The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the assistance, promotion, encouragement, development and advancement of economic prosperity and employment throughout this state requires an efficient, coherent, accurate and simplified system for the registration of businesses with state and local agencies. The Legislature further finds and declares that the establishment of such a system will promote consistent, fair and efficient compliance with registration, licensing and other similar statutory obligations by all businesses in the state. The Legislature finds that staff of the secretary of state, the department of tax and revenue and the bureau of employment programs, as well as staff from other state agencies with an interest in the issue, have studied the need for, and the feasibility of, a simplified system of business registration and have designed certain elements of such a system, specifically, a common data base of information regarding businesses registering with said agencies. The Legislature recognizes the need for continued involvement and cooperation by said agencies and it is the intent of the Legislature to build upon the work of these agencies in order to develop a simplified business registration system in the manner contemplated by this article. The purposes of the system created by this article are therefore to make government more responsive to the needs of West Virginia businesses in their dealings with government and to better enable government agencies to assure that all West Virginia businesses comply with legal requirements.
(a) There is hereby established in the tax division of the department of tax and revenue the office of business registration.
(b) For the purpose of designing and implementing the simplified business registration system contemplated by this article, there is hereby established the business registration interagency advisory group, which shall consist of representatives designated by the secretary of state; the secretary of tax and revenue; the executive director of the development office; secretary of commerce, labor and environmental resources; and the commissioner of the bureau of employment programs. The advisory group shall consult with representatives of such other state offices and agencies as necessary to accomplish the purposes of this article. In implementing the simplified business registration system described in this article, the tax commissioner shall be guided by the recommendations of the advisory group.
(c) The office of business registration, with the cooperation and assistance of all interested governmental entities, shall establish a system of centralized records, which may be in the form of a centralized data base, for the acquisition and storage of information the departments, divisions and agencies may require for registration, licensing and other similar statutory purposes related to the initiation of new businesses in West Virginia.
(d) Not later than the thirtieth day of November, one thousand nine hundred ninety-four, the office of business registration shall design a single basic registration information form for the purpose of fulfilling, to the extent feasible, the business registration information requirements of the department of tax and revenue, the secretary of state and the bureau of employment programs. The information to be provided on the form will include the name, address and telephone number of the prospective new business; the standard industry code or codes appropriate to the business; the number of employees of the business; and such other appropriate information. Prospective new businesses must register with the office of business registration and disclose the business registration information required by that office.
(e) For each prospective new business seeking to do business in the state of West Virginia, a record of registration information will be entered into the centralized records or data base for new business registration.
(f) If all of the business registration information required by the secretary of state, the department of tax and revenue and the bureau of employment programs can not feasibly be included in a single form, the office of business registration will include on the single form as much of the information as is feasible and will design a system which avoids, to the maximum extent possible, duplication of effort by businesses seeking to register. No later than the thirtieth day of June, one thousand nine hundred ninety-five, the office of business registration and the advisory group shall make joint recommendations as to additional measures, whether administrative or legislative, needed in order to:
(1) Permit a business to provide all needed registration information in a single step;
(2) Bring all interested governmental entities into the simplified registration system; and
(3) Simplify in any other manner the dealings of businesses with government agencies in West Virginia, with particular emphasis on data management techniques.
(b) Based upon the proposed location, size, number of employees, type of business, standard industry code or codes and other pertinent information relating to the business, each prospective new business, upon having a record established in the centralized records for new business registration, shall be informed by the office of business registration of the state agencies or offices having a registration, licensing and other similar statutory provisions related to the initiation of a new business in West Virginia or other function relating to prospective new business such that the agency or office should by law or regulation be given notice of the establishment or operation of a new business in West Virginia. The office of business registration shall establish a record of the new business in the centralized data base for the use and benefit of any agency or officer of the state of West Virginia having access to the data base and which should by law or regulation receive notice of the establishment or operation of a particular business. The record should contain information necessary to fulfill the regulatory, registration or licensing function of the agency, or in lieu of such information, the name, address and other pertinent information relating to the particular business whereby the agency or office may initiate procedures or make contact with the particular business as is appropriate for the fulfillment of the regulatory, registration, licensing or other statutory duties of the office or agency.
(c) The office of business registration or some other appropriate section of the department of tax and revenue shall provide a list of the names and addresses of all registered businesses located within each county to the county assessor. The list shall be provided at no cost to the county assessor between the first day of July and the first day of August of each year. Any additional list of businesses provided to the county assessor before the next annual list is provided shall be provided at no more than the actual cost to reproduce the list. The production of information required by the provisions of this subsection shall be considered an exception to and not violative of any requirement for confidentiality otherwise established under the provisions of this chapter.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, new business registration information may be disseminated to the state of West Virginia, its political subdivisions, agencies and offices in accordance with this article.
(b) Information from the centralized records for new business registration received by any state, local or municipal agency or office is confidential and the provisions of sections five-d and five-s, article ten of this chapter concerning confidentiality and disclosure of taxpayer information apply to such information.
(a) It is the intent of the Legislature that the staff of the office of business registration established by this article be composed of existing positions within the departments, divisions and agencies of the state whose functions are centralized by this article, and particularly from existing staff of the department of tax and revenue and the bureau of employment programs.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that costs associated with the office of business registration and the centralized records system established in this article be paid, to the maximum extent possible, from existing appropriations to the department of tax and revenue and the bureau of employment programs, except for such additional costs as may be attributable to the development and maintenance of the centralized records system or data base. To carry out this intent, the governor may redirect funds from such appropriations.
It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this article to simplify the methods by which government agencies gather information from businesses for the purposes of registration, licensing or other similar statutory purpose related to the initiation of new businesses in West Virginia: Provided, That this article shall not be construed to change any existing requirement of this code, nor to modify any existing agency responsibility or power, except as may be necessary to simplify the information- gathering functions described in this article.