Patrick Morrisey says 100-day plan going well, still more to do - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Patrick Morrisey says 100-day plan going well but still more to do

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said if he had to give his office a grade for enacting his 17-point plan for his first 100 days in office, it would be a high B.

Why not an A?

Well, Morrisey said there is still more to do.

"I will give this office an A when there are changes in the economic climate," he told reporters in an April 24 news conference.

Morrisey's 17-point plan consists of the following:

Eliminating trinkets, sending settlement money back to the Legislature and taxpayers, ending taxpayer-funded campaigns, using competitive bidding for hiring outside counsel, conducting a full-scale audit of past attorney generals' office expenditures, collaborating with the Legislature to enact ethics reform, taking on the Environmental Protection Agency, creating an office of federalism and freedom, hosting a jobs summit, addressing Medicaid issues, cracking down on Medicaid fraud, fighting prescription drug abuse, prosecuting election fraud, educating West Virginians on health care, defending Second Amendment rights, joining religious liberty lawsuits and evaluating potential ethics violations.

Morrisey said his 17 goals have either been met or are in the process of being met. He mentioned specifically his reforms dealing with ethics, settlement money and how outside counsel is hired.

Morrisey announced March 21 the office will hire outside counsel through a competitive bidding process. The new policy also outlines contingency fees for outside counsel and the information that will be posted on the office's website.

Morrisey also praised the passage of Senate Bill 1005, which deals with how lawsuit settlement monies are managed. The bill made a supplemental appropriation from the civil contingent fund and consumer protection fun, returning millions of dollars in state settlement money to the general revenue fund.

"We are also laying the groundwork for comprehensive actions dealing with the prescription drug abuse epidemic," he said.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," he additionally stated. "Similarly, it will take more than 100 days to fundamentally improve our state's business climate. But at least West Virginians know we will always follow through on our word."

Morrisey handed out a nearly 300-page document explaining how he has met or plans to meet his goals.

The first area of discussion was Morrisey's trinket policy, which prohibits public funds to purchase self-promoting "trinkets."

His policies also banned the use of advertisements during an election year with Morrisey's name on them and limit his name or likeness for consumer education materials.

Additionally, Morrisey said he and his staff are working with the West Virginia Legislative Auditor's office to accomplish the full-scale audit of the previous attorney general office.

Documents noted this project is ongoing but additionally stated the office has instituted internal controls to refine the way certain expenditures are made.

A lengthy section also discussed how Morrisey has, or plans to, take on the EPA. Morrisey noted that he sent a letter in February to President Barack Obama urging him to take into account public interest when nominating a new EPA administrator.

The documents also said Morrisey's office is identifying potential environmental lawsuits that would affect West Virginia and he also conducted a review of all existing lawsuits brought by attorneys general against the EPA.

These kinds of cases include: "lawsuits challenging the EPA's endangerment finding, tailpipe rule and timing and tailoring rule," and challenges to the EPA's cross state air pollution rule.

Morrisey said he will continue to pursue litigation with several states challenging EPA air-emissions that affect coal-fired power plants.

Morrisey said he also created an informal group of in-house attorneys to collaborate with other attorneys general to fight federal overreach.

"Attorney General Morrisey decided to maintain this office in an informal manner instead of creating a formal new department, so that he could save monies and utilize the office's cross-cutting expertise on a variety of substantive issues relating to federal overreach," documents state.

Additionally, Morrisey mentioned his April 17 jobs summit and that he initiated discussions with state officials about improving the state's Medicaid program, has held discussions with the West Virginia DHHR to discuss how to work together to prevent Medicaid fraud, and initiated discussions about fighting prescription pill abuse.

Morrisey said he will continue to work with the DHHR and other state officials for several of these initiatives, including one of his goals: to educate people on health care.

His last few points discussed religious liberty lawsuits and ethics. Morrisey said he has joined with 12 other states in addressing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saying its proposed contraceptive insurance coverage amendments do not go far enough to protect businesses' and nonprofits' religious objections.  

In his final point, Morrisey said he is in the process of meeting with staff to examine any problematic activities in the attorney general's office.

He also said he is cooperating with the Legislative Auditor's office to address past office issues and said the office is conducting a separate internal review. Morrisey said findings will be released upon completion and that the office is awaiting additional findings of the audit, which will be taken into account with regard to potential discipline.