CHARLESTON, W.Va–The West Virginia Legislature is rushing through a bill to provide financial relief to businesses hurt by the water contamination problem.

H.B 4175 gives the state emergency powers to provide small businesses loans and grants and to allow those companies to defer payroll tax and consumer sales tax payments to the state.

The toxic chemical spill in the Elk River last Thursday contaminated the West Virginia American Company water system, causing the company to issue a due-not-use order that affected 300,000 West Virginians. The order also forced many businesses to close.

The bill quickly passed through the House of Delegates Committee on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development on Wednesday and was sent to Finance, where it was expected to pass immediately.

“It’s a road map for the governor and his agencies to get small businesses back on their feet,” said Committee chairman Doug Skaff (D-Kanawha).

Skaff said the water problems hit some businesses particularly hard. “Restaurants, salons (and businesses that use a lot of water) were affected the most, and they are really struggling right now.”

The bill also provides an avenue for the state to recover money from Freedom Industries—where the chemical leak occurred—to fund the program.

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  • The bookman


    No, you can't. What you can do is identify through an application process who was in a solid financial situation with a positive profit/loss schedule C or Corporate Net Income return. This shouldn't be a bailout for a business that was failing prior to the water contamination. And it can't be a subsidy for a business that has no track record for success.

  • Ted

    Employees get nothing as always. Even employees working, state or private, get no time off to deal with this crisis. 7 days without a shower, no one cares about personal hygiene. I for one, am miserable.

  • stophating

    Hey Bookman,

    For once we agree on something.

    I read the bill, and to be honest it seems to delegate the authority of the legislature to appropriate funds to the governor--leads me to believe it may not be completely constitutional. I am not a lawyer, just someone who can read.... I'm sure it will go through a number of changes before it comes up for a vote in the house.

    One question I have for you---can you really be certain that any loan will be recovered? (not trying to start an argument)

  • Frank / Moundsville

    What a giant clusterf...k of lawyers and politicians!

  • The bookman

    I agree with you that well operated businesses who are capitalized in their operation would have protections in place. But not all businesses operate that way. I travel to the Valley often and am due there the next few weeks. I won't be consuming anything from a restaurant on my travels, and I would say I won't be alone. This event, when concluded, will have a lasting impact economically for a quarter. Eventually this too shall pass as Chris Lawrence quipped this week. Businesses who otherwise were making ends meet will no longer weather the storm. The employee will be downsized or laid off. Guess who pays for that. State Government.
    If legislation that contains some level of assurance that the loans will be recovered, what would you suggest the possible problems for the state would be? Such assistance could also be structured to only include certain types of business deemed to be at the greatest risk. Rarely does government have the ability to truly make a difference in creating or retaining jobs. Just a thought that this could be one if those instances.

  • GregG

    Three words...........Business Income Insurance.

  • The bookman

    In reading the article, the tools they suggest I would support with the exception of grants. Many small businesses run close margins, and blips like this can really have a pivotal impact on a business. Smart owners would supplement their employees as part of any package they would put together, and an accountable way of repayment to the state should have to be demonstrated. In no way would I support a grant, or more directly, a gift. That I would agree would go straight in a pocket and not into securing a business from closure. Ultimately you must know that a business owner almost always has a level of equity in their business. They are usually not left out in the cold upon closing the doors abruptly. Employees however are generally among those who suffer the most. Think about that for a moment before you slam that door, as your hatred for business owners may be clouding your judgement!

  • Rodney Hytonen

    bull !
    Goverment has NO PLACE helping business.
    None at all.
    They're supposed to protect US, FROM them.

    They should sue Freedom.

  • Rich

    Wonder if Skaff's restaurant will get some of the funds?

  • GregG

    Of course, let's run to aid business. And I wonder if these poor businesses that got hit so hard have being paying there employees through all of this. Do you not think these folks working these low paying jobs aren't struggling too? I'd feel safe in saying that the employees are in far worse shape than the owners. Before I would hand a dime to any business I would require them to compensate their employees for their hours lost. And before King Danny Jones gets one penny for his little Kingdom, the citizens would get a credit for their sewer bill. You just sit back and watch, the only people that are going to get money from this is going to be the Elite Few and businesses. Joe and Jane working middle class won't get a thing for their troubles, hardships and expenses......other than higher water and sewer bills in the months to come.