W.Va. AG Highlights 2018 Achievements with Year-In-Review

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey debuted a task force to more aggressively root out elder abuse, forced sweeping national reform to eradicate the opioid epidemic and fought to protect farmers, coal miners and countless others in his office’s continued push against federal overreach – all just a sample of the office’s significant accomplishments in 2018.

“This year has been full of tremendous achievements,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “By stopping elder abuse, eradicating senseless death associated with opioid abuse and pushing back against federal overreach, we can help West Virginia reach her full potential. We will continue to press onward in the coming year with the same vigor that made for so many victories.”

The Attorney General formed an elder abuse litigation and prevention unit to better connect seniors with the office’s robust capabilities and hold accountable anyone who exploits, abuses or neglects the state’s senior citizens. This effort led to the establishment of an elder abuse hotline, a scam alert database and regional councils of experts.

The team approach yielded a statewide initiative that partnered with senior meal delivery programs to raise awareness as to the red flags of financial abuse. The task force also partnered with community and technical colleges to offer computer literacy and cybersecurity training.

The Attorney General scored a major victory in the fight against opioid abuse when his lawsuit with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration locked in sweeping reform to national drug policy. Attorney General Morrisey’s unilateral action convinced DEA to embrace his call for greater input and consideration of illegal diversion in its determination of how many opioid pills can be manufactured each year.

The Attorney General affected change on the state level in reaching a $550,000 settlement against an accused pill mill in Boone County. He also convinced legislators to adopt an anti-retaliation law that alleviates negative consequences for doctors who refuse to prescribe deadly, addictive painkillers.

Those victories complement the year’s effort to raise wide awareness as to the dangers of prescription opioid abuse, whether by way of the office’s elementary and middle school design contest, its expanded partnership with in-state colleges to reach eighth grade students or its collaboration with high schools to reach student athletes and their communities.

On the regulatory front, Attorney General Morrisey remained a national leader in efforts to unwind and replace the so-called Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule – both Obama-era regulations that, if enacted, would have devastated farmers, coal miners and land owners across West Virginia.

The Attorney General attended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s unveiling of its proposed WOTUS replacement, months after his office succeeded in continuing to block enforcement of the Obama-era regulation.

The Attorney General led a 21-state coalition in expressing support for President Trump’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule, a replacement rule made possible by Attorney General Morrisey’s historic victory at the U.S. Supreme Court that blocked the Obama-era Power Plan.

Other accomplishments include the following:

  • Reaching a $2.65 million settlement with Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi to resolve allegations linked to its emissions cheating scandal.
  • Fought to stop or reduce the number of annoying and harmful robocalls to consumers.
  • Finished 2018 on pace to exceed $13 million in total projected savings through a partnership to root out disability fraud with the Social Security Administration.
  • Led a broad, bipartisan effort to protect memorials that include religious symbols.
  • Filed suit against Equifax alleging its 2017 data breach exposed more than 730,000 West Virginia consumers to the risk of identity theft.
  • Expanded the office’s involvement in DEA’s Drug Take Back Day by partnering with law enforcement and substance abuse groups at six sites across West Virginia.
  • Took multiple stands against sanctuary cities and the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the fight against illegal immigration.
  • Secured concealed carry recognition with Minnesota for the first time ever, while bolstering mutual recognition with Montana and maintaining recognition with Pennsylvania, despite its discontinuing of an agreement with another state.
  • Defended the tradition of legislative prayer in supporting the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Protected the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers in a victory before the U.S. Supreme Court and supported laws that prohibit certain types of abortion and require abortion providers to offer an ultrasound image of the unborn child.
  • Expanded efforts to target and reduce human trafficking beyond law enforcement with training sessions for school personnel, medical professionals, social service and child protective service workers, prosecuting attorneys and the community at large.
  • Successfully supported a wedding cake baker in defending his religious decision to refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
  • Engaged the faith-based community in fighting opioid abuse as part of the Attorney General’s “Combating Addiction With Grace” initiative.
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