Still Time to Double Your Donation!
A big thanks to all of you who have
taken us up on the two-fer, double yer money challenge by our cranky
major donor (see
last issue for more details) We still have a ways to go to match
the $5,000 he put up as an incentive for you, our loyal members to
have your contributions to our legislative efforts doubled. Please
take a minute to
donate on line (www.wvcag.org) or send a check (1500 Dixie St.,
Charleston, WV 25311) to keep us going down here at the legislative
sausage grinder. Any amount is appreciated and will be matched!
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2 -- The Dome Heats Up
By Gary Zuckett,
It's now seventeen days into the 2013
legislative session. 1168 bills have been introduced as of this morning
and more will be added to the list for the next three weeks. Keeping
track of all these moving parts is a major task for our lobby team. The
excellent WV legislative web page is a big help for us and all you
citizens out there looking for current information on bills and contact
info for lawmakers. Anyone can set up a person bill tracking list that
the site will keep updated. Click on “Bill
Governor’s Bills in Trouble
Most all of the governor’s bills are now on paper and are causing
heartburn for teachers, solar advocates, prison reformers and many
others. His alternative fueled vehicle tax credit bill
HB2506 totally eliminated existing tax credits on electric powered
cars in favor of those run by (you guessed it) natural gas. Even the
coal lobby has enough sense to realize that promoting electric plug-in
cars in WV usually means burning more coal. I’m assuming they’ve pointed
this out to our coal-field governor.
Teachers groups are unhappy with the governor’s 170 page
SB369 because they say it guts the hiring process (set up to prevent
nepotism) and does nothing to address the top heavy state administration
that eats up a large amount of funds that could be going into the
classrooms. This will be a knock-down fight between organized labor and
the governor it supported in the last election.
Tomblin’s prison reform bill was panned in an ACLU alert yesterday “…his
criminal justice reform bill does nothing to fix the problem, and his
latest budget dumps millions of dollars into building new prison beds
while cutting funding for low-cost, effective alternative punishments.”
Who is giving him all this bad advice?
One of the governor’s bills that hasn’t surfaced yet is the one to
privatize Brownfields clean up now done by the WV-DEP. If it’s as bad as
last year’s bill, we’ll have yet another one to fight over. Geesh!
Coal Don Gets Heat
Speaking of Coal, today’s
that Baron Von Blankenship (former Massey CEO) was directly implicated
“…in a decade-long conspiracy to hide safety violations from federal
(mine) inspectors.” We hope this Don may soon be joining the others who
now enjoy three squares a day courtesy of the nearest federal
Solid Waste Ethics
“State Finds no Ethics Violation” was the Daily Mail headline clearing
Greg Sayre, Director (and lobbyist for) of the WV Assoc. of Waste
Haulers and Recyclers, of using his position on the Kanawha Co Solid
Waste Authority for personal (or business) gain. Hogwash! Sayre’s
Association has for years been one of the major obstacles to public
recycling efforts around the state and at the state legislature. This
group is one of the major reasons that we don’t have a bottle bill in WV
(they must see it as a threat to their profits collecting aluminum &
other metals). Having Sayre as the Dept. of Environmental Protection
appointee to this public board is a joke and the governor should tell
the DEP to toss him back to the private solid waste pile where he
belongs. Kanawha County citizens should call the governor on this one!
Many public libraries in our populous counties are wondering how the WV
Supreme Court decision that allows the Kanawha School Board to pull out
historically required funding will play out in their area. The
legislature should address this problem this session to keep all our
public libraries solvent.
Remember we’ve gone to an every-other week publication of Capitol
Eye. Make sure you are signed up on our “alert list” to get up to the
minute news on public hearings and actions needed to be a citizen
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Rivers Coalition Responds to Toxic Selenium Bill
By Angie Rosser, Executive Director West Virginia Rivers
The West Virginia Rivers Coalition is the statewide
advocacy organization focused on protecting state waters. Despite
HB 2579’s title, this bill actually undermines the protection of
state waters. The bill poses a serious threat to the health of our
waterways and citizens by weakening the standards for selenium
discharges into rivers and streams.
Selenium discharges from coal mining operations have already
contaminated rivers and streams in West Virginia, such as the Ohio River
and Mud River. The Upper Mud River Reservoir attracts anglers, but the
fish are not safe for human consumption because of selenium poisoning.
Yet this proposed legislation seeks to further degrade our water and
quality of life.
Citizens deserve the government’s protection from dangerous toxins
such as selenium that is known to cause damage to humans and aquatic
life. WVRC urges the committee to take time to fully examine scientific
research to determine selenium standards that are safe.
