Capital Eye Vol. 13 No. 6: Whew – 20 days to go!

Whew – 20 Days to Go

March 7th is the last day of the 2020 regular session. We are ⅔ through the 60-day process…but the most intense is yet to come. The House stopped introducing bills last Tuesday, the last day to introduce in the Senate is today, February 17th. With over 1,500 bills in the House and nearly 900 introduced in the Senate so far, there is still a lot of damage that can be done; however, some good bills will also make it through the gauntlet. 

Health Bills Advance

Medicaid Adult Dental, SB 648, passed out of the Senate Health Committee Thursday and is now in Senate Finance. With an average 6-1 federal match the state money invested in proper dental care is estimated to actually save the state through elimination of emergency room visits and severe heart complications due to untreated oral health. Contact members of the Senate Finance and ask them to vote yes on better dental health.

Insulin Bill Up for House Passage

The bill to make insulin affordable has finally been reported to the House floor and will hopefully pass well before the crossover deadline on the 26th. Be sure to let your Delegate(s) know you support making this life-saving medicine more affordable by limiting co-pays to $25/month.

Medical Cannabis Fix Introduced in Senate

SB 752 – another bill to fix the extremely flawed medical cannabis law, sponsored by two doctors Takubo (R) and Stollings (D) – is in Senate Judiciary. It allows flower and leaf to be used as medicine (removing their prohibition), and allows either patient or caregiver to grow up to 12 plants. The bill also attempts to remove some of the more onerous provisions of the current medical cannabis statute. Calls to Judiciary Chair Charles Trump would help get it on their agenda, and messages to committee members are also needed. Kentucky’s legislature will be voting this week on their own version of medical cannabis. Hope they get it right the first time…

Intermediate Court Bill Sent to House

HB 275 passed the Senate last week and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. It died in the House last year, and we’ll need your help to kill it off again this time. The U.S. and WV Chambers of Commerce are pushing this expensive and unnecessary middle layer of courts for WV to slow down pesky consumer and liability suits against their Big Business members. Taxpayers would be on the hook for $7 million/year in upfront costs plus 2x that in state agency legal and staff costs. We need more blacktop on our roads, not more black robes in our courts.

Punitive Protest Bill Sent to Senate

HB 4615, making “conspiracy” to trespass on so-called “critical infrastructure” a new crime along with other repressive fines, felonies, and imprisonment for those who are called by conscience or desperation to civil disobedience, passed out of the House 60-35. The bill is now in Senate Judiciary, so calls to members opposing this are needed. ACLU-WV has good talking points to use. 

Solar Jobs Bill Passes Senate

Near the start of the session, Delegate Evan Hansen, an environmental scientist, negotiated a compromise with the Republican leadership and joined with them to sponsor a compromise to his solar MOJO act. The compromise bill will allow the state’s electric utilities to build up to 400 MW of solar arrays on former coal mines or Brownfields sites—40 times more solar than is currently installed in West Virginia! Sponsors of the House bill include the Speaker, the Chair of the Energy Committee, the Minority Leader, and others of both parties. On Friday, the Senate version of this solar jobs bill unanimously passed! Several coal county Senators made statements in support citing a need to expand our energy portfolio to draw in out-of-state businesses that demand renewable energy sources. It now moves to the House for final passage. (Note – the environmental community is divided over support for this compromise bill – the devil is in the details; we’ll have to wait and see if the utilities really take this opportunity and run with it.) 


Time Running Out for PPA’s

SB 611 is still languishing in the Senate Economic Development Committee with a Chair who refuses to put it on their calendar. This solar jobs bill allowing Power Purchase Agreements has to move out of committee by this coming Sunday or it’s dead. Contacts to Chairman Swope are still needed! Here is a letter to the editor I just got into the Charleston Gazette-Mail on this.

Senator Manchin Wants to Hear from You 

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is holding two town halls this week in Charleston and Huntington. For those who can attend here is the info on the Charleston event: 

What:     Public Town Hall 

When:    February 21, 2020, 10:00 am – 11:30 am 

Where:   University of Charleston, Erma Byrd Gallery, Charleston, West Virginia

Why:      To discuss the FY 2021 budget, broadband access, college affordability, and other issues facing our state and nation.

If you need any further information please call my Charleston office at 304-342-5855 or email me at common_sense@manchin.senate.gov.   

We Want to Hear from You Also!

Of course, we always welcome communications from our members and supporters. Your support is what keeps the lights on at WV Citizen Action. If you haven’t already, please take a minute to let us know what your priorities are, and while you’re at it renew or become a supporting member. Letters and checks can be sent to 1500 Dixie St, Charleston WV 25311. Thank you in advance for your support!

 

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