Session Ends With a Cliff Hanger
by Gary Zuckett,
Thankfully, the 2013 regular session ended on midnight, April 13th, but
not without some drama on one of our bills. As often happens, one of our
major bills was still in process on the very last day. This year it was
the Supreme Court public financing bill – the one to make last year’s
successful pilot project a permanent option for candidates to our
highest court. As Norm mentions in his article, Julie, our Clean
Elections guru, got this one passed with dogged determination and skills
honed by years of lobbying on this issue. Well done!
Out of the 1829 bills introduced, only 216 completed the legislative
process – a little less than 12%. Considering some of the screwball
bills introduced, this ratio is a very good thing. The system is set up
to intentionally make it hard to pass legislation. The idea being the
process will sort the wheat from the chaff. However, this doesn’t always
work. More on that later…
Looking over our policy priorities this was a better year than last as
far as getting some progressive bills passed. Maternity Coverage for
Dependents passed this year requiring PEIA (state workers health
insurance) to cover pregnancies of dependents on their parents’ plan.
This is a great public health issue – Kudos to WV-FREE and Planned
Parenthood for leading the charge!
In addition to the Public Financing Bill, our Resolution opposing
Citizens United vs FEC and corporate personhood, that we first
introduced last year, passed both the House and Senate! Both HR9 and
SR24 will be delivered to the President and all our congressional reps
asking them to sign on to one of the several bills to fix this floodgate
of corporate mystery money into our elections by a constitutional
amendment. WV is now the 12st state in the nation to officially call on
Congress in this manner!
The Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant, got 15 of her 17 bills passed,
many dealing with various aspects of the election process. Most notable
are ones which will allow on-line voter registration, streamline the
process for cleaning up registration rolls and remove deceased voters
(to keep them from voting from the grave as has happened in the past).
The Secretaries coalition to oppose voter ID and other suppression bills
was also successful in holding off such moves from conservatives. We
were at the table with other allies on this effort.
On the not-so-good column, several other good issues were not
successful. The Fairness WV bill to include sexual orientation to the
existing non-discrimination policy at the workplace and in housing was
removed from the roster by it's sponsor when Transgendered individuals
were dropped from the House's version. The Future Fund, an excellent
proposal to take a small portion of our mineral severance taxes and put
it into a trust fund for future economic development, didn’t make it
through. On the upside of failed bills, one that were hoping would meet
a swift demise, this one yet another tax break for burning coal in WV
power plants, was killed by the Senate after sailing through the House.
As related in our last newsletter, our bills on energy efficiency were
painted with the dreaded “anti-coal” label and set aside by the
legislature. See www.eewv.org for more on this.
Then there were the ones that passed that we’re very unhappy about. The
“Haliburton Rule” that keeps secret the “proprietary mix” of chemicals
that Frackers pump down Marcellus and other gas wells to stimulate
production, was slipped into a DEP Rules bill at the last moment. Also
the Selenium Bill that starts a research process in DEP that will allow
a weakening of limits of this substance in our streams. In all, the
environment took a hit this time around. However, it would have been
worse without the dedication of the E-Council, Rivers, Sierra Club,
WV-SORO and individual citizens who came up to lobby against the horde
of bad environmental bills. See www.wvecouncil.org for the gory details.
Most progressive lobbyists up there agreed that this was one of the
toughest sessions in memory. The recent rise of the Tea Party
Conservatives in gaining seats in the House put a chill on many
progressive issues and focused much of the debate on wedge issues such
as guns and reproductive rights.
Speaking of guns, of the many pro-gun bills, the worst one that finally
made it though was amended into the Home Rule bill that allows cities
some leeway in taxation and other matters. Delegate Lane from Kanawha Co
got the amendment passed on the floor and it will allow those with a
concealed permit to carry guns into public swimming pools, state and
county parks, and lots of other places where we really don’t want them.
In addition, it forces communities like Charleston that has had a three
day waiting period and one-per-month limit on handgun sales since the
90s to repeal it to stay in the Home Rule program! We’re asking the
governor to veto this damaged bill and send it back to the legislature
to fix it:
Finally, A big thanks to all you citizens who came down to the capitol
to keep your lawmakers in line. We are also grateful to the many that
sent in donations to cover the cost of our legislative team and the
updates and newsletters. There is still time (but not for long) to help
us capture the rest of the $5,000 pledge to match all our donations
during the session. This is your last chance to have you contribution
doubled! Send your checks to 1500 Dixie Street, Charleston WV 25311.
Hold the date: See note inside for our Spring Fling Awards Dinner on May
17th at the Woman’s Club here in Charleston!
