WVEC Legislative Update
March 30, 2001
A Wacky Week on Water Wars
by Nathan Fetty and Donald S. Garvin, Jr.
This week's water battles have been many and varied, with ebbs and flows (and
political arm twisting) at every turn. The House Judiciary Committee passed out
the DEP "compromise" rule rather than industry's Dirty Water Bill.
The message to legislators this week is: The DEP proposal is dangerously
weak. Please don't make it any weaker!! Urge your lawmakers to protect trout
streams. And tell them not to weaken an already weak bill. Tell them to fend off
any industry amendments. See contact info on page 7.
The water rules have been bundled into a much larger bill with a host of
other environmental protection rules. When referring to antideg at this point,
be sure to refer to HB 2663, its new number.
Monday was the last day of antidegradation stakeholder negotiations with
House Judiciary Chairman Jon Amores and Legislative Rulemaking Review Chair
Virginia Mahan. Not surprisingly, industry made no agreements to anything, and
Amores made it clear that the DEP proposal would be the vehicle for moving the
rule in House Judiciary.
The antideg rule sprouted legs pretty quickly, and the Judiciary Committee
took up the bill Tuesday afternoon. It was a five-hour ordeal, with the
committee first adopting and passing the DEP proposal by voice vote, then voting
13-12 to bring the bill back for reconsideration. The committee was trying to
buck the chairman's recommendation on the DEP rule; industry had obviously
worked overtime on a bunch of committee members. After a great deal more
discussion (and subtle arm twisting by leadership in the meantime, including an
appearance by Senate Judiciary Chair Bill Wooton) the committee passed the DEP
proposal again, 16-9. This was a very significant vote, with the committee
bucking intense lobbying by every major industry in the state.
Voting in favor of the DEP rule were Delegates Amores, Manuel, Craig,
Webster, Wills, Hrutkay, Mahan, Randy White, Mike Caputo, Fleischauer, Thompson,
Pethel, Ferrell, Spencer, Joe Smith and Pino.
Industry pulled out all the stops at this point, with many delegates
receiving calls from constituents who had swallowed the Industry bait and were
opposing DEP's bill. The bill came up for first reading in the House on
Thursday, and we were preparing for a floor battle today, when industry
amendments likely would be flying. (Bills must go through three readings on
three separate days, passing on third reading).
But Thursday afternoon, industry quietly slipped into a meeting with Speaker
Bob Kiss, House leadership, governor's staff, and DEP Director Mike Callaghan.
Noticeably absent and uninvited were those of us from the public interest
sector! We learned that industry is especially furious over the inclusion in
DEP's bill of Tier 2.5 protections for "waters of special concern"
like trout streams, but apparently DEP refused to budge on this provision.
At press time, HB 2663 has been removed from the House calendar, meaning it
won't be taken up today. We don't yet know what that means for the bill's
future. Will it die? Will it be amended to appease industry? Will it be left
alone? Can the House leadership pull together enough votes to pass its own bill?
Our message has been and continues to be that HB 2663 is dangerously weak,
and shouldn't be made weaker. Although it recognizes that trout streams need
to be protected and that high quality streams shouldn't be given lower
protections if they're impaired, it has lots of problems, and is far from a bill
that we're happy with. It exempts valley fills, and effectively exempts the
timber and agriculture industries. It also exempts existing polluters from
One interesting development was that labor unions endorsed the DEP proposal
on Thursday, laying to rest the industry lies about how anything other than the
Dirty Water Bill means that jobs are thrown out the window and West Virginia's
borders are closed to economic development.
Industry has a full court press on the House of Delegates, and we need to do
the same. Keep up the calls, faxes and e-mails to your delegates, and even visit
them if you can.
If any of these delegates are yours, please contact them ASAP with the
message that HB2663 is weak and shouldn't be made weaker:
Delegates Beach, Boggs, B. Brown, T. Campbell, Cann, Douglas, Doyle, Flanigan,
Fletcher, Fragale, Hatfield, Hubbard, Kuhn, Leach, Louisos, Marshall, Michael,
Paxton, Mezzatesta, Prunty, Smirl, Staton, Susman, Varner, G. White, Wright.
