Yes, we’re almost halfway through the 2022 session, but the frantic half is coming up. Next Tuesday (February 15th) is the last day to introduce bills in the House, thankfully. They already have 1,181 bills on their plate and they’ll be in a rush this week to get their stragglers in. The Senate has until February 21st to pack their list which now totals 580.
Keep sending notes and making phone calls to your lawmakers on the issues you care about. Unless they hear from you, all the guidance they get is from their ‘paid friends’ the lobbyists who promote the agenda’s and interests of their employers!
Also, please keep your new membership renewals and donations coming in. Many thanks to all of you that have already done so! Your ‘green’ helps us keep WV green!
DEP takeover of WV Solid Waste Board?
Companion bills dropped last week in both houses (SB 554 & HB 4505) to eliminate the WV Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB). This proposal from the governor would shut down the Board and turn all its functions over to the WV Department of Environmental Protection. What could go wrong? Apparently DEP is challenged with running its REAP program, let alone taking on all the solid waste issues for the whole state. Quoting a 2020 legislative performance review: “Eliminating Illegal Dumps Has Become Costlier Under DEP Purchasing Procedures, the DEP Often Cleans Areas That Have Been Re-Trashed Multiple Times, and High Administrative Costs and Questionable Expenditures Are Diverting Funds From Intended Purposes.” This is not to say the SWMB is doing a stellar job either. WV is dead last in the nation in the amount of non-cardboard recycling at a miserable 2%. However, the DEP is already extremely underfunded and dumping our solid waste resources into it, I fear, would merely have that funding sucked up into their hungry bureaucracy and lost. Contact your lawmakers and tell them to oppose these bills if they start to move.
Tanks, but No Tanks
We assume most of you also receive the weekly updates from our allies at the WV Environmental Council and WV Rivers Coalition. If not, you’re missing important updates on a lot of environmental issues that they lead on. One recurring nightmare is nicknamed the ‘Tank Bill’. Every session the oil & gas industry tries to exempt more and more above ground storage tanks from the regulations enacted to protect public drinking water intakes after the 2014 chemical leak that contaminated water supply for nearly a third of the state. They’re at it again this year so take this easy action from WV Rivers!
Blame the Unemployed
Our friends at WV Center for Budget & Policy are sounding the alarm on SB 2 & SB 3 which again, ‘blame the victims’ by cutting in half the number of weeks workers can draw unemployment and quadrupling the number of job applications needed to keep receiving these insurance payments. Why? To get those lazy workers back to work? To lower employers unemployment costs? The governor already did that by dumping millions of federal COVID relief dollars into the state’s unemployment fund. Unemployment is at record lows in WV but lots of jobs are going unfilled because so many have given up, dropped out of the workforce and aren’t even counted in the unemployment numbers. We should be addressing barriers to employment not punishing those looking for work. This is just mean and spiteful, however but both bills will be on passage stage in the Senate Tuesday so contact your Senators for a no vote! Passage there means this fight will move over to the House. Stay tuned.
Build Back Somehow – Invest in WV Statewide Action Saturday!
Build Back Better is dead, says Sen Joe Manchin and he should know since he helped kill it! However, we’re not giving up on getting him and the rest of the Senate to pass some of the best parts of it like addressing the climate crisis, lowering Rx costs and providing support for children and families. That is why we’re working with allies and the WV New Jobs Coalition to gather volunteers to knock on doors this Saturday and drop off fliers asking our neighbors to send Manchin a message to ‘Invest in WV’. Click this link for more info and to sign up to spread the word!