WEST virginia legislature
2020 regular session
House Bill 4574
By Delegates Hansen, Skaff, Tomblin, Miller, Bates, Evans, Hornbuckle, Anderson, Cooper, Miley and S. Brown
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article designated §5B-2J-1, §5B-2J-2, §5B-2J-3, §5B-2J-4, §5B-2J-5, §5B-2J-6, and §5B-2J-7, all relating to establishing a program to facilitate the recovery of areas of the state that have been impacted by the reduction of coal production and consumption; providing legislative findings; establishing a Coal and Timber Transition Office to administer the program; providing for a Coal and Timber Transition Advisory Committee to study and advise the office; defining terms; requiring submission of plans to the Legislature; providing that certain coal operations, timber operations, and electric utilities provide information to the office relating to job losses when a facility is closing; and providing for expiration of the article.
CHAPTER 5B. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1985.
Article 2j. TRANSITION SUPPORT FOR COAL AND TIMBER RELATED JOBS.
§5B-2J-1. Legislative findings.
(a) Since employing 63,000 workers in 1978, employment in West Virginia’s coal industry has declined. In 2018, only 12,000 workers were employed at West Virginia coal mines.
(b) The nation’s power sector is moving away from its reliance on coal. Since 2009, approximately 300 coal-fired power plants have shut down putting a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business. The coal industry powered approximately half of the nation’s electricity generation for decades, however by 2017 the coal industry declined to account for only a quarter of all electricity generation. Predictions of the future of the coal industry are that coal-based electricity generation may fall to as low as 11 percent of the nation’s total generation by 2030 and be eliminated in future years. The closure of coal-fired power plants nationwide has and will continue to have a serious impact on employment in West Virginia’s coal mines and the transportation and logistics supply chains that move coal from mine to market.
(c) One of the oldest and largest industries in West Virginia is the timber and wood products industry. West Virginia is the third most forested state in the United States. West Virginia is rich in this renewable natural resource, but the housing downturn hit the industry hard. Additionally, industries reliant on the timber industry have been hit hard, including Mineral County, where a 130-year-old paper mill closed.
(d) The effects of the decline of timber and coal industries are vast. Workers and their communities have already experienced significant negative consequences. Closing coal mines, retiring power plants, and the timber industry were principal contributors to their communities’ tax base and provided revenue for vital local government services. This revenue needs to be replaced with new robust economies.
(e) Coordinated leadership within West Virginia by state government, businesses, workers, and other members of the communities impacted is essential to minimize the effect of the decline in the timber and coal industries.
(f) A strong and comprehensive policy is needed to direct financial resources in communities affected by the decline of the coal and timber economy. With the proper support, reliant communities can diversify and grow their local and regional economies in a manner that is good for both those communities and other communities in West Virginia.
(g) West Virginians are resilient and will thrive despite the decline of the coal and timber industry.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
“Advisory committee” means the Coal and Timber Transition Advisory Committee established pursuant to section four of this article;
“Coal-related employment” means employment in the coal industry, including downstream and upstream industries reliant on coal;
“Coal and Timber Transition Plan” means the plan outlined in section five of this article, in draft or final form, prepared by the Advisory Committee and submitted by the Director as provided in section four and section three of this article;
“Department” means the Department of Commerce;
“Director” means the director of the Coal Transition Office;
“Impacted community” means a county that has been determined by the Director to have had or is expected to have significant loss of coal-related or timber-related employment that has not exhibited signs of recovery from the loss of jobs, taxes, and population that resulted from the loss of coal-related employment;
“Impacted worker” means a West Virginia worker laid off from coal-related or timber-related employment and who has not found employment;
“Office” means the Coal and Timber Transition Office created in section three of this article;
“Secretary” means the Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Commerce;
“Timber-related employment” means employment in the timber industry, including downstream and upstream industries reliant on timber; and
“Workforce Transition Plan” means a plan submitted by a coal mining operation, electric utility, or timber-related operation as outlined in section six of this article.
§5B-2J-3. Coal and Timber Transition Office established.
(a) There is hereby created within the Department of Commerce, a Coal and Timber Transition Office.
(b) The Secretary of the Department shall appoint the Director of the Office. The Director shall manage the operations of the office.
(c) It is the purpose of the office to:
(1) Identify or estimate, to the extent reasonably practicable, the timing and location of facility closures and job layoffs in coal-related or timber-related employment in impacted communities, and their effect on impacted workers, businesses, and communities, and together with the Advisory Committee provide planning and make recommendations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance as to how the office, the department, and other state agencies can most effectively respond to these economic dislocations;
(2) Provide administrative, logistical, research, and policy support to the Advisory Committee’s work as established pursuant to section four of this article.
(3) Based on the draft Coal and Timber Transition Plan recommended by the Advisory Committee, pursuant to section four and section five of this article, and with the approval of the Director and the Secretary, on or before December 31, 2021, the Director shall submit to the Governor and Joint Committee on Government and Finance a final Coal and Timber Transition Plan for West Virginia.
(d) After the final Coal and Timber Transition Plan is submitted, the office shall continue to conduct studies and facilitate resources for impacted communities to:
(1) Facilitate new and diverse economic activities;
(2) Facilitate planning for the management and redevelopment of former coal mines, former coal-fired power plants, paper mills, lumber mills, residential housing, and commercial building stock in the impacted community;
(3) Provide assistance to local governments to facilitate economic development and diversification, planning, and the preservation and revitalization of local community assets and resources; and
(4) Provide assistance to facilitate the retraining of impacted workers.
