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The West Virginia Legislature is considering nixing the state income tax to entice people to move to here. It’s a good start, but those new folks better get here quick because, with no income tax, things like roads and bridges will soon begin to crumble. But then, that might be the true genius of the plan. Get people to move here, then make it impossible for them to leave.

But getting rid of the income tax isn’t the only way to get people to move here, stay here or generate extra income. Here’s a few well-thought-out ideas I hope the Legislature will consider.

  • Eliminate tolls for northbound traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike, but increase southbound tolls to $75 per booth. That should keep people from leaving by that route. Better still, encourage people to enter the state from the south by giving them $5 per booth.
  • Host the Olympics. That always seems to be a financial winner.
  • Invest in GameStop.
  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey should file a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court disavowing not just the elections in Pennsylvania and Michigan, but disavowing those states altogether, forcing their populations to move to West Virginia.
  • The legislators could legalize recreational marijuana. Eventually, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky are going to do this, and people are going to go to those places to spend money. But West Virginia, I predict, will not legalize marijuana until 50 years after every other state has, and we will lose out on tons of cash.

Our Legislature is seldom proactive, and while West Virginia could be the first state in the region to legalize, it won’t. Because marijuana, like gambling and Sunday liquor sales, is not something decent people tolerate.

Oddly, our state leaders eventually found ways to assuage their consciences and legalize the lottery, casino gambling, dog racing, horse racing, Sunday hunting (but only on private land) and Sunday liquor sales (but not until after 1 p.m. so you can’t drink in church). So why not legalize dope? Sure, it’s a moral outrage, but so is gambling and hunting drunk on Sunday. Our state leaders have a knack for reshaping their ethical outlook when sin becomes profitable.

The lottery is justified as a good thing because some proceeds go to education. We could do the same with weed. Call it “Toke for the Tots” or “Stoned for Students.” We could offer scholarships called “Doobie Degrees.” The possibilities are endless.

  • Another idea is to require all our state lawmakers to take part in the next breech of the U.S. Capitol. We got so much national press from Derrick Evans allegedly storming the Capitol. Next time, let’s send everybody. That way all the QAnon and militia folks will think West Virginia is the place for them, and they will flock here, tax free and Mountaineer free.
  • On a similar note, and in the name of equality, we should subtly change the state motto from Montani Semper Liberi to Montani Semper LGBTQ. Don’t announce it or anything, because that would cause a ruckus. But just start putting it on the flag and seal.

Obviously, that won’t happen. Sure, the legislators want people to move to West Virginia, buy houses, spend money, feel welcome and not pay taxes ... but not “those” people.

  • As for generating retail income, we might consider inventing a mining practice called mountaintop removal, then justify the process by promising to build outlet malls on all the flattened hills, which will draw thousands of shoppers to the most absolutely remote regions of the state. Wait? What? We did that? Did it work?
  • Finally, West Virginia should expand its carbon footprint. You heard me. More greenhouse gases! We’ll call it the Greenhouse Gas New Deal.

The way it works is this: We pump tons of carbon into the air, thus hastening climate change. As a result, temperatures in Arizona will soar into the 150s, California will burn down, Florida will be swallowed by the sea and the Shenandoah Mountains will become the East Coast.

At that point, West Virginia’s temperate climate will make it just about the only habitable place on earth. Folks will have no choice but to move here. We’ll change the name of Lewisburg to Myrtle Beach, and no one will have to leave the state to go on vacation.

Obviously, once the whole world lives here, we could abolish the southbound surcharge of $75 per toll booth. But we won’t, because the tolls on the Turnpike never go down.

Hope this helps.

Bil Lepp, of South Charleston,

is a professional storyteller

and a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist.