Halfway There, Thirty Days
left of 2013 Session
By Gary Zuckett,
It’s now halfway through the legislative session and we
are close approaching several deadlines, the first of which is the March
25th cut-off for introducing bills in both houses. The Senate has
introduces 550 bills and the House did them better with 952 for a grand
total of 1502 pieces of legislation. Many of these are “same as” bills
with the same wording introduced into both chambers. Even if a full
third of those are duplicates that still leaves over 1,000 distinct
bills to monitor. Whew!
The big event this week was Environment Day – E-Day hosted by our allies
at the WV Environmental Council.
Citizen Action and its affiliates, WV Surface Owners Rights Org; Energy
Efficient WV; and WV for Democracy all shared table space in the
rotunda. Lots of old and new enviros showed up to learn and lobby their
legislators and then celebrate at the awards dinner that evening. Check
out the E-Council’s newsletter for details on the awardees.
Our alert yesterday had an announcement of the rally held at the capitol
today to protest both MTR and Marcellus Fracking, but should have
included the name of the group whose announcement we were forwarding:
the Mt Justice Spring Break group that has been camped out in Dodridge
County Park all week. In a rush to get the notice out last evening,
their text was pasted in but no mention of the group of origin. Haste
makes waste, or at least makes dumb errors…
Mt Justice Spring Break students, around 125 total, came together here
in WV from all over the country to learn about the social and
environmental justice issues surrounding both mining and oil & gas
development in Appalachia. We were invited to do a workshop for these
college students on both Energy Efficiency and Surface Owners Rights so
Stacy and I journeyed up to Doddridge on Tuesday to meet with them. It’s
inspiring to see young folks interested in protecting the environment
and keeping our extractive industries accountable.
After the sessions in Doddridge, we were all invited by Diane Pitcock of
WV Host Farms www.wvhostfarms.org
to a Marcellus and Marshmallow roast to both keep warm around a campfire
and hike up the ridge by flashlight to see the Hydrofracking operation
ongoing 24-7 right on her property line. This was the first time I had
gotten close up and personal to an operating Frack job. As we crested
the ridge, floodlights from the 5-10 acre industrial site turned night
into day. Diesel generators roared and spewed exhaust that mixed with
dust from the Frack sand pumps and fumes from the chemicals used to
“stimulate” the formation – all together burning the throat and eyes.
Workers at the site monitored the process without any visible protection
from the Silica dust that causes white lung or from the various toxic
chemicals that, when mixed with the millions of gallons of water, make
up the Frack fluid. In all it was like a scene out of a science fiction
movie, but it’s not a movie, it’s happening all over northern West
Virginia and turning “Almost Heaven” into the opposite for those
unfortunate enough to have one of these uninvited industrial sites on
Next week we’ll be participating in several actions focused on the
Federal Budget and that weird word “Sequestration” that has now jumped
into the news almost every day. See the notices in this newsletter. This
is a struggle between those on the top who think that the way to
stabilize the economy is severe austerity – cutting social programs to
maintain the big tax breaks for millionaires and multinational
corporations. We think that there is a JOBS deficit and WAGE deficit.
Minimum wage should be increased to at least $10.10 an hour. That would
bring it all the way up to the buying power it had in 1968! Go Figure.
We Like Mail
I’m pleased to announce that our Legislative Challenge Fundraising
Campaign has reached 20% f our goal. So far we’ve received over $1,000
from our members and readers to help with the lobby effort. This will be
matched by our cranky challenge donor. Keep those checks coming into
1500 Dixie St. Charleston 25311 or even better, do a quick donation
on-line at www.wvcag.org. Thanks
again to all who have anted up to get their donations matched dollar for
Return to Index
News: House Judiciary Committee Advances Public Financing
By Julie Archer,
HB 2805, making the Supreme Court Public Campaign Financing Program
permanent, cleared its first hurdle of the legislative session
earlier this week when it was advanced by the House Judiciary
Committee on Tuesday. Although consideration was delayed a day, we
are glad to report that things are finally moving forward and
appreciate your help and support in getting to this point. We
couldn't have done it without you.
