Andrew D. Byrd (D)
Education: West Virginia University (B.S. in Accounting, 2004; J.D., 2008)
Occupation: Attorney at Warner Law Offices
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: Maybe something like the “West Virginia Natural Gas Council” should be formed where the public, state leaders, agencies, environmental groups and industry groups get together before every legislative session to have a dialogue about the industry and work together to address concerns in the industry, including environmental ones.
Q: What legislation would you push to diversify West Virginia’s economy?
A: The Legislature needs to focus on what West Virginia has now and what we can become. Colorado is an energy state that has diversified its economy well over the past decade. Besides cannabis, Colorado took the time to develop sub-industries off their natural resources (i.e. petro-chemical industry, byproducts of coal and coal ash, etc.). Colorado also has taken major steps to grow its technology sector.
Q: How should West Virginia fund PEIA?
A: Some revenue sources that could have a direct impact on PEIA are the opioid tax (I introduced a 10 cents-a-pill tax on the manufacturers and distributors of opioids that would have raised $27 million); sales tax on the West Virginia medical cannabis legislation; sports betting and other lottery games; tobacco tax; restructuring the severance tax; or an internet sales tax.
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: The most prudent thing for the Legislature to do is look at the West Virginia Contraband and Forfeiture Act and see what other states have done to reform similar acts. Some states have required a conviction for most forfeiture cases. Others have placed the burden of proof on the government to show that the civil forfeiture was proper.
Q: Should West Virginia join the 43 other states that allow students to attend public charter schools?
A: County school boards across West Virginia are already struggling with finances and facing a decline in enrollment. West Virginia needs to focus on the local public school systems it has now to ensure that teachers and school personnel have the resources needed to secure a successful future for our students.
Q: Should the severance tax on natural gas (currently at 5 percent) be raised, lowered or kept the same?
A: The Legislature needs to look again at the tiered severance tax proposal offered by the governor. If I recall correctly, the initial proposal stated that the severance tax could be increased up to 10 percent, or fall to a minimum of 3.5 percent. The proposal needs to be revisited and well thought through.