Thanks to Delegate Virginia Mahan who has been working intensely on the
antidegradation issue. She worked with other House leaders to bring all the
parties to the table on this issue, and facilitated several of these stakeholder
meetings. We appreciate her interest in and work on this important clean water
Also, we are very grateful to attorney Joe Lovett, who was our lead
representative during these negotiations, and continues to offer invaluable
advice. He has been a solid, constant voice for those of us who want West
Virginia's rivers and streams properly protected.
Waste Tire Bounty with Teeth
by Gary Zuckett
Senator Rowe (D-Kanawha) has introduced SB635 that amends the current law
permitting the state highway commissioner to pay a bounty for the drop-off of
The new language mandates the establishment of a waste tire bounty program to
"encourage the special cleanup from time to time of abandoned waste tires
and improve the natural beauty and safety of the state." In other words, it
would allow for targeting areas for cleanup and developing a process to collect
waste tires using the $1 bounty as an incentive. Funding of the bounty would be
from the $2 disposal tax already on the books.
The Senate Finance Committee has this one. Call the Chair or any Committee
member and ask them to pass out SB635.
Ballot Access Bill in House
by Gary Zuckett
HB 2928, by Delegates Compton, Hubbard, and Fleischauer, is a win-win
proposal for both third parties and the established major parties.
At present, the only way for emerging parties to acquire ballot status is to
run a candidate for governor and get the required percentage of the vote in the
general election. This effectively places a bulls-eye on the governor's race
that any aspiring third party must shoot for to become established.
HB 2928 would broaden the scope of the law to allow new parties to run a
candidate for any state-wide office and qualify. This is a common practice in
other states and should be the law in West Virginia. Call House Judiciary Chair
Amores (340-3252) and ask him to pass HB 2928.
Election Finance Reform
While the U.S. Congress debates legislation to restrict "soft
money," i.e., funds donated directly to political parties, the WV House of
Delegates is considering legislation to increase allowable contributions.
The Speaker, Majority Leader, and Judiciary Chairman, among others, are sponsors
of HB 3175. Expect this bill to fly regardless of the fact that the majority of
West Virginians (and Americans) feel there is already too much money in
politics. Bill text was not available at this writing but we've heard that it
would double the legal limits on such contributions. It is single referenced to
Economic Development Update
by Julie Archer
The Economic Development Accountability Act, HB 2600, is still frozen in the
Economic Development and Small Business Committee; however, the Senate version
of the bill (SB 572) was introduced this week and is sponsored by Senator Larry
Rowe. It is hoped that the Senate will take swifter action on this desperately
needed legislation than the House, but only time will tell.
Last week the House committee on Economic Development and Small Business did
take action on the Jobs Impact bill and passed it on to the Finance committee
where it has yet to be taken up. With any luck the committee will decide to work
on other legislation and the bill will die quietly.
SB 631 has been introduced to allow for the creation of the "West
Virginia Clean Coal Technology Board." This board is supposed to study,
recommend, promote and implement, through pilot projects, clean coal technology
and alternative uses for coal.
The council is to be made up of six members of the public, three senators,
and three delegates, all appointed by the Senate President and the House
Speaker. Considering the present office holders, we know how progressive this
board will be.
If some provision were made to include environmentalists, coal workers,
owners, and potentially affected citizens on the board, this bill might be
something other than another shameless promotion of the coal industry. Currently
twenty-seven of our thirty-four Senators are listed as sponsors.
More On Coal
by Julie Archer
Two bills dealing with coal mining appear to be on the fast track in the
Senate. Both bills were introduced on Tuesday (the last day to introduce new
bills in the Senate) and came up in the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee on
SB 689, which amends sections of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act that
relate to conducting preblast surveys and blasting requirements for surface
mines, was quickly passed out of the committee and was up for first reading on
the Senate floor today. Nearly all the amendments were requested by DEP after
the Office of Surface Mining mandated the changes. Language which exempted
underground coal mining from the preblast survey requirements has been removed
and additional language was added to make the requirements apply to surface
disturbances at underground mines.
While the bill has its good points, it has some negative aspects as well. One
amendment potentially weakens the required preblast notification to residents.
Another amendment weakens the liability and civil penalties section by exempting
mines that are smaller than 200 acres (or fewer than 300 contiguous acres) from
certain fines and penalties.