In addition to health concerns, there are severe financial
consequences to consider. Selenium contamination is very expensive to
clean-up. This bill would cost the state millions of dollars to try to
restore water to health following selenium contamination – a concern to
Healthy rivers and streams play a large role in the state’s outdoor
recreation economy which generates annually over $2 billion in wages and
salaries for West Virginians and $532 million in state and local tax
revenue1. We simply cannot
afford to allow our "wild and wonderful" become a contaminated
On behalf of West Virginians who enjoy and use our state’s
exceptional rivers and streams, please reject HB 2579 and give thorough
consideration to protective water quality standards that are in the best
interest of West Virginia’s health and long-term prosperity.
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Today, a series of arbitrary, across the board cuts—called a sequester—
kicks in that will cost 750,000 jobs, according to the non-partisan
Congressional Budget Office, and threaten the economic security of
working families. These cuts will cause suffering for middle-class
families, seniors, children and people with disabilities. In West
Virginia, local families are bracing for reductions in services and
A $3.6 Million reduction in funding for
children with disabilities; and 40 teachers & staff
could lose their jobs.
A $160,000 reduction in funding for
nutrition programs for impoverished and homebound
A $669,000 loss in funding for public
health issues such as natural disasters, HIV screenings
and substance-abuse prevention and treatment.
A $52,000 loss in funding for children’s
vaccinations that will result in 760 fewer children
getting protection from mumps, measles, whooping cough
and other contagious illnesses.
site for a complete list of immediate West Virginia State cuts
Citizen Action Director Gary Zuckett thanked our two US Senators for
voting with the majority in the Senate who favored a plan that would
have replaced this sequester with a combination of spending reductions
and revenue increases. Two-thirds ($54 billion) of the $85 billion in
cuts would be eliminated by requiring millionaires to pay at least a 30%
income tax rate (the so-called “Buffett Rule”), just slightly above the
28% marginal tax bracket of millions of middle-class Americans. Zuckett
also called on the House to find similarly balanced solutions to avert
the cuts. Although the legislation failed because of a Republican
filibuster in the Senate, the debate about avoiding cuts and addressing
the nation’s larger fiscal challenges rages on.
“Either Congress can keep protecting big tax loopholes for millionaires
and multinational corporations, or protect West Virginia’s seniors, kids
and working families from these cuts. It’s just common sense: if we
can’t afford teachers, vaccinations for kids and Meals on Wheels, then
we can’t afford to keep giving breaks to the richest Americans and
corporations,“ said Zuckett.
Instead of cuts like those detailed above, Congress should, besides
enacting the Buffett Rule:
Limit tax deductions for the richest 2
percent, as the President has proposed, which would
raise more than $400 billion and make the tax system
fairer and simpler;
Close loopholes that allow corporations
to ship profits – and U.S. jobs – overseas to avoid
paying U.S. taxes. We lose $100 billion a year in taxes
from this loophole;
national survey by Hart Research shows 66% of voters nationwide say
that the richest 2% should pay more in taxes and 64% of voters believe
large corporations should pay more in taxes. Congress has already cut
$2.50 in spending for every $1 it has raised in new revenues; they have
already achieved $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction since 2011,
according to the
on Budget and Policy Priorities. Of that amount, about $1.5 trillion
has come from spending cuts and another $600 billion from new revenues
on the richest 1%, with the remainder coming from related interest
savings on the debt.
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Guns, Butter and the Sequestration
By Norm Steenstra,
During the Viet Nam war years the country debated the issue of our
ability to afford both the cost of fighting the war (guns) and the
various social programs addressing the War on Poverty (butter). A
similar policy debate is now occurring as the nation slides into
Sequestration. Massive across the board budget cuts are mandated for
both social programs and defense spending.
Last Thursday a roundtable discussion entitled “Potluck Budget - Who
goes hungry? “ was held in Charleston sponsored by Patriots for
Peace, West Virginia FREE and West Virginia Citizen Action. Speakers
from social service organizations such as Covenant House, WV Women
Work, WV Health Right and Manna Meal outlined how essential the
Federal Block Grant funding is to their operations. Each of the
groups asked representatives from both Senators Rockefeller and
Manchin to help keep federal funding from being cut through
sequestration. “These programs offer life-saving services to those
who otherwise would be falling through the holes of our social
safety nets,” explained Gary Zuckett, Executive Director of WV –CAG.
“These groups should be receiving more funding and not worrying
about automatic cuts to the Federal funds they depend on,” he added.
A “Table Setting” symbolizing program cuts and Pentagon Spending
at Wednesday’s Roundtable.
