A woman was removed from the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday after she used her testimony about a fossil fuel-sponsored piece of legislation to list industry donations to state lawmakers.
Lissa Lucas ventured to Charleston to voice her objections to the proposed bill, HB 4268, which would give oil and gas companies the right to drill on private land with the consent of just 75 percent of the landowners. Current law mandates energy companies obtain 100 percent approval before they can develop land, allowing a single person to hold up drilling.
Lucas, also a Democratic candidate for West Virginia’s seventh district, used her testimony to read a list of donations that lawmakers had received from oil and gas companies, information that was publicly available. But shortly into her allotted time, Lucas was ordered to refrain from making “personal comments” about members of the House Judiciary Committee.
“The people who are going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry,” Lucas said, noting that “the people who are going to be voting on this bill are often also paid by the industry.”
“I have to keep this short because the public only gets a minute and 45 seconds while lobbyists can throw a gala at the Marriott with whiskey and wine and talk for hours to the delegates,” she added.
As Lucas read the list of donations, her microphone was cut off. She asked the committee to allow her to finish, and when lawmakers refused, she told them to “drag me off.”
“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas wrote on her personal blog. “Allow me to point out that if Delegates genuinely think that my talking about who their campaign donors are ― and how much they’re receiving from corporate lobbyists/corporate PACs ― is an ad hominem attack… then they should be refusing those donations.”
The bill was later passed by the committee and will go to the lower House and state Senate for a full vote, where it is expected to pass, Newsweek reported. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) has said he will sign the bill into law.
Lucas stood by her actions in her blog post, saying lawmakers should feel guilty about these campaign contributions.
“Refuse any donation that, if someone mentions it, makes you feel personally attacked,” she wrote. “Because that’s not an attack. That’s guilt. And you SHOULD be feeling that. Let that guilt about who you’re really working for inform your votes; don’t let the corporate money do it.”
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