Local Issue 1: Reduce Traffic and Improve Infrastructure in Morgantown
Unlike many parts of the state, the greater Morgantown area has grown tremendously in the last decade. During this time the citizens of the county have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in state taxes. It is time for more of those dollars to come back to the area to support our growth and infrastructure. Despite some creative fixes in strategic locations, the traffic in Morgantown continues to be a problem. The city, county, and state need to work together with the WVU and other area businesses need to find long term solutions to this problem and we need state funding to support it. I would like to serve as a liaison for the people of the community at the state level to look at creative fixes for the traffic and infrastructure problems of the area. The key is all levels of government need to work with other interested parties to find solutions. We need to look at all ideas such as park and rides at key areas in town, encouraging use of public transportation, encouraging employers to have staggered release of their shifts, WVU to not offer classes at high traffic times. We need to consider all ideas ‘good ideas’ in an effort to come up with solutions.
One idea is instituting “Homerule” in Monongalia county where the county would have greater control over highway and infrastructure improvements. The cost of addressing our roads and associated traffic problems is estimated to be in excess of $440 million. To pay for improvements the idea is to implement a 1% temporary sales tax in the county (with some matching money from the the State). The tax revenue gained would be used to pay off bonds that would pay for the road improvement. Although, I am not in love with a total overhaul of the road system nor do I like more taxes, but this very well could be part of the solution. We need to proceed cautiously in this area as I am aware taxes once raised never seem to go away.
Local/State Issue 2: Support our Volunteer Fire Departments
Most of us don’t realize that there are 12 volunteer fire departments that serve in Monongalia County. These people are more than just volunteers putting their life on the line for us for free. They are in most cases paying out of their own pockets to cover their departments costs because of their love of serving. A large portion of their funding to pay for gear, trucks, training, etc. is not set in stone year to year and would be disastrous if they lost it. If we see our VFDs disappear we could see our property values plummet, fire insurance costs increase, and municipal taxes sky rocket. The state is getting a great deal as it only has to cover the equipment, training and trucks. The largest part cost comes for free which is a huge skilled labor force doing the work for free. This is a “no brainer” and we need to make sure the funding is there for them every year.
Local/State Issue 3: Support our Police Departments
There was a time when you could go almost anywhere in Mon County after dark and feel safe. Those days are unfortunately gone. We need to make sure funding is there for our local police force to be large enough and capable of doing their jobs. Lets face it there are benefits to being a college town and there are downsides. One of the downsides is that it costs the city a lot of money to police a town full of students. How many couch fires, alcohol incidents, and riot-like events have we seen after the football and basketball games? I propose we pass that cost along to the group that is University through impact fees. A $30 per student impact fee would go a long way to cover the extra costs.
State Issue 1: Protect the Integrity of our Political System with Term Limits, Voter ID, and greater access to the voting records of our Legislators.
Term Limits. When the founders of our country put the constitution into place they didn’t intend on the legislative body to be encompassed of career politicians. The House of Representatives much like the WV House of Delegates is set up with two year terms. The founders intended on frequent turnover in the position to allow new people and new ideas to be able to be voiced as the needs of the citizens changed. The US Senate was structured for 6 year terms to allow for more stability in the other part of our legislative body so if the moods of the citizens swung too far one way or the other there would be more of an anchor to keep things stable. Our founders did not intend for people to hold position in our legislature for decades regardless of in the House or Senate. I propose term limits for WV House Members of eight years. I propose term limits of State Senate members of 12 years. We need to put a ‘check’ on our legislative body to protect the citizens from politicians getting into office and gathering power, and money which can make it nearly impossible for them to be removed.
Eliminate Voter Fraud through Voter Identification. It is vital we protect one of the most important rights we have as United States Citizens, our right to vote. West Virginia has been ripe with voter fraud for decades and it needs to stop now. A simple measure of taking a person’s identification at the polls is a way to mitigate this risk.
Make Legislator Voting Records Easier to Access. Although the voting records are available, many West Virginians don’t know where their legislators stand on the issues. The reason is many people don’t know where to look to get the information. And even if they did know where to look, the access point for the records is difficult and a slow process to use. As a result many get their information from political ads, special interest groups, and T.V. clips (often times with an agenda behind them). We need to make the information quickly and easily accessible to the voting public and then promote it so they know where to find it.
