Tom Tull (D)
Education: Morris Harvey College graduate; earned master's degrees from Marshall University.
Occupation: Retired (former school teacher, principal, administrator)
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: Environmental and public health situations must be closely watched by state inspectors armed with regulations and penalties. Citizen complaints must be addressed within a reasonable amount of time, preventing damage that can be stopped and corrected. Contracts should be approved by state regulators to make sure landowner rights are protected.
Q: What legislation would you push to diversify West Virginia’s economy?
A: A diversified economy opens the doors for providing the goods and services of a growing community. Legislation that would invest resources in public education, tourism, public safety and services including health, retail, financial and legal services, reliable high speed internet and other infrastructure can lead to growth in these supportive industries.
Q: How should West Virginia fund PEIA?
A: To fund PEIA there must be a reliable source of funding. Suggestions include an increased tax on natural resources, internet sales, sugary drinks, tobacco and alcohol. Suggestions that taxes on new state products like industrial hemp could be used. It seems likely that the Legislature will use a mix of revenue from these sources.
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: Civil asset forfeiture is a crime-fighting tool that has been a deterrent to criminals and a revenue source for law enforcement. However, occasionally errors are made. When suspects are not charged, then their property should be returned. More training and closer oversight by supervisors may be needed to reduce errors.
Q: Should West Virginia join the 43 other states that allow students to attend public charter schools?
A: If by public charter schools, parents can request placement in public school systems’ magnet schools (specializing in curriculum like science, math or language, history), that would be permissible. The state constitution requires the state create and support a free and equitable public school system. All state citizens benefit from educating all children.
Q: Should the severance tax on natural gas (currently at 5 percent) be raised, lowered or kept the same?
A: State government must pass a balanced budget. The proposed expenditures establish a general idea of how much money is needed. Now, the revenue estimates are higher than expected. It’s not clear if there will be enough money for the coming budget. If there is a shortfall, all possibilities must be considered, including the gas severance tax.