The logical place to look for federal savings without cutting social
services is the Pentagon Budget, which is proposed to receive 57% of
all federal discretionary funds in 2013. Cutting the pork out of the
Pentagon was the major theme at the roundtable. Historically as past
wars ended, the military budget was significantly reduced and more
public resources were directed to domestic needs. Yet today, there
are many in Congress that are actually advocating for an increase in
One thing to keep in perspective in dealing with the required
sequestration cuts is that the US spends more than the next 13
countries combined on defense. The fundamental question is –does the
US remain the police force of the world at the expense of police on
our streets and adequately funded local social programs? Much of the
Pentagon budget needs rethinking. Do we need all of our current
strategic nuclear warheads? Do we still need to maintain and operate
11 separate aircraft carrier groups? Could we possibly defend
ourselves with 7 nuclear missile submarines instead of the current
14? The world has changed since the cold war. Threats have morphed
into smaller more regional concerns.
Meals for the poor, health care and job training for those who need
it most coupled with a smarter, leaner and cheaper post cold war
weapons program seem to make more sense. Communications to your
member of Congress and Senators Manchin and Rockefeller are
important to this debate.
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Forget to Sign Our Petition for Clean Elections, Fair Courts
By Julie Archer,
WV Citizens for Clean Elections' petition to The West
Virginia House of Delegates, The West Virginia State Senate, and
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin now has nearly 200 signatures -- 3 times
as many as we had just a few days ago! Please help us keep up the
momentum and show your support of Clean Elections, by signing the
here to add your name to our petition:
If you've already signed the petition, you can help us get more
visibility for this issue by writing a quick letter to the editor.
Decision-makers regularly read letters to the editor to see what
residents are talking about.
You don't need to write a lot. Your letter should be no more than a
few sentences and it should reiterate the main message of the
petition, which is:
"Please pass the bill that would make permanent the successful
program for a public campaign finance option in state Supreme Court
elections. We need fair and impartial courts and clean elections in
West Virginia to make sure outside money is not corrupting our
democracy. Make this program permanent and expand public finance to
here to find your local newspaper and submit your letter:
Thank you for making your voice heard on this important issue.
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From Our Allies at WVFREE: Support SB22 Maternity Coverage for
We all agree our daughters deserve the best: So, why
are they singled out from receiving insurance coverage for
Despite an increasing amount of teen pregnancies, many young,
pregnant women do not have access to pregnancy care. In fact, the
West Virginia’s Public Employees’ Insurance Agency (PEIA) does not
cover pregnancy care for dependent daughters. Don’t our state
employees and our daughters deserve better?
West Virginia’s Senate Banking & Insurance Committee is taking up
this issue of pregnancy care coverage for daughters on Monday, March
11th at 2pm in Room 208 West at the State Capitol and they need to
hear from you!
Can you call and email the members of
Senate Banking & Insurance? Tell them: I support
Senate Bill 22:
Maternity coverage for dependent daughters and I hope you will too.
Early access to prenatal care is fundamental in ensuring that a mom
has a healthy baby. And when we don’t provide coverage for this care
we put moms and babies at risk for further health problems and cause
undue financial stress on West Virginia families and our state
call the members of Senate Banking & Insurance today and tell
them to pass Senate Bill 22: Maternity coverage for dependent
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Planning Bill to Be Introduced Next Week
by Cathy Kunkle,
and Stacy Gloss,
Energy Efficient West Virginia has been garnering support for our
integrated resource planning bill, which will require utilities to
evaluate investments in energy efficiency as part of their long-term
planning processes. The bill will be introduced next week by
Delegates Manchin, Iaquinta, Mary Poling, Guthrie, Marshall, and
Manypenny. We will update you next week with how you can support
this bill, once we know which House committee will be taking it up.
In other news, EEWV volunteer Chris Shepherd hosted a presentation
in Morgantown earlier this week to talk about how MonPower is
working to raise electricity rates by 6% to transfer ownership of
the Harrison power plant from a deregulated subsidiary of
FirstEnergy onto WV ratepayers. An AP article by Vicki Smith was
picked up by news outlets across the country found
More information about our intervention in MonPower’s proposal at
the Public Service Commission can be found on
Volunteer with Energy Efficient West Virginia this coming Wednesday,
March 6th 4:30pm - 7:00pm to help us phone bank our members list to
rally support for energy efficiency bills! To help with this event
please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pizza will be provided.
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Contact House Rules
Committee to Advance Resolution to Overturn
HR 9, the House Resolution to overturn Citizens United (and similar
rulings) is now in the House Rules Committee, and we need you to
make some calls to ensure that WV goes on record demanding the right
to a democracy not overshadowed with dark money.
As we mentioned last week, West Virginia's efforts to become the
12th state on record to to adopt a resolution for a Constitutional
amendment abolishing corporate personhood is making a splash in the
media. Let's keep the momentum going -- contact the
committee with a simple message, "When dark money floods our
democracy, the people of West Virginia suffer. Pass HR 9."
Next week, the Senate, with the support of Senate President Jeff
Kessler, will introduce their version of the resolution. We
will keep you posted on its progress.
Senate President Jeff Kessler speaks in favor
of a Constitutional Amendment overturning Citizens United
February 19th Rally For Democracy.
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