Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 26, 2013

Buchanan County Board of Supervisors plan to hire lobbyist

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

GRUNDY, Va. — Following a special call meeting on Friday morning that spread into the early afternoon hours, the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors authorized County Administrator R. Craig Horn to announce that the county plans to hire a lobbyist to represent Buchanan County’s interests in the 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly.

Horn said during a telephone interview following the closed session of the call meeting, that the county has concerns about two identical bills in the Senate and House — State Senator Ryan T. McDougle’s SB 1111 and Delegate Robert D. Orrock Sr.’s HB 1846 — dealing with local gas severance taxes.

“If the bills pass the way they are written, it will affect everyone who receives a gas royalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Horn said of the companion bills. “The way the bills are written, they would allow the gas producers to deduct depreciation, maintenance, property taxes, return of investment, and more from severance taxes. There wouldn’t be much left.

“I don’t know if Senator McDougle (R-Hanover) and Delegate Orrock (R-Spotsylvania) are not familiar with our area or what, but if those bills pass the way they are written, it would make it difficult for us,” Horn said. He speculated that the bills may have emerged because the price of gas is down.

Horn said that the county is working with Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, who also has a bill that was submitted as a holder that could serve as a substitute for the bill now under consideration. However, as it stands now, it contains the same language as the McDougle and Orrock bills.

The announced call meeting agenda also included an item related to coal legislation, but State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, said that after negotiations with coal companies, it appeared that the coal issue has been resolved. Horn did not mention any concerns about the legislation involving coal.

Both Orrock and McDougle’s bills are in the committees of finance in each respective legislative body.

— Contact Bill Archer at´┐Ż