Randy Yohe Published

Social Security Tax, Broadband Pole Attachments, Gravesite Visits On House Agenda

man with glasses and suit and woman with glasses and black top discussing an issue, looking at a piece of paper
Gravesite visit bill sponsor Del. Amy Summers, R-Taylor, discusses issue with House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay.
Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

Among the bills on third reading in the House of Delegates Thursday were: cutting the Social Security tax, getting all that broadband fiber optic cable on poles, and making it easier to visit certain gravesites.

Phasing out the personal income tax on Social Security earnings over three years to zero is the gist of House Bill 4880.

West Virginia is one of 10 states still taxing Social Security at all. 

Del. Larry Kump, R-Berkeley, said that issues regarding taxation on Social Security or any pension or retirement program really “grinds his gears and gives him legislative heartburn.” 

“We’ve been fooling around with this taxation issue on Social Security for many years now,” Kump said. “I’m grateful that we’re going to be doing some more on it. We should be doing it more quickly and taking care of the issue completely, since all our surrounding states do not tax Social Security benefits.”

House Bill 4880 passed 96-0 and now goes to the Senate.

One of the biggest challenges to getting statewide broadband connection is attaching fiber optic cable to utility poles when the poles are either undersized or overcrowded. House Bill 4706 creates the Utility Pole Rights of Way and Easement Mapping Initiative. Del. Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, said the bill he sponsors helps cut bureaucratic red tape.

“The big issue with pole attachments has been the regulatory side of it, and how long it takes to get approved to even begin construction,” Linville said. “The intent of this bill is to make it a lot easier and to provide that data that we already have, that the poll owners already have to potential attachers. That means broadband companies that want to go do construction, and hopefully speed up that process.” 

House Bill 4706 passed 96-0 and goes to the Senate.

House Bill 4008 amends the time required for providing notice of an entry on to land for visiting a grave from 10 days to not three, but five.

Del. Amy Summers, R-Taylor, and an amateur genealogist, said the bill she sponsors covers more than just visiting a grave.

“In West Virginia [and] Pennsylvania, there’s a lot of graves on private property,” Summers said. “For you to be able to go there and tour, you have to give this 10 day written notice to the landowner. This is not only just about visiting, but it’s also about burying. That’s why I had that for three days before the Judiciary Committee changed it to five. Right now the funeral home has to hold the body for five days where they may not have to otherwise make arrangements to bury on a gravesite on private land, but this is an improvement.”

House Bill 4008 passed 95-0 and also goes to the Senate.