Conservative Principles With Integrity

If elected, I will work with all stakeholders to ensure that all Mountaineers benefit from legislative action, with a focus for Berkeley County and the Eastern Panhandle. The following issues are of high priority to me.

Right to Work

“Right to Work” laws have made West Virginians more competitive in the Mid-Atlantic Region. I vigorously oppose any legislation that will repeal them. 

Government Reform

We need regulatory and social safety net reform, along with more selective privatization and public-private partnerships, so West Virginia will prosper and remain competitive. Excessive and arbitrary regulatory actions are endless in our state. Duplicative and unnecessary rules and regulations have become burdensome on our citizens and businesses. Our state also has the lower labor participation rate in the country—less than half of adults are working. Conversely, we are a state with the highest disability claim rates in the country—a number that skyrocketed following the financial crash in 2008 when people sought disability claims as their unemployment benefits ran out.

Infrastructure

We need to bring new jobs to the Eastern Panhandle by upgrading our transportation, water and sewer, and broadband and energy. We need the following reforms:

  1. Prioritize road projects in areas where growth is occurring, particularly in the Eastern Panhandle
  2. Restore funding cuts to the Infrastructure, Jobs and Development Council so other available funding sources for water and sewer projects can be leveraged to meet needs across our state and those funds can be distributed accordingly
  3. Adopt additional measures to streamline the permitting process for water and sewer projects
  4. Make all necessary efforts to address the natural gas need of the Eastern Panhandle, which could include public-private partnership financing or dedicating a portion of gas severance taxes for pipeline development in areas where access to natural gas is limited
  5. Pursue all opportunities to improve the deployment of and access to broadband service throughout our state, including the establishment of public-private partnerships to push broadband service “the last mile” into our homes and businesses

Tax Reform

West Virginia is one of only ten states that imposes property taxes on business inventory. We need the following state and local tax reform to grow our economy:

  1. Amend our state constitution to allow the legislature to exempt licensed motor vehicles from property taxes and then to reduce or phase out, in an orderly and fiscally responsible manner, property taxes on business inventory, machinery and equipment, and other tangible personal property
  2. Require professional and objective valuation of property taxes in the state as well as use an income method in determining the assessed value for income-producing property
  3. Create an unbiased and independent review body for property tax disputes
  4. Allow local county and municipal governments broader, more flexible revenue-raising authority and more flexibility and responsibility for spending decisions, namely in matters related to infrastructure and schools
  5. Allow for the coordination and consolidation of local government services between and among adjacent counties and municipalities

Budget Reform

The people of West Virginia have no ability to see where their tax dollars are spent in our current budget process. With lack of oversight, we have seen government grow exponentially and wasteful spending wreak havoc on our state budget. We need the following reforms to improve transparency and oversight:

  1. Amend our state constitution to allow the consensus approach to develop revenue estimates upon which the annual budget must be based
  2. Require the payment of state agency fee and fine collections to the state’s general fund and require agencies to request those monies through the appropriations process
  3. Institute zero-based budgeting in their annual budget process
  4. Institute measures requiring agencies to revert any unspent and unencumbered surpluses they accrue back to the General Revenue Fund
  5. Add resources to the Legislative Auditor’s Office and/or the State Auditor’s Office to provide additional oversight on state government operations
  6. Enhance the authority and capacity of the Attorney General’s office to pursue enforcement of violations revealed by such audits and investigatory actions
  7. Adopt the concepts embodied in the Ohio Transparency Project

Legal Reform

West Virginia is one of only ten states without an intermediate court, by which a party that lost in a local trial court has a guaranteed right of plenary review of  trial verdicts to make sure that the law is correctly applied to the facts in each case. Two independent commissions have recommended the formation of an Intermediate Court of Appeals.   

Neither of the two actions the West Virginia Supreme Court took in response to this deficiency effectively addressed the problem. Here are the reforms we need:

  1. Create an intermediate appellate court, together with a right of first appeal on the merits from most final judgments in the circuit courts
  2. Specifically include, in the jurisdiction of such an intermediate court, appeals of all domestic and worker injury cases and any other matters which are on appeal from the circuit courts after having first been adjudicated by a county commission or administrative agency
  3. Realign the current circuit court system based on relative caseloads, to result in the consolidation of low-caseload circuits
  4. In judicial elections, unless one candidate receives an outright majority of the votes cast for that seat, a run-off at the next general election between the two candidates with the highest vote totals should be required