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Victory for Clean Elections
by Julie Archer,
In case you haven't heard the news -- on Saturday the WV
State Senate passed HB 2805, 30-4, making the WV Supreme Court Public
Campaign Financing Program permanent.
You can see the roll call vote here:
It was down to the wire, as we cleared our last legislative hurdle
before this important vote just two days earlier, when HB 2805 was
advanced by the Senate Finance Committee with no amendments. The final
vote came after a last minute attempt by opponents to derail the bill by
to amending it on the third reading.
Fortunately, this attempt failed because HB 2805 had strong bipartisan
support in the legislature, as well as the support of the Secretary of
State and 29 organizations who are very excited to see West Virginia
taking this important step to keep special interest money out of the
courtroom and to maintain and improve the integrity of our state’s
Thanks everyone, for your part in making this victory possible. Now we
wait for the Governor to sign the bill.
In addition to HB 2805, other significant election reforms that were
sent to the Governor include:
SB 604, which restores various types of non-broadcast media – mass
mailing, telephone banks and billboards – to the definition of
“electioneering communication” in West Virginia’s disclosure law. The
House narrowly approved the bill 52-47 following a lengthy floor debate
during which Republicans argued that such rules stifle political speech,
because groups that engage in these activities must disclose the
identity of their donors.
SB 527, updating the process by which vacancies in elected office are
filled. The bill was prompted by a series of special elections triggered
by the death of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd in 2010. The bill requires
most elections to fill vacancies to be held in conjunction with
regularly scheduled elections, but sets procedures for special filing
periods and holding special elections that cannot be held with in the
specified timeline to fill a vacancy for a particular office.
SB 477 would allow for electronic registration of voters. According to
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, this bill is pro-citizen, pro-county
clerk, pro-Secretary of State, pro-progress because it saves everyone
time and money. The bill creates a more efficient means for submitting a
voter registration application and reduces the risk of an application
getting lost in the process. It still allow for the use of the current
We look forward to celebrating these and other legislative victories
with you at the Spring Extravaganza on May 17.
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Archer the Arrow Shooter
by Norm Steenstra,
WV-CAG began working on election reform back in the mid 90’s. We along
with OVEC formed the People’s Election Reform Coalition –PERC. A couple
of years into the PERC work a young, recently unemployed Julie Archer
began volunteering at CAG, and as poet Robert Frost wrote “ and that has
made all the difference”.
Julie began her CAG “career” by entering data on campaign contributions
to all legislative candidates of the 1998 election cycle. As a result of
her efforts we identified which special interests contributed to the
various candidates and used that information to discredit some very bad
PERC and Julie continued its data base work through several more
election cycles and Julie evolved into the lead legislative force in the
campaign to pass the Clean Election bill that provided public financing
for candidates. A less inclusive bill creating a “pilot” project for
Supreme Court was passed under her leadership in the 2010 legislative
session. In 2012 one person used the public financing method and
although grossly outspent now sits on our Supreme Court.
This past session Julie led the team that successfully lobbied for the
public financing for Supreme Court races to become a permanent fixture
in the West Virginia political process. WV-CAG members and citizens
across the state need to know that Julie and her team were relentless in
their efforts. In 21 years of lobbying I have never witnessed such
dedication and skill by anyone who kept their eye on the prize like
Julie did this year. Mountaineers everywhere owe her a heartfelt “ATTA
“An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something. That
person is not usually motivated by a need for power or money or fame but
in fact is driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some
unfairness, so much so that he or she is compelled by some internal
moral engine to act to make it better”.- Eve Ensler
Julie Archer is our slightly mad activist this year!
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We Really Stomach Higher Electricity Bills?
By Stacy Gloss, email@example.com
Here at Energy Efficient West Virginia, we started the
year strong with two campaigns for Integrated Resource Planning and
Energy Efficiency Resource Standards. For too long, the WV Public
Service Commission has ignored sensible and nationally used tools to
evaluate electricity production and sales including energy efficiency
and demand response part of their energy plan. We provided the
legislature with information that Integrated Resource Planning not only
works, but it is used in some form by 34 other states. Half the states
in the country have an energy efficiency resource standard and most are
meeting their targets. Energy efficiency is proven over and over again
all over the U.S. as the least cost, and least risk resource available.
You can find tons of resources on our website at
www.eewv.org. We constantly post facts
on our Facebook
page and @EEWV on Twitter. The cheapest power plant is the one that
doesn’t have to be built at all. Though legislation designed to enable
the PSC to use a wider range of planning and analysis tools was rejected
by the House, we continue the fight for energy efficiency in WV.
