WV Citizen Action Group
Action Alert
March 25
 Alert Archive


Crunch Week
By Gary Zuckett, garyz@wvcag.org

Today was the last day to introduce bills in both the House and Senate and the list was long and varied from the good – HB 3102 – Raising the Minimum Wage & HB 3080 improving the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards; to the silly – HB 3094 requiring pedophiles to wear GPS collars and yes, yet another restrictive Voter ID proposal.

Committees will be frantically working long hours this week because Friday is the last day for bills to pass out of committee(s) to have time to go through their required three readings on the House or Senate floor and be voted on by “Crossover Day” (Wed. April 3rd) when all bills not passing out of their house of origin are considered dead for this session.

We are also hard at work trying to shepherd our flock of bills through this gauntlet. Friday’s newsletter will share our successes but also may contain the obituaries of several of our initiatives if our efforts this week fail to get them moving fast enough to make the cut.

This is one of the times where your input can be very helpful so please read on to see which issues move you to action and then make those calls to Delegates and Senators right away!

Green Energy Helps Too!
Another way to help the cause is to pony up some green to help us defray the expenses of fielding our team of five registered lobbyists from Citizen Action. (Just getting everyone registered cost us $1,000) Remember that our cranky major donor has put up a $5,000 challenge daring you all to take him up on matching, dollar for dollar, your contributions during the session. Make him pay up by sending in a check to 1500 Dixie St, Charleston, 25311 or on-line at www.wvcag.org. Thanks again to all who have sent in their support!

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Clean Elections Bill Awaits Action by House Finance Committee

HB 2805, making the Supreme Court Public Campaign Financing Program permanent, is now awaiting action by the House Finance Committee. We are facing a deadline of Friday, March 29 for the committee to consider and send the bill to the full House for a vote.

Please contact committee members and ask them to support HB 2805 (see sample message below). A list of committee members and their contact information can be found here:


Thank you for making your voice heard on this important issue.

Sample Message:

Dear Delegate ___________,

Please support of HB 2805, which would make permanent the successful program for public financing of state Supreme Court elections.

In response to scandals involving the state Supreme Court and former Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship, the legislature established the public financing program to help restore confidence in our judiciary -- making us an example for the rest of the country. We need fair and impartial courts. Making this program permanent will help ensure outside money is not corrupting our judiciary.

Thank you for your consideration.

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Put energy efficiency on the House Judiciary Committee's agenda!

Contact House Judiciary Committee in support of H.B. 2210
The legislature has the opportunity to protect residents and businesses from rising electric bills. West Virginia's residential electric rates have risen more than 50% in the past five years. Yet, as electric rates continue to go up, our power companies are largely overlooking the cheapest resource: energy efficiency. Just as utilities can invest in new power plants, they can also invest in reducing electricity use. Utility efficiency programs are paid for through electric rates, just as investments in power plants are - but energy efficiency investments cost customers less than half the cost of producing the same new electricity in a power plant.

H.B. 2210 would require the Public Service Commission to establish long-term energy savings goals for utilities to meet by investing in energy efficiency programs. Such programs might include home energy audits by local businesses with rebates for efficiency improvements, incentives for the purchase of EnergyStar appliances, custom incentives for energy efficiency projects undertaken by industrial customers, etc. West Virginia's electric utilities already offer far more of these types of programs in other states where they operate than they do in West Virginia.

Please take two simple steps to make sure H.B. 2210 is passed this week:
1. Email members of the House Judiciary Committee. Follow these simple instructions to do so.
2. Email or call Judiciary Committee Chairman Tim Miley and ask him to put a strong version of H.B. 2210 before his committee for a vote. Del. Miley can be reached at tim.miley@wvhouse.gov or 304-340-3252. Here is a sample script you can use when you call: "I support HB 2210, the West Virginia Energy Efficiency Act, which would lower electric bills by requiring our utilities to invest in energy efficiency. Please put this bill on the Judiciary Committee's agenda."

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Reminder About Lobby Day for Women’s Live ~ Tomorrow, March 26

A Women’s Health WARNING from our friends at WV Free: If you do not participate in Lobby Day for Women's Lives you will forfeit an opportunity to support positive change for women and families in West Virginia during a time of immense attacks and apathy.

Seem a tad dramatic? Perhaps, but then again, have you heard what's going on?

Currently in West Virginia we face:

• A state budget that slashes funding for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention.
• Insurance companies that discriminate against our daughters and refuse them pregnancy     care coverage.
• The need for quicker treatment of STIs.

