Amanda Estep-Burton (D)
Education: Attended West Virginia State College
Occupation: Banker, assistant vice president
Daily Mail Opinion:
Q: Do you support the current practice of “civil asset forfeiture,” whereby state law enforcement can seize property from citizens even if they are never charged with a crime?
A: I recognize that civil asset forfeiture could be necessary for a conviction. It could also easily be abused without a system of checks and balances. We must require law enforcement to keep comprehensive records regarding when civil asset forfeiture is used and what items are confiscated. These records should be publicly, quickly and easily accessible.
Q: Should West Virginia join the 43 other states that allow students to attend public charter schools?
A: No. One of the strengths of public schools are their ethical and legal obligation to educate all students within their district. Some charter schools use their freedoms granted to them for innovation to shut out democracy, attract the students they want, while hiding important information from the public--- all while using taxpayer funds.
Q: Should the severance tax on natural gas (currently at 5 percent) be raised, lowered, or kept the same?
A: Raised. Texas is ranked among the top 10 natural gas producers in the U.S. Texas imposes a 7.5 percent severance and a 4.6 percent production tax. Pennsylvania charges an impact fee of 5 percent. The Pennsylvania legislature has proposed a new severance tax. We could raise our severance tax or introduce a production tax and remain competitive.
Q: What would you do to ensure that West Virginia protects communities from adverse environmental and public health impacts of the rising natural gas industry?
A: I would make certain that the natural gas industry followed all federal EPA regulations. I would support any appropriate fines for EPA violations.
Q: What legislation would you push to diversify West Virginia’s economy?
A: We need to reduce the business inventory tax, however we must find a replacement revenue stream to ensure funding to our schools isn’t impacted. Our proximity to major cities is favorable, making West Virginia a prime manufacturing location. I would push to make an attractive offer to encourage manufacturing industries to produce in West Virginia.
Q: How should West Virginia fund PEIA?
A: We need to look for long-term options, however for the immediate crisis, we should increase natural gas severance tax on gas that is shipped out of state. We could increase the severance tax and remain competitive with neighboring states.