Hump Week – Halfway Over, Session Speeding Up

Last week we hit day 30 of the 60 calendar day session. Committees are meeting earlier and lasting longer, and floor sessions are going on for hours as the work of the 2020 legislative session barrels toward several deadlines this month. There are now 1,340 bills introduced in the House, and 740 in the Senate. Crossover Day, when these bills must move out of their house of origin or die, is a little over two weeks away – February 26th. The 11th is the last day to introduce bills in the House, and the 17th is the deadline for the Senate.

 

Insulin Bill heads to House Floor

After a marathon Judiciary Committee session on Friday, the bill to lower co-pays on insulin to $25/month (HB 4543) is moving to the floor for a passage vote. This bill has bipartisan support and has now made it out of three committee assignments. Contact your Delegate(s) with this easy action form and tell them to vote for lower costs for this life-saving medicine.

 

Other Health Bills Need Help

Both bills expanding Medicaid coverage for adult dental care and postpartum moms are stuck in their original committees. SB 648 (dental) is finally on the agenda in Senate Health; HB 4416 (moms) is in House Finance. Call and/or email both committees’ Chairmen and your local reps in support of these bills to help them along.

 

Fixing Medical Cannabis & Ending Prohibition

A valiant attempt to “recall” the bill to fix the broken WV Medical Cannabis Act from committee failed this week on a 50-50 vote. This extraordinary move was made necessary when it became apparent that the chair of the committee was not going to even put it on their agenda to be considered. Delegate Mike Caputo gave an impassioned speech worth watching, calling out obstructionists to let suffering patients get this essential medicine. This is one of the many efforts to both move on medical and end prohibition of the plant. These bipartisan bills are being stymied by Republican leadership. Another good reason to help get out the vote this year!

 

PPAs On and Off Again

SB 611, which would authorize Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) was briefly listed on the Senate Economic Development Committee’s agenda this week; then, abruptly it was taken off before the committee met. Ask your Senators to get chairman Swope to run this bill allowing third party installations of solar on homes, churches, and schools without expensive down payments or long-term debt. Even our WV Secretary of Commerce testified recently at the legislature that the lack of access to renewable energy was a barrier to bringing more companies (and jobs) to WV!

 

(Anti) Anti-Protest Hearing on HB 4615

Only three out of nearly thirty individuals who showed up at the public hearing on HB 4615, AKA the Anti-Protest bill, testified in favor of this ALEC cookie-cutter bill that seeks to squash public dissent. Two of those were paid lobbyists for the WV Chamber of Commerce and the WV Oil & Gas Association. Citizen’s opposing the bill came from as far away as the Eastern Panhandle, where the Rockwool fight has energized whole communities to oppose the polluting industrial facility. I attended, too, to represent WV Citizen Action and our members and supporters; read my remarks here. WV E-Council did an excellent post on HB 4615; read it and then call your Delegate(s) to oppose. It’s now on the floor and will be up for passage in the House by Thursday. If it passes, the fight goes to the Senate!

 

Intermediate Courts Pass Senate, Again

For the third year, the unnecessary and costly intermediate court bill has passed the Senate. The last two years it has died in the House. Please help make this happen again! Email your legislators and tell them we don’t need more courts.

It’s interesting how conservatives are always for smaller government, unless it’s for a bill (like this one) backed by big business to help them delay civil suits from parties they’ve injured. “Millions of taxpayer dollars will be used every year to fund a new layer of court bureaucracy while the judicial playing field will shift in favor of wealthy corporations who have a much greater ability to absorb the higher costs and attorney fees of a second layer of appeals.” (The State Journal, Feb. 10, 2020)

 

All Green All the Time

Clean drinking water legislation was in the news when we all gathered to support HB 4542 and SB 679 last week at a joint press conference. If you’re not also looped into the Green Update from the WV Environmental Council go to wvecouncil.org and sign-up. Their lobby team is on top of the latest environmental issues at the Capitol. WV Rivers Coalition is another leader on the fight for clean water everywhere. Both are great sources of “green news”. 

 

Your Greens are Needed too

Fighting for all forms of justice at the legislature takes a lot of resources, and your member renewal and tax-deductible donations keep us active in fighting for your rights. Thank you to everyone who has renewed their membership or donated this legislative session!

Donate online with the links above; or, if online commerce is not your thing, a good old check in the mail to 1500 Dixie St, Charleston WV. 25311 still works just as well as ever! 

 

Read more from this week’s Capital Eye update.

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