W.Va. Attorney General, State Representative Talks Education, Opioid Epidemic, New Green Deal At Town Hall Meeting | Newspaper
MARTINSBURG – With a promise to fight for West Virginians statewide, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and State Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, hosted a town hall meeting with residents of the Eastern Panhandle to discuss education, the opioid epidemic and the possible impact of the Green New Deal on Mountain State.
Held in one of the hangars at the East West Virginia Regional Airport to accommodate social distancing, Morrissey and Rucker provided citizens in attendance with an update on several state legislative issues regarding education, as well as ongoing court cases being or soon to be dealt with by the Attorney General’s office.
“Every day we have to defend either a state law that has been passed or we could challenge the federal government when it files a complaint against the Constitution or its regulations,” Morrissey said. “We need more ways to express the meaning, the vision that came through the Declaration of Independence, that came through the US Constitution and through the Constitution of Western Virignia. We need to get this message out, and I think the Legislature has accomplished this, and that is why I am very proud to stand up for this work.
According to Morrissey, his office has been busy preparing to defend the interests of West Virginia and its citizens, including efforts to address the possible loss of oil and gas jobs following the shutdown. the Keystone pipeline and the impact that Biden’s Green New Deal could have. have on the state’s coal mining industry.
In fact, when it comes to the clean energy plan, Morrissey said his office is already preparing a “detailed and factual” case to present against the plan so that it does not affect the livelihoods of around 300,000. coal workers and even more Western Virginians who depend on it for energy.
Morrissey said the office’s current focus is to deal with the Purdue Pharmacy lawsuit, which discusses the pharmaceutical company’s role in creating the opioid epidemic, where Morrissey said metrics have finally been released describing how states would be paid as a result of the settlement.
Morrissey said the current payment scale depends entirely on a state’s population, not on the actual effect the outbreak has had on the citizens of each state, an issue Morrissey described as a travesty for Virginia. -Western, which has arguably been hardest hit by the problem, but is not doing it. boast the same population numbers as states like New York or Texas.
“I want to make sure West Virginia is treated fairly, because we were at zero in the opioid epidemic, and any formula that came out of the drug regulations, I think, should reflect the seriousness of the problem within. state, not just based on population. This position doesn’t make me popular in many more populous states, but it doesn’t matter. The reality is that West Virginia needs to be treated appropriately based on what’s going on in our state. It is a challenge that we must face, however, because too many people have died. So we are trying to take action to resolve this issue. “
In addition to the updates provided by Morrissey, Rucker shared updates on several education bills passed in this last legislative session, answering questions from curious parents in attendance regarding some of the most popular bills. controversial.
Among the many bills passed, Rucker said, Senate Bill 14 would help create a way to alternately certify teachers to help meet the growing need for educators in the state. Another bill would update the civics and history curriculum in West Virginia, and yet another would streamline the driver education process for families with teenagers, allowing teachers to teach and teach. ‘administer the written driving test in schools, so that students only have to visit a DMV for their driving. test.
One of the most controversial bills passed, Rucker said legislation had been approved allowing more charter schools and virtual charter schools to enter the state.
“I admit myself that online virtual doesn’t work for everyone,” Rucker said. “But it does work for some parents and some families, and to me it didn’t make sense for us to force all parents in West Virginia to go virtual, without warning, resources or plans to do so, and it doesn’t. clearly didn’t work. So if we allow charter schools, we should allow virtual charter schools that know how to make it work and have the resources to do it. Why not allow them as well? We need to make these options available to everyone. “
Rucker also touched on the passage from the Hope Scholarship Program, a topic that received the most feedback from attendees.
According to Rucker, the Hope Scholarship Program, which will not take effect until July 2022, is an education savings account program, first launched in West Virginia history, to help families and public school students to afford other means of education.
Only the sixth or seventh such program in the country, Rucker said the state’s goal is to have the largest and most open education savings account program possible.
Rucker said the program would help families who might not be able to afford home schooling or a private school for their public school students by creating a savings account for approved students, which would deposit a set amount. on the student’s account in August and January. to help cover tuition fees outside the public school system.
The money could only be used on a fixed list of eligible items, and the remaining funds would be carried over and could be used the following year until the student graduates, is disqualified, leaves the program, or has 21 years old.
Rucker said that only students entering and enrolled in public school kindergarten in the fall of next year or students enrolled in public school during the entire 2021-2022 school year would be eligible for the scholarship program when ‘it will be available. next summer.
Rucker said that in order to apply, students must have been enrolled and attended a public school for at least 45 days. As of its start date, current students in homeschools or private schools are not eligible.
Several parents in attendance inquired about the finer criteria needed to qualify for the program, and Rucker explained that for parents who might be homeschooled children, there is now hope.
According to Rucker, if the Hope Scholarship did not see an enrollment scholarship of more than 5% of the state’s overall public school enrollment, then by July 2026 it would be open to all West Virginia students. , regardless of their enrollment in a public or private school or if they are homeschooled.
Morrissey shared his support for all of the bills passed in this legislative session and added that he believes the Hope Fellowship will help exponentially advance education goals in the state.