Action Alert

February 27, 2003

You'll probably be getting more action alerts from us now that during rest of the session - the pace is picking up as the end of the session looms ..... two important bills are still very much alive and the time is now to make your calls!! Please scroll down for more on the overweight coal truck bill (bad) and tobacco tax bill (good). Call or e-mail your senators and delegates today!

WE GOTTA STOP SB 583!

The coal industry is trying once again to have its illegal activities decriminalized with SB 583. This legislation is all about increasing the weight limits for coal trucks without regard for public safety and at the expense of West Virginia taxpayers. You can help stop this outrageous bill by contacting your legislators. The message they need to hear is to oppose SB 583 and any legislation that would increase weight limits for coal trucks. Itís ridiculous to try to end the overweight coal truck crisis by raising the weight limits; when a 120,000 pound coal truck hits a school bus, it wonít bring back any of the kids if the truck was legal.

Your calls and e-mails are needed now more than ever. SB 583 is greased and we need to turn up the heat on our elected representatives. A groundswell of public opposition stopped a weight increase from passing the legislature last year, but apparently our elected representatives think the public has forgotten. They need to be reminded that West Virginians are for public safety and against heavier coal trucks. Please contact your legislators right away. The bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday and our best guess is that the full Senate will vote on the bill on Friday.

The bill is moving fast, changing often, and its hard to know whatís in it on any given day. When SB 583 was first introduced it had none of the governorís safety provisions; they are in now. Early versions established an ďextended weight coal haul road systemĒ in twelve southern counties (Boone, Fayette, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming). On Wednesday the bill was amended in Senate Finance to include four more counties (Clay, Greenbrier, Nicholas and Webster). You arenít safe just because you donít live in the southern coalfields.

We need you to:

1. Make calls and send emails, early, often, and repeatedly. Calls and emails to anybody at all in the legislature and governorís office are worth making. We are doubtful that we can stop it in the Senate, but they need to hear from us anyway, so they canít say they didnít. Our best bet to stop it is in the House, so if you can only make one call, call your delegate. Itís hard to predict which committee itís going to, but Judiciary seems to be a likely choice. Obviously, stopping it in committee would save a tough floor fight. Caputo, Brown, Webster, Mahan, Thompson, and Fleischauer are reliable votes for our side, and while they probably will appreciate thanks for fighting the good fight, they donít need pressure. Potential swing votes on Judiciary are Craig, DeLong, Ellem, Foster, Hrutkay, Morgan, Palumbo, Pethtel, Pino, Stemple, Armstead, Calvert, Overington, Shadler, Smirl, and Webb. These are the most important calls you can make. If any of these delegates represent you, call them, and get everybody else you can to call them. Amores and Faircloth will probably vote for a weight increase, but theyíve been on the right side of other issues and there may still be hope for them. Coal truck owner Steve Kominar undoubtedly will vote the wrong way, but if you feel like unloading on a bad guy, call him at home this weekend.

2. Show up Tuesday at noon at the Capitol. The UMWA is organizing a rally in front of the governorís office. They are really good at getting people out, but we need to get our people out, too.

3. If thatís not enough, for this as for all issues, the strongest statement you can make is to show up in Charleston and visit your legislator. If you want to do this, give us a call or drop us an email, and we can help you find your way around.

Legislatorsí office and home numbers are available on our home page, www.wvcag.org (see the blue box in the side baróbut remember, the only home number you should use is Kominarís). You can also contact legislators toll free at 1-877-565-3447. Legislators' individual office numbers can be obtained by through the toll free number.

You might want to call or write Governor Wise, even though heís probably made up his mind. He had serious problems with early versions of the bill, and we think he threatened to veto the really horrible first version; but amendments to the bill have addressed the governorís concerns and heís back on the coal bandwagon. You can leave him a message by calling 1-888-438-2731 or 558-2000. He needs to know that a weight increase is unacceptable, even with these safety and enforcement provisions.

To e-mail the Governor and each Senate and House member from your area, log on to the UMWA web page at www.umwa.org. Then scroll down and click on the action link. Next, click on the county in which you reside. The letter is already written for you. All you need to do is type in your name and address and click send.

You can also e-mail all your representatives in one click by going to www.wvcag.org and entering your zip code in the space provided.

This is a very important issue. Please make your voice heard. Tell West Virginia lawmakers not to legalize killer coal trucks on West Virginia roads.

TOBACCO TAX MAKES IT OUT OF SENATE FINANCE!!

SB 105, the tobacco tax bill, passed the Senate Finance Committee yesterday. It will go to the Senate floor for a vote before the end of the week. We need your help to get this bill out of the Senate!

The message for the senators is PASS SB 105 WITH NO AMENDMENTS. I have provided the direct number to each office, the toll-free number is perpetually busy at this point. Even if you have called before, PLEASE call again today.

***The following senators need to hear from their constituents today:

1) Senator Caldwell, District 10 (Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Fayette,

Mercer ) 357-7957

2) Senator Harrison, District 8 (Kanawha) 357-7841

3) Senator Love, District 11 (Fayette, Clay, Nicholas, Webster, Upshur)

357-7849

4) Senator McKenzie, District 1 (Hancock, Brooke, Ohio) 357-7984

5) Senator Minard, District 12 (Lewis, Gilmer, Braxton, Harrison) 357-7904

6) Senator Ross, District 15 (Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy, Grant,

Pendleton, Randolph, Pocahontas, Upshur) 357-7973

7) Senator Smith, District 4 (Jackson, Putnam, Mason, Roane ) 357-7843