Haste Makes Waste – Week Two @ Legislature
Phil Kabler’s February 13th column outlines several quirks of this bizarre legislative session. One of the more concerning ones is the sheer number of ‘single shot’ bills, assigned to only one committee. This makes for hasty legislation that often has to be fixed on the other side or in subsequent years. Even bills that go through two committees can be altered on amendment stage when taken up on the floor by the whole body.
Dems: Turn on Candid Cameras
The House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to the Republican leadership last week requesting that the video cameras be turned on for committee meetings where available and to archive floor session videos so working folks can view them later. What is House leadership trying to hide? The Senate already does this. With COVID restricting public access to the Capitol building, this letter should not even be necessary!
Hope this one Doesn’t Pass!
A good example is the bill to create vouchers to give parents public education dollars for home and private schooling (HB 2013), titled the Hope Scholarship Program. After two floor amendments broadly expanded the reach (and cost) of this bad idea, it was passed and sent to the Senate. Realizing the potential damage to our public schools budget this presented, the House then pulled a rarely used parliamentary move. It ‘recalled’ the bill from the Senate and sent it back to the Finance Committee to ‘further deliberate’ on it.
Please contact members of House Finance and your own House members to let them know that you do not support diverting public money to private schools – our schools should be fully funded! You can use this handy link from the WV Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP):
Tax Shift Coming?
As of this writing, we’re still waiting for the introduction of the governor’s grand plan to ‘phase out’ the state income tax so that (according to him and Senate leadership) “tens of thousands of new residents will flock to WV”. Others, not looking through such rose-colored glasses, predict a repeat of the failed and catastrophic ‘Kansas Experiment’, a textbook example of how to put your state into a budget hole so deep it takes a decade to dig out of. This was the topic of WVBP’s annual Budget Breakfast. We highly recommend taking time to watch part or all of the video. Then take a minute to contact your Delegates and Senators to just vote NO on this shell game shifting taxes from wealthier folks to middle and low income taxpayers.
Tanks, but No Tanks!
It’s baaaack! Like a zombie emerging from the pits of Freedom Industries, this year’s version of the bill (HB 2598) to roll-back inspections of storage tanks was introduced in the House last Thursday. It would exempt certain oil and gas tanks closest to our public drinking water intakes from the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, which requires regular inspections and crisis response plans. This bad idea got only one hasty committee reference and could be taken up as early as Tuesday, February 23rd! A public hearing has already been requested by several groups, but as mentioned last week, new rules make public hearings optional. Write your Delegates now using the WV Rivers Coalition link or better yet give them a call.
Buyer Beware of SB 5
Our allies at the West Virginia Association for Justice (WVAJ) are urging the rejection of SB 5 and we concur! This bill would strike critical provisions of the WV Consumer Credit and Protection Act, leaving state consumers and small businesses powerless when they are harmed by bad loans, scams, price gouging, bad products and other abuses. “Our consumer rights are under attack. If SB 5 passes, West Virginians will have no protection from predatory lenders, dishonest sellers, fraudulent schemes, illegal changes, abusive debt collection practices and more. Consumers and small business owners will have their rights taken away and be powerless against fraud, abuse and harassment,” said Kristina Whiteaker, of the WVAJ.
Contact your Legislators and tell them to reject SB 5 and to Protect consumer protections!
US Senators – Go Big or Go Home on Covid Relief
Both Senator Manchin and Capito need to hear from YOU to tell them to move the next critical COVID Relief package forward. The message, to quote our governor, “Go BIG or go home!” i.e. make it big and bold as the country and WV needs the relief and support. Take Action HERE: https://p2a.co/d4rK9I4.
Tip of the Iceberg
This session is on steroids and we’ve never seen the kind of deliberate rigging of the rules and normal procedures to advance cookie-cutter legislation from the national radical conservative agenda. Our intention is to keep you informed on what’s moving fast and needs attention so we’ll also be putting out mid-week lists of bills on which to take action.
However, we can only cover the tip of the Iceberg – there is so much more to follow and take action upon. If you’re not already, we’d recommend you get hooked up with our allies whose individual expertise is critical on their specialties: WV Center on Tax & Budget; WV Environmental Council; West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and WV Rivers Coalition are several of the many allies we count on to dig deep into policies that affect our economy, health and environment.
Meanwhile, Thanks for Your Green Energy!
We would be remiss without thanking all our members and contributors who continue to send online and mail-in donations! We go “full tilt” for the 60-day legislative session, while at the same time working on federal issues in the newly elected administration and Congress. If you haven’t yet become a supporting member of WV Citizen Action, now is the best time to show your support! Thanks again!