On Wednesday, July 23, West Virginia’s Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, came to the Courthouse Annex and held a Town Hall Meeting. When he asked the assembled citizens if there were any pressing issues anyone wanted to tell him about, for several seconds there was a silence like when a Sunday School teacher asks, “Now, who can tell me that Bible verse.”
Commissioner Diane Hinkle then made a statement to the effect that Tucker County residents were generally pretty happy to be here. Then statements were made by other speakers that our county is one of the most beautiful in West Virginia and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation to a vast population within 200 miles of us.
Commissioner Hinkle did mention concerns about the county’s lack of financial resources which in large part is due to either the state or federal government owning a large portion of the land. This results in a smaller than normal tax base that greatly contributes to our financial difficulties. She also mentioned the dwindling coal severance revenues as an area of concern.
Another citizen stated that, “…institutes like those in Canaan Valley should pay their fair share.” This is because a large proportion of homes, particularly in Canaan Valley, are second homes and the tax revenue from those homes is lower because the owners pay no personal property tax to Tucker County.
The inventory tax was mentioned as it poses a huge financial burden on all business no matter the size. Every year business owners must pay taxes on everything they own that pertains to their business. Also, if something is no longer on the inventory from the previous year documentation to prove that is necessary. AG Morrisey said changing this would require a constitutional amendment. He told the assembly that his office is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the law, but cannot bring about new legislation.
Before the question and answer session, Attorney General Morrisey highlighted some of the changes brought to the AG’s office since he came into office. Instead of outside attorneys being assigned they must now bid for any openings. Also, his office sends out scam alerts any time there is a need, he has worked to return monies to the general fund, and has appointed a substance abuse task force.
In response to a question, AG Morrisey also talked about what a supporter he is of the Second Amendment and the right to carry a concealed weapon. He has been working with other states to gain reciprocity agreements which allow licensed WV citizens to legally carry guns into other states.
In response to a question about fracking complaints, AG Morrisey said he was “…open to new economic ability…” such as fracking, but also stated that anyone signing an agreement with a gas producer was responsible for carefully reading the contract themselves before signing!
He prides himself on challenging the Environmental Protection Agency when they are perceived as over reaching their authority while trying to protect West Virginia’s resources of land and citizens’ health. He told the assembly that West Virginia is ranked third among the states for producing energy, but we are ranked 49th or 50th economically. He stated that one way to become more economically competitive is “…dealing with frivolous lawsuits.”
During the time he was here Attorney General Morrisey dealt with many other valuable, interesting topics and his visit was generally appreciated. Much more information on the actions of the AG’s office can be found by searching online under WV Attorney General office.