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UPDATE:

Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 4175 during the Jan. 16 floor session of the Legislature.

In state of emergency situations, Delegate Brent Bogss, D-Braxton said "the Governor is to direct the Division of Homeland Security and emergency management, in consultation with the Secretary of Revenue...to establish the criteria under which financial assistance can be provided."  

No specific funding source or allocations for funding were outlined in the bill. Currently, the discretionary power of where the money comes from and how it is allocated lies with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. 

Boggs used a tax credit, reimbursement on taxes and the Raney Day fund as possibilities for revenue sources. 

Criteria for compensation and the amount or pool of money were also not outlined in the current bill. 

Currently, the bill relates solely to small businesses and not individuals. In order to resume normalcy and restart the Mountain State's economy, small businesses were the area of focus. At a later date, it is not out of the question that the bill will include individuals as well.

Individuals should be able to receive federal unemployment disaster assistance. 

The bill first passed the Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee and then the House Finance Committee.

It now will go to the Senate for its consideration.

 

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UPDATE:

The West Virginia Small Business Emergency Act, House Bill 4175 unanimously passed in the Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee Jan. 15. It will be moved to the Finance Committee.

The West Virginia Small Business Emergency Act was introduced in the House of Delegates during its Jan. 15 session.

The legislation, House Bill 4175, is aimed at providing immediate financial assistance to small businesses during times of emergency.

Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, and chairman of the House Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Economic Development Committee, said the recent water crisis has shown how damaging such an emergency can be to small businesses, many of which were still closed six days after the initial "do not use" water order was given.

"We want to create a mechanism that allows the state to offer immediate financial help to small businesses so owners can take care of looming expenses despite being forced to close for a period of time," Skaff said.

The legislation would allow the governor to provide immediate emergency financial assistance, such a grant or a no-interest loan, to small businesses located in areas under a State of Emergency.

The bill was scheduled to be debated in the committee's meeting at 2 p.m. Jan. 15.

House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said he hoped the bill would provide "a safety net to help them pay their bills and stay in business."

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5:16 p.m., Jan. 10:

House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, and members of the House of Delegates leadership team plan to introduce legislation that would provide immediate financial assistance to small businesses in emergencies.

In light of a chemical leak that left the water supply in crisis for more than 100,000 West Virginia American Water customers in Southern West Virginia, Miley announced he and his leadership team have begun working on legislation to help small businesses in such times of emergency.

"Small businesses are the backbone of West Virginia, and we certainly cannot afford to jeopardize losing any because of this kind of emergency," Miley said. "A lot of small businesses during certain times of the year will have cash flow problems, so an event like this can be devastating."

The proposed legislation will come from the House Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Economic Development Committee, to develop a Small Business Emergency Relief Fund.

The committee's chairman, Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, who is a small business owner himself, said the assistance could help businesses pay for rent or utilities in times of crisis.

"These small businesses don't always have the luxury of drawing from large cash reserves or lines of credit in order to get by," Miley said. "We want to be able to help them quickly meet their cash flow needs in the short term while they deal with a crisis situation like this."