Since the bill advanced in the House, the Senate Judiciary Committee
did not consider the bill on Wednesday, as we were previously
Our next step in the process in the House Finance Committee and we
need your help to keep the momentum going. Public financing is a key
element in the fight for clean elections and fair and impartial
courts. Please contact committee members and ask them to support HB
2805. A list of committee members and links to their contact
information can be found here:
It’s also important to thank our sponsors and supporters on the
committee – Chair Harry Keith White (D-Mingo), Vice-Chair Doug
Reynolds (D-Cabell) and Delegate Nancy Guthrie (D-Kanawha).
Return to Index
Energy Efficient West Virginia Update
By Cathy Kunkle,
We are continuing to push to get the
integrated resource planning bill (HB 2803) onto the Government
Organization Committee's agenda.
Please contact members of the Government Organization committee in
support of this bill. We have heard that the coal industry is
spreading misinformation that this is an evil bill and that it's
anti-coal, so it is more important than ever to contact members of
the Committee in support. Let the the Committee know that this bill
provides a tool to the Public Service Commission that enables
greater transparency and accountability from our power companies.
Integrated Resource Planning is used by more than half the states in
the U.S. and is an opportunity to keep rising electric rates in West
Virginia in check.
Earlier this week we met with Delegate Manchin (vice-chair of the
House Judiciary Committee) regarding the
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard bill currently before the
Committee. We should know next week whether the bill will make it
onto the Judiciary Committee's agenda.
Return to Index
Sodom and Gomorrah and the
Search for Righteousness
By Norm Steenstra,
There is a story in the book of Genesis in which Abraham tries to
negotiate with God over the potential destruction of the Cities of
Sodom and Gomorrah. God and Abraham dickered back and forth on how
many righteous men it would take to save the towns. God started at
50 souls but Abraham successfully lobbied for just 10. Alas they
couldn’t find 10 people who qualified and fire and brimstone ensued.
I was reminded of that story – concept of a few righteous people
when the WV House of Delegates passed a bill nullifying individual
towns and cities the ability to enact local laws on gun control. As
the rest of the civilized nation is debating the strengthening of gun
laws West Virginia is going in the opposite direction.
Current law in Charleston was enacted in the 1990’s to curtail
multiple hand gun sales to out of state traffickers. The ordinance
limited sales to one hand gun at a time and required a 72 hour
waiting period in order to provide time for an adequate background
check. Three other cities in the state have similar laws.
HB 2760 struck down those local laws and restricted gun sales
control to the least common denominator set by the legislature. Sort
of a one size fits all approach. Keep in mind that the Charleston
law only pertained to handguns. Hunting weapons and even assault
weapons were not affected
Back to the righteous people thing. Only 4 members of the House of
Delegates had the courage to stand up to this NRA backed bill and
vote against it. The 4 righteous ones deserve to be singled out and
lauded. Delegates Nancy Guthrie, Meesha Poore and Danny Wells all of
Kanawha County were joined by newly elected delegate Stephen Skinner
of Shepherdstown in voting against the bill. Sadly, the bill passed
94-4. The bill has been sent to the Senate Government Organization
committee chaired by Sen. Herb Snyder. Let’s hope that he sits on
the bill until the gun debate in Washington is decided.
Return to Index
Reuniting Surface Ownership with Minerals Bill Introduced.
