Mike Pushkin (D)
Education: West Virginia University
Occupation: Taxi driver/musician
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 ran for the Legislature because I thought our leaders weren't doing enough in response to the chemical spill in our drinking water. With regard to the natural gas industry, I would like to see the Legislature follow the recommendations of the Chemical Safety Board and other evidence-based solutions to protect the health of West Virginians.
Q: What legislation would you push to diversify West Virginia’s economy?
A: Pass a “small cell” bill to create statewide standards and a streamlined application process to allow for the quick expansion of wireless high-speed broadband. I’d also fix the banking issue in regards to the Medical Cannabis Act, thus creating thousands of jobs while bringing relief to people who are suffering.
Q: How should West Virginia fund PEIA?
A: I’ve supported amendments to slightly raise the severance tax on natural gas, a tax that would mostly affect out-of-state corporations. I’d be willing to support other revenue enhancements to fund the program, provided they’re not regressive and don't disproportionately tax working people.
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 supported the bill to reform West Virginia’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws that stalled in House Judiciary. I do not believe the government should be able to take property without an arrest or conviction. We need to find other ways to fund law enforcement efforts to stem the tide of illegal drugs.
Q: Should West Virginia join the 43 other states that allow students to attend public charter schools?
A: The national experiment in charter schools has not delivered on the promise of improved education and increased test scores for our children. I'm against expanding this unregulated, privatization of the people’s money in West Virginia.
Q: Should the severance tax on natural gas (currently at 5 percent) be raised, lowered, or kept the same?
A: The severance tax should be increased by 1 percent as part of solution to the shortfall in PEIA. For too long, out-of-state corporations have received a lion’s share of the profits while our people have not reaped the benefits of our natural resources.