OVEC Action Alert

March Madness Has a Whole New Meaning, Eh?

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Action Alert
Supporting Organized Voices and
Empowered Communities Since 1987
Mar 19, 2020 View / Comment Online

Quick Action Alert Summary
If you haven’t time to read all this below, here’s the bullet point version:

  • We love you, be safe. We are figuring out what to do, too. Let’s try to practice self-care and society-care.
  • Keep taking action if you can.
  • Tell the Governor to veto HB 4615, the anti-protest bill. Submit a comment to the governor here, or call him at 304-558-2000. Tell him HB 4615 is un-American and unconstitutional and you want him to veto the bill. 
  • Mail in your request for an absentee ballot for the May 12 Primary to your County Clerk. Note that you are requesting to vote from home due to the medical reason of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Take the 2020 Census online at my2020census.gov or mail in the form your household should be getting in the mail by Friday. Protect the health of Census workers. Federal funds to states and Congressional representation depend on the count.

In my years of writing and sending out OVEC action alerts to our members and supporters, I’ve kept in mind that we should have good reason to send our notes into your inbox. That’s been normal procedure.

We’ve good reason to send out the action items here, but I have been stymied in getting this alert written and sent, perhaps because things are not normal at all. Also, because I’m uncertain I can find the right words to convey OVEC’s sincere sentiments.

It hardly seems adequate to say we hope you and your loved ones are well and that you are taking steps to protect yourself and your community. (We’ve been compiling and updating some of those steps here.) We hope you are finding meaningful ways to connect with and check-in with one another in these times of physical distancing. (This is what allies in the Northeast have labeled what others are calling “social” distancing. We will join in the attempt to spread the use of this term; while we need to be physically distanced right now, we need to build more social connection!)

OVEC staff are extremely fortunate to be able to work mostly from home right now; we’ve worked remotely often, so that’s an easy lift for us. We just had our monthly face-to-face meeting—virtually. We are figuring out how to best stay in touch with you and the communities we work in now. (For more on that, see Upcoming Events, below.)

The harder thing is that we miss seeing you! One-on-one and community meetings and events are all postponed for now, including our 2020 Treehuggers’ Ball. 

red pandaSpeaking of Treehuggers, hugging trees is definitely still safe, encouraged even: As COVID-19 upends life across the country, the natural world offers lessons in remaining resilient and emerging stronger.

As we struggle with worry about those dear to us becoming sick, the state of our government, and the plight of millions of Americans as businesses shut down, we need to do all we can to keep our spirits up, and to remember that right now is the perfect time to demand—to create—the changes we want in our society.

The Appalachian spring can provide much solace. Take that walk in the woods, or in a (uncrowded!) park. Have a friend on the phone while you both walk, and enjoy the sights and sounds together, over a video call. Listen for those peepers. Watch the wildflower show. Smell the spring rain, and gaze at the Milky Way.   

And continue looking out for community, continue to take action…

 – Vivian

Ask the Governor to Veto HB 4615, the Anti-Protest Bill
Protest was a foundational tenant for American democracy, and since our founding days, protest has been essential in raising awareness about injustices to bring about social reforms. Almost every day in America people come together peacefully to demonstrate and raise their voices about clean air and water, local land use, and other issues they believe in because peaceful protest works. Without the right to speak up, we wouldn’t have equal(ish) rights for women and people of color, fair wages and working hours, or clean air and water.

That right is threatened because of House Bill 4615, the “critical infrastructure protection” bill, which is really an anti-protest bill, intended to intimidate and silence environmentalists. It hands industry even more power, and further criminalizes actions that are already illegal. This bill seeks to further marginalize and criminalize those who dare to try to right wrongs. 

HB 4615 passed on the final night of the West Virginia Legislative Session.

We need you to ask Governor Justice to veto the bill. Submit a comment to the governor here, or call him at 304-558-2000 or toll free at 888-438-2731. Tell him HB 4615 is un-American and unconstitutional and you want him to veto the bill. 

Voting in the Time of Coronavirus: Request Your Absentee Ballot Now
May 12 June 9 is West Virginia’s Primary. We vote for who we hope to see as candidates on the ballot in November for President of the United States, the U.S. Senate and House, Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, and Commissioner of Agriculture, as well as State Senate and House of Delegates.

May 12 June 9 is also our Supreme Court of Appeals election when we choose three (out of five total) Supreme Court Justices who will preside over the Court for the years. We do not vote on this matter again in the General election


Needless to say, this Primary Election is very important.

But here we are in the midst of a public health emergency that may mean people don’t want to go the polls and poll workers’ health is at risk. 

In order to ensure people can exercise their precious right to vote, Secretary of State Mac Warner announced yesterday that he is using his emergency rule-making authority to expand access to absentee voting under the “medical emergency” eligibility provision of state law. Warner said people will be able to use the coronavirus as a medical reason to vote from home.

Voters may request absentee ballots under this provision now, and county clerks will start sending ballots to voters next week. You can download a pdf of the request form here. Print it, fill it out, and then mail it in to your County Clerk.

Your request for an absentee ballot needs to be in to the office of your County Clerk by early in May. Why wait? Get your request in now.

Upcoming Events
At the moment: most March and April events are either cancelled or postponed. We are OVEC Event Calendarworking out ways to come together as a community while, for now, maintaining that physical distance. 

With that in mind, please make certain we are able to connect with you by phone, text, snail-mail, video-conferencing, and by more targeted regional action alerts. We hope you will take a moment to fill in your contact information here.  (Note that we do not share your information with any third parties!)

One thing is still on…

April 1: National Census Day
It is so important that everyone living in the United States be counted in the 2020 Census. Federal funds for all kinds of services (such as Medicare and Medicaid) and infrastructure (highways, etc.) come into our communities based on our Census count. The Census numbers for each state also determine our share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes for the next decade.

To protect the health of Census workers, all U.S. households can respond to the census on their own either online at my2020census.gov, over the phone or by paper, Official letters with instructions on how to participate in the national head count are expected to arrive at most homes by this Friday, March 20.

If you are not a citizen, or otherwise worried that you risk something by taking part in the Census—don’t worry! Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics—they cannot be used against you in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential. There are no exceptions.

So please, be counted! 

And let’s count on one another to help each other navigate these coming months.

See you in cyberspace.



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