It's time we tell West Virginia legislators, "We care about the women in our lives and we want state policies that reflect our values."

Join us at Lobby Day for Women's Lives this Tuesday, March 26th. Click here -- http://bit.ly/10IqzfV -- to sign up now for all or part of the day. Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with more details about the day’s activities.

If you can’t make it to Charleston, please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose policies that put a woman’s health at risk and support those that focus on prevention and increase access to health care and education. Tell them to protect women’s health by:

Supporting Maternity Coverage for Dependent Daughters (HB 2383 & SB 22)
These bills would require insurers, including PEIA, to provide coverage for maternity care for all individuals covered under a policy, if the policy covers maternity care. Given the high rate of teen pregnancy in West Virginia, we must ensure teens have access to maternity care. Inadequate prenatal care contributes to poor health for young mothers and poor birth outcomes for babies, including premature and low-weight births. According to the Marshall University Center for Business & Economic Research, for every $1 invested in maternity care, $2.50-$7.00 is saved.

Supporting Expanded Treatment for STIs (HB 3020 & SB 201)
These bills would allow health care providers to prescribe antibiotics to the partner of a patient who has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) without first examining the partner. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended this practice, called expedited partner therapy (EPT), since 2006 because it greatly reduced reinfection rates of STIs. STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea pose a serious threat to public health. Given the increase in the se STIs in West Virginia, we must take pro-active steps to increase access to treatment and reduce their spread.

Opposing Cuts to Funding for Domestic Violence Programs (Budget)
The Governor’s proposed budget would cut 7.5% from essential programs to prevent and address domestic violence. WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence member programs provide free and confidential services in all 55 counties, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to more than 18,000 West Virginians need, including nearly 3,000 children. The WV Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program reported over 50% of homicides in 2011 were directly related to domestic violence. In 2012, 27 deaths were directly related to domestic violence. Given these statistics, we must continue to invest in initiative to combat domestic violence and protect women and children in West Virginia. 

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Volunteer for Fairness

Fairness West Virginia is working hard to pass the Equal Housing and Nondiscrimination Act this session, and are looking for volunteers. EHDNA (HB 2856) would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the state of West Virginia.  Here is a short message from Fairness:

Already, voters have made over 800 calls to their representatives in support of bringing fairness to all West Virginians, regardless of sexual orientation.

Be a part of this historic campaign by following this link and volunteering this week at a Fairness phonebank near you: http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35039/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=2197

Continue building the momentum by letting your representative know that House Bill 2856 must pass for all West Virginians. Click this link to send a message of support for this legislation to your representative.

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Call on Senator Manchin not to Sign on to Bad Chemical Bill

Our friends at the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition have this update on the overhaul of the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act:

Senator Vitter, the Republican sponsor of the bad chemical bill, has been looking for a Democrat to join him.  

Please call Kelly Goes or Sara Payne Scarbro in Senator Manchin's office at 304-342-5855.

Here is a sample script, but please feel free to give your own story, too!


"My name is _____ and I live in _______. As a WV voter, I'm urging Sen. Manchin NOT to sign on to Senator Vitter's toxic chemical bill. I am glad that Senator Manchin has said "No" up to this point, and I hope he will continue to say no...and instead support the Safe Chemicals Act.  The Safe Chemicals Act is the one that is best for our kids and families."


For more information, contact Steven Smith from the Healthy Kids and Families Coalition

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Public Hearing on Compassionate Cannabis Thursday

The legislature will hold a public hearing on the Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis. HB 2230, introduced by Delegate Manypenny, specifies medical conditions, licensing procedures, and compassionate facilities requirements for the medical use of marijuana.  The public hearing will occur in the House Chambers, Thursday at 4:00pm.

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Call to Reign in Wasteful Pentagon Spending

The Budget debate in Washington gives us a rare opportunity to speak out on the issue of bloated Pentagon spending and call for reason and moral guidance in setting our national priorities.

Please take a few minutes right now to call Senator Manchin and ask that he support raising revenue for domestic social programs by advocating meaningful cuts to the Pentagon.

Leave him a message (see below for sample) by calling 888.872.1238

Next send us a note to Maggie@wvcag.org to let us know you’ve called. Thanks!

Senator Manchin, I am shocked that America’s defense spending is equal to the next thirteen largest nations combined and yet some lawmakers have the audacity to claim that we need to cut Meals on Wheels in order to fix the national debt. This makes no sense and it’s just plain wrong.