Right now Mon Power and Potomac Edison are planning to purchase an 80%
share of the Harrison power plant from a subsidiary of their parent
company. Essentially, FirstEnergy is selling a power plant to
FirstEnergy, doubling the book value of the power plant through some
pretty creative accounting to a whopping $1.2 billion and charging their
customer base in West Virginia for it.
The real reasons behind this are that FirstEnergy's profits have fallen
in part due to reduced profits in the competitive electricity market. If
the Harrison plant can be sold into WV's regulated electricity system,
the plant will be protected from competing with regional market forces
and its operating costs plus profit will be paid for – by West Virginia
ratepayers (6% increase on their bills) – locking us in for life.
Mon Power did not seriously evaluate many possible alternatives to this
coal plant; instead, they conveniently presented a self-serving analysis
that justified their decision to purchase this plant to bail out their
parent company. We believe this is a terrible “deal” and we need Citizen
Action members to help us say “No."
The Harrison Power Plant Station sale is a boondoggle
and should be stopped.
Please sign our petition.
For more information,
download our factsheet on-line here.
Visit our website www.eewv.org and
sign up for our newsletters
Like us on Facebook
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Short on Efforts to Strengthen Drilling Regulations
A number of bills were introduced this legislative
session to address shortcomings in the Horizontal Well Control Act
passed by lawmakers in December 2011 (including more than 20 bills
sponsored by Delegate Mike Manypenny (D-Taylor) and various
co-sponsors). Bills were also introduced to increase opportunities to
rejoin split estates by giving surface owners a chance to own the
minerals under their land if those minerals are sold for unpaid taxes,
and to require the Department of Environmental Protection to issue a
procedural rule to allow surface owners a right to a hearing and appeal
of a decision of the Department's decision to issue a permit for well
work on the surface owner’s land. The latter was in response to the
W.Va. Supreme Court opinion in Martin v. Hamblet, which encouraged the
Legislature to re-examine these procedures. However, none of these bills
were taken up by the committees to which they were assigned. The good
news is the industry's scaled back and repackaged version of forced
pooling known as "lease integration" also met its demise.
By Julie Archer,
The one drilling related bill that made its way through the process, was
a bill containing the DEP's rule implementing the Act. Despite the
weakness of the Horizontal Well Act itself, the rule contains a number
of good provisions that we would like to see take affect. Unfortunately,
the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining (EIM) Committee adopted an
amendment that weakens the provisions of the rule that require
disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The amendment
was adopted due to pressure from Halliburton.
This amendment allows operators and their service providers to keep not
only the concentrations of additives secret, but also the identity of
specific chemicals in those additives. It also required health care
providers to sign confidentiality agreements and provide a written
statement of need in order to obtain information about the identity or
concentration of a chemical designated as a confidential trade secret.
House Judiciary Committee members made the amendment less onerous for
health care providers, by eliminating the requirement that they must
sign confidentiality agreements and replacing it with a provisions that
says the driller/operator “may provide notice” to doctors that
disclosing information designated a confidential trade secret to others
for any purpose other than diagnosis or treatment of a patient may
subject them to legal action by the driller or its contractors. The
amendment to the amendment was offered by Delegates Barbara Fleischauer
(D-Monongalia) and Woody Ireland (R-Ritchie).
Another successful change offered by Fleischauer and Ireland requires
that the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for chemicals that will be
used at the well site be included in the well site safety plan, and that
operator provide a copy of the plan to the surface owners and owners of
water wells or developed springs within 1,500 feet of a proposed gas
However, as we recently learned from our friends at the Natural
Resources Defense Council, the problem with relying on MSDS sheets in an
emergency is that many MSDS list information as proprietary or
incomplete. In fact, a study by the Endocrine Disruption Exchange of
MSDSs used in an oil and gas context found that 43% of the MSDSs they
analyzed reported less than 1% of the total composition of the product.
Only 14% of the MSDSs provided information on the complete contents.
This is why we need comprehensive chemical disclosure laws.
Regrettably, a proposal by Delegates Fleischauer, Manypenny and Stephen
Skinner (D-Jefferson) to strike the Halliburton amendment altogether was
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Tax Day, Who Pays?
by Gary Zuckett,
April 15th is a day feared by many as the last day to file Federal and
State income taxes. Here at Citizen Action, we leveraged this unusual
attention on our tax system to make two statements promoting a better
and fairer tax system.
Monday morning at the state capitol, WV Center on Budget & Policy,
Communications Workers of America and WV-CAG held a
conference to call for an end to tax loopholes and off-shore
shelters that allow multi-national corporations and millionaires to hid
profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
We released a report called “Picking
Up the Tab” that reveals the cost to the average WV tax payer of
these “offshore tax dodgers” – an extra $620 in state taxes to cover
lost revenue. Small business pays an average of $2300! See report at:
Brenda Wilson, Norm Steenstra and Robin Wilson
demonstrate for Global Action on Military Spending.
