W.Va. House passes small business relief bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Legislature is fast-tracking a proposal to help small businesses affected by disasters like last week's chemical spill.

The House of Delegates on Thursday unanimously passed a bill to give the governor leeway to assist businesses during emergencies. The bill lets the governor set emergency criteria for state agencies to award small business loans and grants, or even waive some taxes temporarily, like the payroll tax.

The bill is a quick response to the chemical spill last Thursday that sullied the water supply for 300,000 people. About 70 percent of customers in that water system have received approval to use running water.

The House waived its rules to quicken the process. Thursday's vote sends the bill to the Senate. It's unclear when the Senate will take it up.

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