Going into the 2015 WV Legislature for the first time as a lobbyist, I really didn’t know what to expect, at all. I knew and had heard a number of times that it was going to be a tough session, due to the political shakeup. On the fourth week of my employment with OVEC, was my first experience. Our very first meeting was with Larry Malone, Governor Tomblin’s Director of Policy and former Executive Director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association. I was joined by members of the Sierra Club, Energy Efficient WV, and WV Environmental Council, all of which I had minimal contact with prior to this meeting. The four of us assigned our roles and I was to explain why energy efficiency is important to our constituents and our economy. I was nervous and excited, well more nervous than excited. I have to talk to an oil and gas guy about energy efficiency?
All in all the meeting went well with discussions on the LEEP Bill (http://www.eewv.org/leep), Integrated Resource Planning (http://www.eewv.org/current-campaigns/least-cost-planning) vs. Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (http://www.eewv.org/current-campaigns/energy-efficiency-resource-standard), and the EPA Clean Power Plan.
The 60 days that followed were in a whirlwind of calls, meetings, cancellations, memos, fact sheets, finance hearings, committee meetings (sometimes that ran until midnight), petitions, allied lobbyist gatherings, lawmaker stalking (just kidding, but it felt like it sometimes), notes, amendments, public speaking, bill tracking, and the occasional lunch in the capitol cafeteria with special folks you become close to very quickly and of whom you can expel your frustrations with.
Our LEEP Bill was introduced with bi-partisan sponsorship and was well received, but fell into the “not right now” pile. As allied lobbyists, we fought the Category “A” Bill, the Tank Bill, the REPS repeal to save Net Metering, PSC (Water and Sewer) Deregulation, Campaign Contribution Caps, PAC Contribution Disclosure, Horizontal Well Drilling, and State Plan for the Clean Air Act… whew!
The truth is I loved it. Chaos mixed with strategies that change at a moments notice. High speed chases to get to the Senator you need to speak with before he enters his next committee meeting. The adrenalin of speaking to those you need to persuade, in front of your peers. The inherent comradery of sharing ups and downs as each of us trudge through the marble halls, hoping for miracles. I feel as if I learned a lifetime of lessons and truly look forward to putting my new skills to work in 2016, election year. Do you plan to vote 2016? Please do – your vote counts!
OVEC Project Coordinator