Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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August 2009

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor

Chief FOCer Gov. Joe Manchin makes it clear where his heart is at a recent coal conference.

by Carol Warren

West Virginia legislative sessions are always strange, but WV Citizens for Clean Elections of which OVEC is a lead partner had quite the roller coaster ride this year! Our bill for public financing for the Legislature was introduced in both Chambers (H2764 and S241).

Our previous sponsors stayed with us, and Del. Dan Poling (D- Wood) was given the one open sponsorship slot, because he has been an enthusiastic supporter. We concentrated on working the bill in the House, where we felt the committees were friendlier.

Judiciary Chair Carrie Webster (D-Kanawha) put the bill into Subcommittee A, dealing with a number of other election issues, such as vote-by-mail pilot project for municipalities, lengthening the period for voter registration, designating additional polling places in counties, and others.

Oddly, some other legislation was assigned to the committee that was quite time-consuming, including the ever-controversial bottle bill. A bill for public financing for the Supreme Court was also included (more on that below).

The Subcommittee chair, Del. Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), told us fairly early that she thought there was more energy around the Supreme Court bill because of all the negative publicity West Virginia has received over our Supreme Court elections. We kept working the legislative bill, however, until it became clear the subcommittee would indeed not take it up.

The action on the bill for Supreme Court elections began in the Senate, with Judiciary Chair Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall), also our lead sponsor for many years on the legislative bill. He introduced S311, a pilot project for public financing for Supreme Court justices in 2012.

Julie Archer of WV Citizen Action devoted considerable time to working with Senator Kesslers staff attorney assigned to the bill, including arranging a call for Senator Kesslers and Delegate Websters legal staffs with Angela Miggaly at the Brennan Center, which specializes in election reform issues.

All this took several weeks, and the bill in its more-or-less final form emerged just in time to be brought up in Senator Kesslers Judiciary Committee as its first reference.

Because of the unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright, there will be a special election in 2010 to fill his term. Senator Evan Jenkins (D-Cabell) amended the bill to begin the pilot project with that election, instead of in 2012. An amendment to make the elections non-partisan failed. The bills passage from Judiciary put us in the position of having to convince Senator Walt Helmick (D-Pocahontas), the Finance Chair and our nemesis on the legislative bill, to take the judicial bill up immediately, because there were only a few days remaining for bills to move from their chamber of origin.

On Tuesday March 31, we were elated to find S311 on the Finance Committee agenda!

Julie and I had done our work with the Finance Committee and entered the committee room feeling relatively confident.

The meeting was already well underway when Delegate Tim Manchin came into the room, approached us and whispered, "Its dead," and walked back out.

We scrambled out after him, and he informed us that Governor Joe Manchin had told Sen. Helmick to pull the bill. The governor is evidently appointing his own commission to deal with judicial elections and did not want any legislation passed that would "interfere" with that

commissions work. A number of our allies were quite angry, among them Senator Kessler, who was apparently not consulted although he was the bills lead sponsor. Even some senators who were not necessarily strong supporters of the legislation approached us to say they were sorry about what happened. People are still asking me, "How does the governor have the authority to do that?"

To that I have to say, "I dont know."


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