State Issue 2: Balance Our State Budget and Don’t Dip into Our Rainy Day Fund! Our state has enormous fiscal challenges over the next 5 years. Medicaid rolls have increased by 100,000 people since last October which means that 25% of West Virginians now receive free healthcare and the state’s costs to cover this is going to increase substantially. PEIA’s reserve fund for state workers health insurance will be gone by the end of 2015 which means that taxes will need to increase or state worker’s will have to pay higher premium costs. The legislature has also agreed to increase teachers salaries. This on top of the fact that the state is already running over budget. We have a ticking clock with regard to our budget problems and it needs to be addressed fast.
We have four choices: 1) We can continue dipping into the rainy day fund to cover these increasing expenses (which will eventually be depleted) 2) We can increase taxes. 3) We can cut wasteful spending. 4) We can work to expand our economy and increase our tax base to raise tax revenue. In my opinion the best options are the last two. But we are working on borrowed time as its going to be a fight to make cuts and it takes time to build and expand an economy. We need fundamental real change and I propose the following to start:
- We need to revoke the cap and trade bill passed back in 2009. By 2025 it requires that 25% of the energy in West Virginia be renewable energy which is much more expensive than coal or natural gas. Higher energy prices are not good for our economy or the middle class and will inevitably drive business out of West Virginia.
- We need to protect our citizens, hospitals, businesses and farmers from frivolous lawsuits. Threats of lawsuits drive the cost of doing business up and ultimately drive people and business from the state.
- We need to work with the businesses already in our state and thank them for doing business here and ask them what we can do to help them.
- We need boots on the ground to recruit business from states such as California and New York that have incredibly high regulations and taxes.
- We need to learn from what other states such as Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota are doing in the natural gas industry and make sure West Virginia takes full advantage of the opportunity it has.
Brian’s Core Beliefs
Core Belief: The Role of Government
The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the best governmental documents ever written. These documents are the framework for the law of the land and should be followed accordingly.
- To provide for basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
- To provide defense from foreign and domestic enemies.
- To protect citizens from all types of crime.
- To provide a legal system to judge and sentence criminals.
- To assist businesses to be successful, not control them.
Over the last 80 years the role of state and federal government has increased in our lives and has become bloated and inefficient. This is not what our founders intended and we need to change this trend as quickly as possible.
Core Belief: Taxation
Taxation is a necessary part of how the government is funded to provide for basic government services. But over time the government has taken on the role of doing much than it should which has caused much too high of taxes.
This is all God’s creation and I believe it is our responsibility as the human race to take care of it the best way we can. Although the animals and plants and the rest of the environment are very important, I do not put them ahead of the needs of people. As an avid fly fisherman and businessman I believe we need to strike a balance that protects the environment and the needs of our citizens.
Core Belief: Energy
I come from 4 generations of coal miners and I see how the coal industry has provided for my family over the last 100 years. The coal industry and utility industry have come a long way in reducing the impact it has on land, water and air. I am afraid these advancements may be in vain as the regulatory environment on coal mining and coal fired power plants very well may kill the industry. I am most concerned about losing our coal mining jobs and the impact high utility costs will have on our country’s citizens.
Core Belief: Labor and Unions
Besides having a masters degree in labor relations I have nearly two dozen union employees in my family going back three generations. These unions include UMWA, Postal Workers, and Teachers Union. I have seen first hand the continued need for unions to exist to protect employees from employer overreach. I also have learned to detest how corruption can ruin the testimony of unions.
Core Belief: Family
- The government should not intrude in the affairs of the family unless there are instances of criminal activity and child abuse. The parents have always been the final authority with regard to their kids and it should stay that way.
- Life starts at conception and all life is sacred and a gift from God. I am pro life. I supported the 20 week fetal pain bill that the Governor vetoed this past legislative session that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. I am happy to say that I have been endorsed by the West Virginians for Life for the November election.
- We need to protect our children while they are in state funded schools. This means protection from bullying and from heinous acts, but while maintaining our constitutional rights.
Core Belief: Constitutional Rights
I am a firm advocate for the rights our founders fought for and our veterans have fought to protect over the years. I am firmly a constitutional conservative and look at all of the rights guaranteed to us in the constitution should be honored and protected. The second amendment of the bill of rights guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. I am a strong supporter of our second amendment rights. I have been given an A rating by the West Virginia Citizens Defense League (WVCDL) and have received their endorsement for the November election.
Core Belief: Education
I believe the federal government has become much too involved with our education system. I am very disappointed that our state adopted Common Core. It is now being implemented in West Virginia and as a father of three children, I would much rather see our children being taught by teachers that have more flexibility over the coursework and day to day activities in the classroom.