CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A battle is brewing among West Virginia Democrats over whether to continue giving tax credits to people who buy electric and hybrid electric cars.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proposed a bill in February that would eliminate that credit and give credits solely to cars that run on natural gas, propane or butane.
On Friday, the West Virginia Senate Transportation Committee revised Tomblin's bill to restore the tax credit for electric cars as well as for solar, hydrogen and liquid coal-fueled vehicles.
The committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans adopted the changes by a unanimous voice vote.
Tomblin's original bill also would have made the change retroactive to Jan. 1 so that anyone who has bought an electric or hybrid vehicle this year would lose the credit that they thought was there.
Republican Sen. Bill Cole said the changes should not be applied retroactively. Cole, a car dealer, said he liked parts of the bill but thought it was the federal government's role to promote new technologies.
For passenger cars, the tax credit is worth 35 percent of a vehicle's purchase price, up to $7,500.
Tomblin's bill also eliminated a credit for installing a home refueling station for alternative fuel vehicles. The committee version restored that credit.
Tomblin's administration proposed the changes to the 2011 law because they said it was costing more than expected. They also said the original intent was to promote cars that run on natural gas, which is produced in the state.
Tomblin's original bill was projected to save $10 million in the next fiscal year and more than that in subsequent years.
Sen. Robert Beach, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said he spoke with various individuals and agencies who wanted the tax credits preserved.
"We believe the bill motivates individuals into stepping up and developing some of those natural resources that we have," Beach said.