Judiciary Committee passes SB 373, votes down citizen suit provisions

In the early hours of this morning, the House Judiciary Committee passed SB 373. The text of the amended bill is not yet available on the legislature’s website, but the Gazette covered some details in this morning’s article. In addition to the changes to the bill that we mentioned previously, the Judiciary Committee also added a provision requiring the Bureau of Public Health to implement a medical monitoring program. They did not provide funding for this program.

The Judiciary Committee defeated an amendment that would have allowed citizens to sue to enforce the provisions of the law was defeated 15-10. Here is the breakdown of how delegates voted. Contact info for Judiciary Committee members is available here.

YES: Fleischauer, Hunt, Lane, Longstreth, Manypenny, Moore, Poore, Skinner, Wells, Manchin

NO: Ellem, Ferro, Frich, Hamilton, Householder, Ireland, Lynch, Marcum, McCuskey, O’Neal, Overington, Pino, Shott, Sobonya, Sponaugle

In addition to not allowing citizens to sue to enforce the law, SB 373 also limits the amount of information that can be made available to citizens about the contents of tanks. The Gazette reports that some details about location and chemical content of tanks will be exempted from Freedom of Information Act requests, making it difficult, if not impossible, for citizens to gain access to that information. The article notes:

Federal law requires the state to make chemical inventories public, through FOIA [Freedom of Information Act]. It was unclear if the amendment would conflict with federal law, as text of the amendment was only made available to delegates.

The bill now moves to the House Finance Committee. Contact information for the House Finance Committee is here.

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