CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sponsors of a bill increasing the penalties for littering in West Virginia hope the changes deter the practice.
The measure (HB 2303) passed the House of Delegates Monday afternoon 95-3. Those convicted of littering could be fined up to $10,000 depending on the size of the item. Illegally dumping something weighing less than 100 pounds could result in a fine from $100 to $2,500 and community service between 8 and 100 hours. The stiffest fine could be $10,000 for large items and 200 hours of community service.
Bill sponsor Rupie Phillips (I-Logan) said the fines in the current law don’t stop littering.
“We have a beautiful state. Let’s keep it beautiful. I challenge every magistrate and every teacher. The magistrates not to drop the (littering) charges and the teachers to teach the kids not to litter,” Phillips said.
An open dump near a trail head of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail in Mingo County has to be addressed, Del. Justin Marcum (D-Mingo) said.
“We have tourists from all over America, people representing three continents last year at this trail head, and to see the devastating effect and the look on their faces when they see these dumps—it’s sad,” Marcum said.
House Judiciary Committee Chair John Shott (R-Mercer) told delegates intent is not a required element for conviction, which brought a question from Del. Pat McGeehan (R-Marshall).
“Say a Happy Meal bag from McDonald’s blows out your window and you don’t have intent. Potentially a judge has the latitude to punish you up to 100 hours of community service?” McGeehan asked.
“Yes,” Shott said.
The bill now moves on to the state Senate.