SB 603 (and its House companion, HB 3091) provides local economic development
interests with a legitimate means to support more mountaintop removal by
requiring that their recommendations for postmining land use be included in
reclamation plans. Coal companies could be exempted from restoring the land to
its approximate original contour based on these development plans and there is
no guarantee that the "recommended" postmining land-use will occur.
Essentially, companies could spend less money on reclamation by leaving larger
areas for the "recommended" postmine land-use.
The biggest concern with this legislation is that it opens up a major
loophole that could justify not performing contemporaneous reclamation (ongoing
reclamation that occurs during mining). We are working on possible amendments
that would ease some of our concerns.
Sunday Hunting: Fur or Agin
by Norm Steenstra, WV-CAG Executive Director
After more than a decade of trying to legislate Sunday hunting in West
Virginia, the pro-hunting lobby seems on the verge of victory. An issue such as
Sunday hunting is a good one to illustrate the WVEC's role and to examine our
To my knowledge, WVEC has never taken an official position on Sunday hunting.
In past sessions, I've been personally opposed to the concept but never
officially represented that position for any organization.
As a non-hunter, Sunday is the only fall day that I can safely walk in the
woods with pets and loved ones. I learned years ago that posted signs on private
land meant nothing to most game stalkers.
The politics of Sunday hunting are interesting. Our sometimes-allies in
organized labor are for Sunday hunting. Our usual nemesis, the Farm Bureau, is
against it. The NRA loves the idea because, well, you know why.
In the past several years, there's been an internal debate within the WVEC.
Some folks think that the Council should restrict itself to lobbying one or two
issues, such as Dirty Water or timber regulations. Such an approach would sure
make it easier on the lobby team.
The other side of the argument also has some merit. Very often special
interest groups initiate things we just didn't have on our radar screen. Yard
waste, electric deregulation, Dirty Secrets, recycling, Flood Thy Neighbor, Job
Impact Statement, Energy Tax Credits, coal mining regulations, etc., etc. are
all good examples.
Each of these are just as critical to a holistic green approach as Dirty
Water. Couple these with process or legal issues like open meetings, Budget
Digest, election reform, victim's rights, and changes in corporate liability and
it gets even more complicated.
Is our mission to focus on one or two "big" topics or to provide a
broad and united presence before the governor, the legislator and state media?
I digress. What about Sunday hunting? How important an issue is it to us? How
does the WVEC make that determination?
I would find it useful to hear from Update readers and WV-CAG members as to
what posture and how much energy should be given to Sunday hunting. The bill in
its current form is not a blanket legalized Sunday hunting policy. Sunday
hunting can only be permitted on private land where the hunter has written
permission. The bill still protects public land but, to many of us, it may be
the proverbial camel's nose under the tent, creating the opportunity for a
broader Sunday hunting policy in the future.
If you have any comments, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OVEC Action Items
Thanks to an Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) member for this idea:
Go to Governor Wise's "Nominate your special places for our Land
preservation" web page at www.state.wv.us/governor/nom.land.pres.htm and
nominate Blair Mountain, near the town of Blair in Logan County, to be preserved
as a special place. You have a couple of blanks to fill in and you can add
Blair Mountain was the site of the second largest domestic conflict (number
one being the Civil War). Miners and U.S. forces battled here. The site is
important for WV and national history. Mountain removal has about ruined Blair
and more is pending.
In other news, PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND a National Academy of Sciences sludge
impoundment public meeting on April 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Radisson, 1001 3rd
Avenue in downtown Huntington. Hydrogeologist Rick Eades will be there
Litter Bill Update
by Clint Hogbin, EPPEC
Here's the latest!! Governor Wise did in fact veto HB 2222. However, it was a
technical veto (versus a budget veto, philosophical veto, etc.). Which means his
attorneys found a legal flaw in the law that they felt would have possibly
rendered the entire proposed law indefensible in a court of law. The flaw was
not actually with the anti-litter language, it was in a "floor
amendment" relating to the responsibilities of solid waste authorities. HB
2222 was one of the few (2?) pieces of solid waste legislation moving so the
proponents of the amendment tagged their language onto our fast-moving bill.
Anyway, "someone" forgot to amend the title of the bill with the floor
amendment an apparent mistake since the amendment did NOT specifically relate to
So, the Governor's Office vetoed the bill because of the lack of correct
title to the bill.