Nearly everyone thinks that separation of ownership of the surface
from the ownership of the minerals was a bad idea. Friday HB 2947
was introduced that gives the surface owners the option to purchase
any interest in the minerals under their land that is sold at a tax
This bi-partisan bill sponsored by delegates Tim Manchin (D-Marion)
and John Ellem (R-Wood) and 6 other delegates would provide a long
needed vehicle to reunite land and minerals. Call your delegates and
members of the House Judiciary Committee and ask them to support HB
Return to Index
Voter ID: An Expensive
Solution Looking for a Problem
By Julie Archer,
If you reviewed our 2013 public policy priorities, you will recall
that one priority under election and campaign finance reform is
opposing voter suppression efforts, such as the misguided proposals
(SB 13, HB 2215 and HB 2350) introduced this session requiring all
West Virginia voters to present an official government-issued photo
ID in order to vote. Proponents say the bill will prevent
voter-fraud and keep people voting under phony names, double voting
and voting from the grave. However, as Secretary of State Natalie
Tennant stated in a recent press release where she vowed to fight
any effort to suppress voter turn out, those who want to impose this
requirement are proposing a solution to a problem that doesn’t
West Virginia already has a good system in place to keep people from
voting if they’re not eligible. Voter ID laws are designed to
prevent a specific type of voter fraud – voter impersonation. But
there are no documented cases of voter impersonation that this
measure this added measure would stop. Although, we have had
election fraud, a photo ID requirement would not have prevented the
recent absentee voting scheme in Lincoln County. If enacted, these
proposed voter ID laws would only serve as a barrier to law-abiding
citizens exercising their right to vote and would disproportionately
depress the votes of the elderly, the poor, racial and ethnic
minorities and students. What’s more, the costs of implementing a
voter ID law easily outweigh its nearly non-existent benefits. As
policy brief released earlier this week by our friends at the WV
Center on Budget and Policy, the cost of implementing such a law in
West Virginia could top $5 million over five years, based on nation
data and the experiences of other states (see
The brief concludes:
“Requiring voter ID places a heavy burden on the state’s resources,
election officials and citizens to ensure that no voter is
disenfranchised. With already low voter turnout, as well as already
strained resources, West Virginia should carefully consider the
costs of a voter ID law. Before diverting resources away from
current needs to implement one, while potentially discouraging
voters and lowering turnout, we should ask if a voter ID law is just
an expensive solution looking for a problem.”
Return to Index
Broad Band of Thieves Selling Our Fortunes
By Maggie Fry,
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day we talked about “jobs” in my
12th grade psychology class. We were just about to graduate, and the
psychology teacher had a standing tradition of publicly predicting
the sort of employment her students would make of their futures.
Before she set about telling us our fortunes (or lack thereof) she
took several minutes to explain that federal researchers had just
surveyed our area and decided that, considering our education levels
and cultural preferences, the telemarketing industry had the best
new plan for the employment of mountain people.
Every now and again, I remember sitting in that classroom thinking,
“Something isn’t right about this.” I remember again now as I try to
encourage CAG members to turn out this Monday, demanding that
Verizon et. al. pay their fair share rather than using the billions
of dollars they’ve made secreting profits away to the Bermuda
triangle to lobby congress for huge cuts to education, healthcare,
emergency assistance, social security and other such programs that
West Virginia desperately needs.
Because, you know, it really would be nice if some year down the
line, we could rest assured that when our kids graduate from high
school they don’t inherit a future hedged between this that and the
other corporate bet on how to best get us to trade our brains for
smart phones and like it on facebook.
Join us in Huntington to say no to Corporate Tax Dodgers:
Monday, March 18th, 3PM
Verizon Wireless Store,
898 3rd Ave, Huntington, WV 257011 7
Return to Index
Public Workers Know That Sequestration Hurts Our Communities
WV-CAG will be sending folks out to support AFGE workers who are
standing up to Sequestration next week in Beckley and Bruston Mills.
If you live in either area, please show your support by standing in
their picket lines.
Wednesday, March 20th beginning at 11am:
Join AFGE Locals 404 and 480, Bureau of Prisons in front of the
Beckley Federal Court House at 110 North Heber Street, Beckley, WV
for a picket focusing on the devastating impact of sequestration to
federal employees, the services they provide and the surrounding
Thursday, March 21st 8am-8pm covering all 3 work shifts:
Join AFGE Local 420, USPS Hazelton outside the gates at 1640 Sky
View Dr, Bruceton Mills, WV 26525 for a picket focusing on the
devastating impact of sequestration to federal employees, the
services they provide and the surrounding communities.
Return to Index
Medicaid Expansion for
West Virginia Offers Public Forum and Training
On April 7th, we will partner with more than 2 dozen organizations
to host the state's largest forum yet on Medicaid Expansion. You
will get all the information and tools you need to become engaged in
our efforts to expand Medicaid to 120,000 working West Virginians
this spring! But you must RSVP first. See below. Confirmed speakers
include a Council of Churches Director Jeff Allen, AFL-CIO President
Kenny Perdue, legislative leaders, a Hospital executive, a business
owner, and families who would be affected by Medicaid Expansion.