§5B-2J-4. Coal and Timber Transition Advisory Committee established.
(a) There is hereby created the “Coal and Timber Transition Advisory Committee” to develop and recommend a Coal and Timber Transition Plan for the State of West Virginia.
(b) The Advisory Committee consists of the following members:
(1) The Commissioner of the Division of Labor or a designee;
(2) The Director of the Office of Economic Development or a designee;
(3) The Director of the Department of Commerce or a designee;
(4) One representative of the Office of the Governor;
(5) One member of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate, and one member of the House of Delegates, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and
The following members, to be appointed by the Director:
(6) Two representatives who live in an impacted community and operate a business in an impacted community.
(7) Three representatives of impacted workers from impacted communities, one of whom shall be from the largest labor union representing coal miners;
(8) Two representatives with professional economic development or workforce retraining experience; and
(9) One representative of utilities that, on the effective date of this section, operated one or more coal-fueled electric generating units.
(10) One representative of the coal industry that, on the effective date of this section, operated one or more coal mines, a downstream industry reliant on coal, or an upstream industry reliant on coal.
(c) The Advisory Committee shall elect a chairperson and vice chairperson from among its members to serve for a term not to exceed two years, as determined by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee shall meet at least once every quarter. The chairperson may call such additional meetings as are necessary for the Advisory Committee to complete its duties.
(d) Each member of the Advisory Committee is entitled to receive reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses pursuant to §4-2A-6 of this code.
(e) The Advisory Committee may engage additional nonvoting members or advisors and provide additional expertise as needed.
§5B-2J-5. Coal and Timber Transition Plan.
(a) The Coal and Timber Transition Plan drafted by the Advisory Committee shall include, at a minimum:
(1) Grants and other local, state, federal, and other sources of funding that the office shall identify, coordinate, and implement pursuant to the authority of this article to provide assistance to impacted communities, including the establishment of grant programs to help impacted communities, and recommendations to align and target existing local, state, and federal funding resources and leverage additional funding resources to support impacted communities and impacted workers;
(2) Other programs and activities that the office shall coordinate and implement pursuant to the authority of this article to provide assistance to impacted communities, and recommendations to align and target existing local, state, and federal programs and activities and establish additional programs and activities to support impacted communities and impacted workers; and
(3) Recommendations for legislation, studies and other activities at the initiative of the office and under the direction of the Legislature that require additional legislative authority or appropriation to implement; and
(4) Planning of and facilitation of innovative land use and economic development activities that impacted communities can use to diversify their economies.
(b) In developing the draft Coal and Timber Transition Plan, the Advisory Committee shall identify and consider:
(1) The projected short-term and long-term costs and benefits to the state of each plan component, and other supports;
(2) Potential sources for sustainable short-term and long-term funding for a Coal and Timber Transition Plan and its components;
(3) The potential fiscal, economic, workforce, and other implications of extending components of the Coal and Timber Transition Plan to other sectors and industries affected by similar economic disruptions; and
(4) Which components of the Coal and Timber Transition Plan can be implemented under existing authority and which require additional legislation.
(c) Prior to final adoption of the Coal and Timber Transition Plan, the Advisory Committee shall hold at least three public hearings in the state, with at least one hearing held in each congressional district of the state.
(d) On or before July 1, 2021, the Advisory Committee shall present its draft Coal and Timber Transition Plan to the Director of the Office.
(e) The Advisory Committee shall deliver a yearly report to the Governor and the Joint Committee on Government and Finance by December 31.
§5B-2J-6. Coal mine, electric utility, and timber Workforce Transition Plans; reemployment of affected workers.
(a) The following entities shall submit a notification to the office and to County Commission a Workforce Transition Plan within the specified time period:
(1) Coal mining operations, within 60 days of submission of a federally mandated Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification of plant closing or mass layoff of an any surface; underground coal mining operation pursuant to United States Code 29 U.S.C. §2101 et seq., or
(2) Electric utilities, within 30 days after the approval to accelerate retirement of a generating unit by the utility’s governing body and in no case less than six months before the retirement of an electric coal-fueled generating unit that has a nameplate capacity of at least 50 megawatts; or
(3) Logging companies, paper mills, sawmills, and other timber related manufacturers, within 60 days of a federally mandated Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification of plant closing or mass layoff of an any surface or underground coal mining operation pursuant to United States Code 29 U.S.C. §2101 et seq.
(b) To the extent practicable, a Workforce Transition Plan must include estimates of:
(1) The number of workers and contractors employed at the facility;
(2) The total number of workers who will be retrained; and
(3) The total number of workers who will be eliminated as a result of the closure of the surface or underground coal mine, or retirement of the coal-fueled electric generating facility.
(c) With respect to the workers whose existing jobs will be eliminated, the total number and the number by job classification of workers:
(1) Whose employment will end without them being offered other employment;
(2) Who will retire as planned, be offered early retirement, or leave on their own;
(3) Who will be retained by being transferred to other facilities or offered other employment by the operator; and
(4) For any coal-fueled electric generating facility, the number of workers who will be retained to continue to work in a new job classification; and if the electric utility is replacing the coal-fueled electric generating facility being retired with a new electric generating facility, the number of:
(A) Workers from the retired coal-fueled electric generating facility who will be employed at the new electric generating facility; and
(B) Jobs at the new electric generating facility that will be outsourced to contractors or subcontractors.
§5B-2J-7. Expiration of article.
The provisions of this article shall expire and be of no force or effect, effective January 1, 2026.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.