Clearly, we can cut wasteful pentagon spending without endangering the lives of our citizens or our national defense; however, cutting education, healthcare, childcare and care for the elderly puts millions of people in serious jeopardy. The vast majority of Americans will suffer if congress continues down this immoral path.

Please stand up for ordinary, hardworking West Virginians and demand that obsolete, overpriced weapons and pentagon programs are cut from our budget. We don’t need a bigger military, we need security at home.


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Say No to Dumping Electronic Waste!

SB 449 is moving through the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill removes the ban on dumping TVs, computer monitors and other electronic devices in landfills. Although the 3 year old ban has been problematic to local governments and to the public, the reuse, recycling and eventual disposal of electronic devices by a reputable company is preferable to dumping heavy metals and mercury in landfills that will eventually leak its toxins into the ground water. If you agree call your senators and tell them to vote against SB449. Be prepared to carry the fight to the House of Delegates next week. 

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Did You Do Your Part to Expand Healthcare to 120,000 West Virginians?

Within the next two weeks, the Governor will likely decide on Medicaid expansion in West Virginia.  Don't miss out on your opportunity to make sure that 120,000 West Virginians have access to healthcare.

Call the Governor at 304.558.2000 or send him a letter at www.medicaidexpansionwv.org.

Next meeting Monday, 1030am, in the Capitol cafeteria (in the basement, below the Rotunda).

Also, don't miss the Statewide Forum and Training on Medicaid Expansion. 

Sunday * April 7 * Charleston
Christ Church United Methodist, 1221 Quarrier
2:00pm – 3:30pm (Registration and Food start at 1:00pm)

To find out more, email renatepore@gmail.com

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From Buffalo Creek to Broadway

From Buffalo Creek to Broadway, A Visit with “Miracle Baby” Kerry Albright (free event)

Who: “Miracle Baby” Kerry Albright hosted by OVEC, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

When / Where: 7 to 9 p.m. March 26, West Virginia Culture Center Theater
Speakers: Kerry Albright
                   Maria Gunnoe, organizer with OVEC
                   Jack Spadaro, mine safety and health specialist

Film: Clips from Mimi Pickering of Applashop’s film  The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man

Why: 41 years have passed since the Buffalo Creek disaster, but many dangers to communities still persist. Albright understands the need for greater protection from the dangers of coal sludge impoundments and underground coal slurry injection.
OVEC believes the current moratorium on underground coal slurry injection should be made permanent and that coal companies should be moving to dry press technologies for processing coal prep plant waste. Nothing like Buffalo Creek should ever happen again.

More Info: Just before 8 a.m. on Feb. 26, 1972, coal slurry dams constructed by Pittston Coal collapsed, unleashing a deadly flood of coal waste on Buffalo Creek in Logan County, W.Va. About 132 million gallons of water and coal waste thundered down the hollow from Saunders to Man. 125 people died, 1100 were injured, 16 communities were obliterated and 4,000 people were left homeless.

Kerry Albright was only 9-months-old that day. Just moments before the tidal wave of coal waste took her life, Albright’s mother had thrown him as far as she could up an embankment. Albright’s brother perished at his mother’s side.

As soon as the dark floodwaters receded, townspeople began to search the devastated valley for survivors. The local preacher and his son saw what they at first thought was the leg of a doll protruding from the muck. They pulled baby Kerry from the mire, and cleared the muck from his mouth. It had been 20 - 30 minutes since the wall of coal waste passed through, but baby Kerry gasped for breath.

Albright was dubbed the “Miracle Baby.”

Kerry’s father, Robert Albright had sacrificed much of his health to provide for the family he loved. Now, with the oldest son’s death in Vietnam, all the members of his family except for Kerry were gone forever. “It was just like a whole lifetime went with a snap of a finger,” the elder Albright said. “I killed myself working up there in those lousy mines – but they only killed me little by little. I tell you, if it wasn’t for that child, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

The January 2013 issue of Reader’s Digest published Kerry Albright’s story. On February 26, the West Virginia Legislature marked the 41st anniversary of the Buffalo Creek Disaster by presenting Albright with a Legislative Citation.
Albright currently lives in New York City, where he is an opera singer, story-teller, actor and dancer. He has appeared in Broadway shows.

Learn more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpsR6vOY87o
http://storiesoffaithandcourage.blogspot.com/2013/01/kerry-albright-miracle-baby-of-buffalo.html 1

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