RSVP ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/148207112006733/
RSVP BY E-MAIL: E-mail RenatePore@gmail.com with RSVP in the subject
ADD YOUR GROUP AS A SPONSOR (sponsors must commit to bringing at
least 5 people and spreading the word): E-mail RenatePore@gmail.com
with SPONSOR in the subject heading.
Statewide Forum on Medicaid Expansion
Christ Church United Methodist
Sunday, April 7th
2:00 - 3:30pm
(Registration and refreshments starting at 1:00pm!)
Return to Index
Frack Fluid Secrecy: What
Halliburton Doesn’t Want You to Know
As you probably recall, in December 2011 the legislature passed the
Horizontal Well Control Act. Last summer, the Department of
Environmental Protection proposed rules implementing the Act and
those rules are currently before the legislature for approval. The
rules are contained in SB 245, which was passed out of Senate
Energy, Industry and Mining (EIM) Committee earlier this week with
an amendment weakening the provisions that require disclosure of the
chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. What is Halliburton trying
The Dominion-Post had a great editorial on this morning regarding
What don’t they want you to know?
Senate panel mistaken to approve rule requiring fracking fluid be
Ask anyone about the secret to success and they’ll tell you: Shhhh!
It’s a trade secret.
Not really. But you might have walked away from a recent session of
the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee at the state
Capitol thinking that.
Especially, if the members of that panel actually believed the line
of nonsense the world’s largest provider of products and services to
the energy industry was gushing.
And apparently they did.
This week, that eminent committee advanced Senate Bill 245, which
allows the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to put
its 46-page Gas Well Act’s rules into effect.
But one of those rules was subject to amending by Halliburton, the
Houston-based powerhouse. It objected earlier to the rule providing
for divulging its fracking cocktail’s ingredients and
Prior to Halliburton’s pressure, that rule gave operators the option
of naming the chemical recipe as a trade secret, but it would still
be known to the DEP or a health provider in an emergency.
Now, the rule reads that such fracking formulas are not even
available to the DEP, except for the purposes of investigations or
medical emergencies. And if that data is turned over to a health
provider, it requires a physician to ink a confidentiality
agreement, and explain in writing why that information is needed.
So now, it’s possible, this rule could prevent a health professional
from knowing what they are treating until after the fact. Like ...
after their patient’s beyond the point of no return, for example.
Furthermore, the idea that the agency that regulates this industry
is not even privy to such information is ludicrous. Why require an
investigation before the identity and concentrations of these
chemicals is known?
As the fracking fluid rule is stands now, what’s to stop someone
from even using an illegal chemical?
Far be it from us to pretend we are experts on fracking fluids. We
Still, what we do know is many, if not most, drilling operators
already post the ingredients on the Internet they use and the
maximum concentrations in their recipes.
Letting anyone opt out of divulging this information as a trade
secret is, at best, wrong-headed. At worst, a betrayal of the
This is no trade secret. Someone just doesn’t want anyone to know
what it is and how much of it’s being put in the ground. Unlike many
secrets — secret societies, oaths and proceedings — the concept of
trade secrets is not repugnant to us.
However, this does not qualify as one. It’s simply an attempt to
mislead the public. And it’s already even failed to do that.
SB 245 is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. To read more
about what transpired in EIM, click
Return to Index
Lobby Day for Women's Lives
From our Allies at WVFree:
Will you join with us in letting your policymakers know that we support
WOMEN's health and decision-making in West Virginia? With states all
over the country attacking basic reproductive care for women, like birth
control, parental rights, and access to safe abortion services, we need
YOU to stand with us and tell West Virginia Lawmakers-- "Not in MY
Join us on March 26th at the State Capitol for Lobby Day for Women's
Lives. The day will include an advocacy training, visibility event with
posters, lunch and press conference, and meeting with your legislators.
Register NOW by clicking
For more information contact Rachel at Rachel@wvfree.org
or call 304.342.9188.
Return to Index