WVEC Weekly Round-Up

By Isabel Stellato and Lucia Valentine, WVEC Lobbyists

As the session enters its final week, read on to learn which bills we’re working to defeat, why they’re bad, and how you can help. Lots can happen during these final days, so please keep a lookout for action alerts and other updates!

Sadly, the only bills left are ones we oppose. Here’s what’s still alive:

West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization co-founder and lobbyist Dave McMahon speaks during the public hearing for HB 5018 on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. – Photo by Perry Bennett

HB 5018 – Community Air Monitoring Bill 

As HB 5018 continues to sit in the Senate Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee, we urge legislators to vote against this bill. 

This bill asserts that data collected from purple air monitors cannot be used by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for regulatory or attainment purposes, which would have a chilling effect on citizen monitoring. Read more about the issue here.

What you can do: Urge the Senate Energy Committee to protect citizen air monitoring and OPPOSE SB 5018!

SB 688 – Wildfire Management on Public Lands 

SB 688 has not moved since our last update and continues to sit in the House Government Organization Committee. 

This bill opens all WV public lands to wide-spread timbering and “economic development” for special-interest projects. It also permits secret, noncompetitive bid contracts from out-of-state interests to threaten the beauty and value of our public lands. We believe West Virginians know best how to protect our public lands.

What you can do: Urge the House Gov Org Committee to OPPOSE SB 688 by completing this action alert from WV Rivers!

SB 618 – Carbon Exchange Program 

SB 618 passed out of the Senate this week and heads to the House Finance Committee next. 

This bill would create a state program for the sale and purchase of carbon offset credits, allowing the Division of Forestry to control the program and implement new and unnecessary rules and fees. This bill limits landowners’ rights, ability to manage their land, and access to competitive carbon markets.

What you can do: Urge the House Finance Committee to protect landowners’ autonomy and OPPOSE SB 618! Urge your Delegate as well by completing our action alert.

HB 5013 – Redefining Managed Timberlands 

(Similar to SB 822)

The good news is that SB 822, which attempted to change current carbon exchange agreements by imposing new taxes and unnecessary bureaucratic requirements, did not survive Crossover Day! The bad news is that HB 5013, a similar bill, is still circulating in the Senate. While the bill is not as oppressive as SB 822, our concern is that similar requirements could be added as it moves, making it just as detrimental to landowners’ rights to manage their timber. HB 5013 is currently sitting in the Senate Government Organization Committee. 

What you can do: Watch out for WVEC action alerts on HB 5013 this week! 

  To contact us, email isabelrstellato@gmail.com or luciavalentine10@gmail.com

Thank you for all you do and for making your voice heard at the Capitol! We appreciate your support! Let us know if you can join us for a day of lobbying during the final week of the session!

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