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.