Deliberate Intent