WV Co-Tenancy Bill Survives Challenge, Amended, Final Vote Today

Two days ago we reported that the West Virginia House of Delegates was due to vote on House Bill (HB) 4268, the “Co-tenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act” (see WV Votes on Co-Tenancy Bill Today; Anti Gets Mouthy, “Dragged” Away). In WV there are often multiple rights owners listed for a property–sometimes 200 or more rights owners for a single piece of property! It is often difficult, if not impossible, to track them all down and get them all to sign on the dotted line. Co-tenancy corrects that situation. A vote by the full House didn’t end up happening on Tuesday, as originally predicted. Amendments to the bill were offered. One of the amendments would have changed the ratio of rights owners who must sign on the dotted line to allow leasing from 75% all the way up to 90%–which isn’t feasible. Fortunately that amendment was voted down 57-40. However, another amendment–to reallocate half of the unclaimed royalties to fund health insurance for public employees including teachers–did pass (50-47). In the original bill 100% of unclaimed royalty revenue was to be used to cap orphan wells. Now the orphans only get half the funding. Perhaps most importantly, an amendment to limit co-tenancy to properties with seven or more rights owners passed 90-6. That amendment is intended to keep WV out of family squabbles, where just a few people own the mineral rights. The now fully-amended, fully-discussed bill is ready for a final final House vote, which is scheduled for today. After the House votes, it’s on to the Senate. Below are reports about the amendment process in the House…

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