CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Wednesday kicked off a statewide tour he hopes will spur job growth in West Virginia and change its bad reputation among some business and law groups.
Speaking at a press conference in the Capitol rotunda, Morrisey provided few specific details on how he could accomplish that, only listing broad goals for his "jobs summit and listening tour."
He hopes to remove "regulatory barriers" he believes are hindering job growth; increase non-government employment; attract new investments to build up the states' manufacturing, service and construction industries; increase West Virginia's competitiveness with surrounding states; and improve the state's image among out-of-state people and businesses.
Morrisey began his press conference by referencing several studies that rank West Virginia among the worst states for business growth.
"If people can't think we can't go farther down from 47th, they're wrong," he said.
Morrisey said every elected official should focus on improving the state's economy, and said changing the state's reputation would require "missionary work" by elected officials.
While the attorney general's job traditionally has been to handle legal matters for the state, Morrisey said he believes there are ways his office could help the state economy.
He said the attorney general could identify legal issues thwarting job growth as well as ways for the government to "get out of the way" of economic development.
He said the office also could focus its attention on doctors who illegally prescribe narcotics, adding to the state's prescription drug abuse problem, which Morrisey said is a major stumbling block to building the state's workforce.
"We could start to snuff out some of the supply," he said.
Morrisey plans to take his listening tour to all areas of the state, but said cost for the endeavor would be minimal. He said the office would not make any special trips for the tour, but would tie his appearances to other official attorney general business.
Morrisey has repeatedly accused former Attorney General Darrell McGraw of using funds from the office, especially money used to pay for travel and trinkets, to help his reelection campaigns.