West Virginians Will Vote on Taxes, School Initiatives November 8th

October 20, 2022

Mountaineer News

WV General Election

West Virginians will vote on four constitutional amendments, ranging from business taxes and the authority of the state school board, during the November 8th elections.

Amendment 2, which has been the most contentious ballot initiative, would allow the legislature to exempt certain business properties from local property taxes. The potential exemptions would cover machinery, equipment and inventory taxes paid by businesses. The amendment would not immediately establish any exemptions, but instead would give lawmakers the power to vote on which properties are exempted.

The amendment garnered support from Republican legislative leaders and some business groups, but has faced fierce opposition from Gov. Jim Justice, who is also a Republican, and organizations that represent the state’s county governments.

Lawmakers and business groups that have spoken in favor of the amendment have argued it would incentivize businesses to move to the state and could boost the economy. County governments have cautioned it would centralize the taxing power in Charleston and the governor has warned passing these exemptions would make it impossible for the state to afford to eliminate the income tax, which is one of his top priorities.

Jessica Dobrinsky, a policy analyst at the free-market Cardinal Institute, told The Center Square the amendment encourages discussion on the best way to cut taxes.

“Effective tax reform has the potential to help all West Virginians,” Dobrinsky said. “Whether its lowering individual rates or providing further flexibility for businesses, Amendment 2 encourages discussion on how best to spend and save state dollars. Rather than looking to increase taxes, the state is making efforts to reach the end goal of effectively repealing the income tax.”

Another amendment that has drawn controversy is Amendment 4. It would subject rules and policies from the Board of Education to oversight from the legislature. It would require the board to submit all rules and policies to the legislature for approval, amendments or rejection. Under the current constitutional language, the board does not need approval from lawmakers in such decisions.

The proposed amendment has garnered support from some lawmakers, but opposition from the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch.

“The establishment of our system of government provides each branch the individual power to check the others, preventing any one branch from removing liberty from its people,” Dobrinsky said. “Amendment 4 would allow additional legislative check and balance systems on the executive and promote parental empowerment for families across the state.”

Amendment 1 would prevent courts from ruling on impeachment proceedings from the state legislature. If the amendment is approved, courts would not have any authority over such proceedings and decisions from the lawmakers would be final. The amendment received support from Republican lawmakers, who hold a strong majority in both chambers of the legislature, but opposition from Democratic lawmakers who are in the minority.

The least contentious amendment is Amendment 3, which would get rid of the state ban on incorporating churches and religious denominations. Supporters of the amendment have argued the prohibition discriminates against religious entities by putting restrictions on how they can operate. The amendment has received support from the West Virginia ACLU and most lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Early voting begins October 26th in most counties and election day is November 8th.

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