Later that day we partnered with WV Patriots for Peace to highlight the
Bloated Pentagon Budget by handing out
at the downtown Post Office from 5-6PM as everyone was dropping off
their tax returns. We distributed nearly 400 of them asking folks to
call Sen. Manchin to cut Pentagon spending that is now set to consume
57% of our nation’s discretionary budget in 2013! If you haven’t called
Sen. Manchin on this it’s not too late to dial in the toll-free number –
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WEST VIRGINIA CITIZEN
ACTION GROUP'S ANNUAL SPRING EXTRAVAGANZA, SAVE THE DATE!!!
Friday, May 17, 2013
Charleston Woman’s Club
5:30 pm to 9:00pm
Join our progressive community in celebrating 39 years
Citizen Action in West Virginia
& in honoring the lifelong accomplishments of our awardees!
Dinner, Drinks, Live Music, Dancing, Silent Auction and more!
Tickets ~ $35/person (students $10)
For tickets & more info, call 304-346-5891
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mon-Preston Labor Council Hosts a Special Meeting
on “Right to Work”
Monday, April 22nd, 2013 at 5:30pm
at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Hall,
100 Richard Street, Morgantown, WV 26505.
The WVU Institute of Labor Studies & Research will
present an informative and timely message concerning so-called "Right to
Work" and how it negatively impacts YOUR Union. Also, Chad Rink and Jeff
Cech or the Iron Workers will be joining us to discuss the potential to
begin a chapter/campaign for "Jobs with Justice" in Morgantown.Pizza and
beverages will be served.
For more information please contact Diane Parker at email@example.com
Seneca 2 Forum and West
Virginia State University Cultural Activities Host Forum U.S. Human
Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery (From 5 Star Hotels to the Super Bowl)
April 24th, 7:00 pm
WVSU Davis Fine Arts Bldg. Auditorium
Anne Victory, HM, currently serves as Education
Coordinator for the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking in
Cleveland/Akron, Ohio area. The Collaborative Initiative to end Human
Trafficking is a group of concerned persons and organizations in
northern Ohio whose mission is to educate and advocate for the
prevention and abolition of human trafficking, while connecting services
on behalf of trafficked persons. For more information visit:
AFL-CIO Remembers fallen workers at 25th annual
observance of Workers Memorial Day
Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 2:00PM
Willow Island Memorial, West Virginia
This is a day set aside nationwide by unions to remember
workers who have suffered and died because of workplace hazards. The
observance will memorialize twenty two workers who died as a result of a
workplace accident in West Virginia during 2012. The AFL-CIO hopes the
event will help focus greater attention on workplace conditions and
further efforts to enact safety and health legislation. For more
information please contact Sherry Breeden at
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Marcellus Shale/Earth Day Events
Sunday, April 21, 2013 ~ 2-5PM at the Warwood
Garden Park in Wheeling, WV Informational gathering and protest
regarding the proposed Green Hunter Water facility, which would treat
and recycle waste water generated by Marcellus Shale development. The
plan will be located just 1.2 miles upstream from Wheeling's water
Sunday’s event will feature music, speakers, information tables,
activities for children and more. For more information contact Patricia
Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, April 22, 2013 ~ 6PM at the Union Rescue Squad Building
on Pump Street in Union, WV
Celebrate Monroe County's Clean Water on Earth Day with
SavetheWaterTable.org. Speakers will include WV Host Farms Program
(www.wvhostfarms.org) Administrator Diane Pitcock, who will present a
program on Marcellus shale drilling and some of its lesser-publicized
affects on West Virginia landowners. Question and answer period to
follow. A free ham, bean and cornbread dinner will be served beginning
at 6PM. Speakers will begin at 7PM. The Rescue Squad Building is one
block behind the Court House.
Saturday, April 27, 2013 ~ The 5th Annual Panhandle Earth Day
Celebration at Morgan's Grove Park, Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Music, Art, Crafts, Food, Kid's Activities, Demonstrations,
Environmental & Conservation groups, Activists, Vendors, a Farmers
Market and more!
This is a family friendly, community-oriented event, held rain or shine.
Feel free to bring a picnic lunch, lawn chairs, blankets and comforts
for an afternoon in the park. Please leave your dogs at home.
This year’s music will include: The Boatmen - The Woodshedders - Billy
Thompson Band - Moogatu - Handsome Sonic Bongo Band - LowBrau
Highballers - Acoustic Blues Revue - Flowers & Birds - Roots Coalition -
Rick Hill - Captain Obvious and the Moot Points - and more!
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