Now the good news!!! The House and Senate agreed to the changes and each body
voted to pass the bill again. In an effort to meet one of the constitution
deadlines (Friday), all rules for 3 readings were dispensed. So, HB 2222 has
AGAIN passed the legislative action and AGAIN awaits the signature of Governor
Wise. His office has assured me he WILL sign it into law. Fortunately, the
original HB 2222 passed early enough in the process to allow for time to address
Houston- we have a litter bill.
by Kathy Judge, CORL
INTERESTED IN THE FORESTS OF WV? WANT LOGGING REFORM? NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!
Two of the three seats for the citizen members-at-large on the Forest
Management Review Commission are now open. I was told by the Governor's office
that the terms could be as short as two years or as long as six. The FMRC works
on forestry issues and in the past has taken stands on managed timberland (for)
and received briefings on National Forest Issues and the development of the
Strategic Forest Management Plan. The commission is also responsible for an
annual report to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance. The commission
consists of five senators, five delegates, and four representatives of the
forest industry, besides the three citizen members.
Commission meetings are held in conjunction with regular Legislative interim
meetings whenever forestry issues are involved. Send a resume and cover letter
to: Office of the Governor, 1900 Kanawha Blvd.E, Charleston, WV 25305.
ATTENTION: Chip Slaven. Good luck!
WV Timber Reform
by Kathy L. Judge, C.O.R.L. Coordinator
There are now two timber bills, SB658 and SB659, sponsored by Senator John
Mitchell and cosponsors Senators Kessler, Hunter, Rowe and Bowman. Both bills
will go first to the Natural Resources Committee, with Chairman Walt Helmick and
Vice Chairman John Mitchell. Additionally, the other members are as follows:
Leonard Anderson, Edwin J. Bowman, Oshel B. Craigo, Shirley D. Love, Joseph M.
Minard, Robert H. Plymale, Roman W. Prezioso, Mike Ross, Larry L. Rowe, Herb
Snyder, J. Frank Deem and Sarah M. Minear.
SB658 deals with the PERMITTING and BMP'S. SB659 focuses on ENFORCEMENT. It
will take calls from you to make the difference in getting these bills passed.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT! WE NEED YOUR HELP! Call your legislators at
1-877-565-3447 and ask them to support these bills and help clean up LOGGING in
WV. Please tell them "NOW" is the best time for "ACTION" on
this issue! Or, if you could make a personal visit that would be great.
Please e-mail me at email@example.com with the names of who you contacted so
I can track it. Also, please pass the word to your friends and organizational
constituencies. I can also be reached at 545-5078.
Thank you all in advance for your hard work!
The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy website has an invitation from
Governor Bob Wise for nominations for special places in WV that should be
preserved. You can help save your favorite places at www.wvhighlands.org.
Local Raptor Chapter
On Saturday June 9 at Mountain State Outfitters in Kanawha City from 1-3 PM
there will be a fund/awareness raiser for the West Virginia Raptor
Rehabilitation Center (WVRRC) of Morgantown.
The WVRRC is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and
rehabilitating injured birds of prey for release back into the wild, and
providing education and awareness.
The WVRRC was bequested a 300-acre tract of land and envisions fashioning
areas of the property into a nature center, and building a new and modern
facility in which to treat the birds and educate the public. If you would like
more information on the Center or are interested in starting a local chapter for
education, awareness and fundraising support, please contact Kim Pettry at
345-1868 or e-mail to:Kimpettry@hotmail.com.
Governor Wise: firstname.lastname@example.org
(put Senator or Delegate's name in subject line)
or write to:
The Honorable _____________
Member, WV Senate or House of Delegates
Bldg. 1, State Capitol Complex
Charleston, WV 25305
You can fax letters to (304) 347-4819
DEP Director Callaghan: email@example.com
or call 304-759-0570
Call Your Legislators toll-free at: 1-877-565-3447
Call Governor Wise toll-free at: 1-888-438-2731/558-2000 (Charleston)
And you can go on-line to www.legis.state.wv.us
for bill tracking, committee announcements, public hearing announcements,
floor calendars and daily and weekly floor actions.
Send Us Your E-Mail Address!!!
To receive action alerts on the latest issues, e-mail Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to include your name, address, phone.
WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR!
for addresses of all WV newspapers: