PARKERSBURG - The West Virginia attorney general said he wants the law to remain consistent for the benefit of all the people.
Area residents came out Wednesday evening to the Parkersburg City Building to ask West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey about things his office could do to address the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare; regulations from the federal Environmental Protection Agency that are impacting the state's coal industry, and people's rights in dealing with companies wanting to lease natural gas rights.
''The law permeates everything we do,'' Morrisey said.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey addresses a group of residents Wednesday evening at the Parkersburg City Building on issues they feel are affecting the state.
This town hall meeting is one of more than 20 that have been conducted by Morrisey across the state.
''We are taking questions from citizens on anything they think we should be doing to help drive our state forward,'' Morrisey said. ''The fact is West Virginia needs to focus tremendous resources to advance economic growth in West Virginia.
''That is something we are focusing on. A lot of people don't realize this, but the office of attorney general can play a positive role in advancing economic growth in West Virginia whether it is through issuing legal opinions that clarify ambiguous laws or counseling state agencies on less burdensome ways to comply with regulations or bringing litigation to protect our state's consumers and industries.''
Questions regarding the EPA and coal have been universal across the state, he said.
''That comes up time and time again,'' Morrisey said. ''The EPA has really been strangling the West Virginia economy.''
Morrisey announced that today his office will be filing a U.S. Supreme Court brief, with other states, in regard to EPA regulations.
He talked about how state residents have been impacted by the rollout of the signups for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
''We have spent a lot of time protecting consumers from potential harm,'' Morrisey said. ''We want to ensure that consumers' privacy is protected.''
One woman brought Morrisey to task about how some regulations are in place to protect people's health as well as maintaining clean water and air for the state. She said cutting down regulations could impact people's health and safety.
The state is seeing a re-emergence of black lung disease and children born with developmental issues because of things being put in the environment, she said.
Morrisey said they have lawyers that review every line of these new regulations to see if the EPA has overstepped its authority.
''There could be laws and regulations that come on the books that I just don't like, but there could be nothing I can do,'' he said. ''If they are worded the right way and are consistent with the rule of law, you are not going to see the office of attorney general taking that on.
''I will be blunt, if the EPA is going to exceed its legal authority to push regulations through we cannot let that happen, regardless of what the policy desirability is,'' he said.
Morrisey said he wants to see the state have clean air and water and steps need to be taken for groups and agencies to work together to accomplish that.
''We are a nation of laws,'' Morrisey said. ''My job as attorney general is to make sure the law is appropriately interpreted and enforced.
''If something is outside the law, we just can't shoehorn it in even if we like it.''
Congress should have the authority to craft laws to address these concerns, he said.
''We should never twist the law around like a pretzel in a way in order to get some desired policy outcome,'' Morrisey said. ''What works for you one time to get your desired policy outcome, won't work the next time if you get the wrong judge.
''The law is the one thing in our society that should be consistent that shouldn't be interpreted to favor one political interest over another. We don't hesitate to file suit to protect our state's legal interest,'' he said.