Morrisey Announces Issues He Hopes Legislature Addresses

CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today announced some of the issues and items the Office of the Attorney General hopes lawmakers will consider during the 2015 legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.

Some of the issues were introduced during previous sessions but never made it through both chambers, including attempts to codify some of the administrative changes made within the Office of Attorney General. Morrisey also said he  would welcome laws that ban taxpayer-funded ads in election years that feature an officeholder’s name or likeness.
“We believe the policies put in place in 2013 have proven to be successful and should become permanent,” Morrisey said. “The reforms have and will continue to save money. The new outside counsel policy we enacted has made the process more open and transparent and saved the state approximately $3.9 million in legal fees. Our agreement with the Governor and legislative leaders to return unencumbered settlement monies to the state while ensuring that the Consumer Protection Division is properly funded has resulted in $16 million being returned to the General Revenue Fund in the past two years.”
Morrisey also said he would support a law that called for more regular audits of all state agencies, departments, divisions, and offices.
“I believe elected leaders need to take an aggressive stand and end the cycle of waste and abuse that has plagued our state for too long,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “One of the key takeaways from the many town hall meetings I hosted throughout the state is that West Virginians want more accountability in state government. I believe more audits will restore citizens’ confidence and faith that their hard-earned tax money is being wisely spent.”
Morrisey also hopes lawmakers will address the issue of term limits, and he would specifically like to see an amendment limiting the Attorney General to two consecutive terms in office, similar to limits already placed on the Governor. Morrisey is not opposed to seeing similar limits placed on other constitutionally elected offices.
“In this day and age where we have a more vital two-party system, I think it would behoove everyone to have term limits, particularly on the Attorney General’s Office,” Morrisey said. “That was something I campaigned on in 2012 and something I still very much believe in. A government of the people should be accessible to the people.”
Other legislative issues Morrisey says he believes lawmakers should take up are legal reforms, including how liability is calculated; legislation protecting citizens’ religious liberties; and how the state deals with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Our Office has taken a lead role among state attorneys general in fighting back against the EPA for pushing proposals that are contrary to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws, and put jobs in our state in jeopardy,” Morrisey said. “We think it would help West Virginia if our state had more flexibility to determine whether it should submit a State Improvement Plan to come into compliance with EPA proposed rules governing existing coal-fired power plants. We should put the state in the best strategic position to defeat this EPA proposal. ”
Morrisey said he hopes lawmakers address tax reform in the future but understands that may not happen overnight.
“I think everyone is united in their hopes that this session will see meaningful changes that will help propel West Virginia forward,” Morrisey said. “We have entered into a new era in the state, and I am excited to see what transpires over the next 60 days.”
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