The People Win Round 1 in
Coal Truck Weight Battle
by Vivian Stockman
In July, the people of West Virginia emphatically told Gov.
Bob Wise and state legislators: "No! Do not increase the coal truck weight
limit and do enforce the current laws."
Wise called a special summer legislative session in an
attempt to pass his "compromise" bill that would have nearly doubled
the current weight limits for coal trucks. The only compromise in this bill was
between the coal industry and its favorite politicians the industry wanted
even higher weight limits. Wise and House "leaders" thought they could
ignore the peoples will.
How wrong they were.
Former WV Secretary of State Ken Hechler ran television ads
for the "We the People" coalition urging folks to call their
legislators to tell them: No weight increase! OVEC, Coal River Mountain Watch
and WV Citizen Action Group worked hard to get people out to rallies and into
the halls of the Capitol. Delegate Mike Caputo continued his bold leadership on
the issue. People responded in droves.
Wise and House Speaker Bob Kiss and other coal-puppet
legislators were stunned at the dramatic 48-47 House vote that nixed the weight
increase. They had arrogantly thought their fix for their coal industry buddies
would prevail. They pressured legislators to ignore the calls from their
constituents. But many legislators said they hadnt seen the public so united
and so vocal on an issue in a long time. Those legislators decided to heed the
voice of the people, which they likened to a sleeping giant, awakened.
Charleston Gazette editor Dan Radmacher said in a
Sept. 27 column, "When Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, won a floor vote
during the summer special session to amend the bill and strip out the weight
increases, legislative leaders and Wise agreed to a compromise: They compromised
their duty to resolve this issue and adjourned the session as quickly as humanly
The Gazette reported Wise as saying, "Its the
first inning. Its not by any means the entire game." How sad and ugly
that Wise thinks resolving the deadly overweight coal truck issue is a game.