Attorney General Morrisey Works With Governor, Legislature to Reform Process for Appropriating Settlement Money
CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today applauded members of the West Virginia Legislature for approving a supplemental appropriation bill that establishes a new precedent for how lawsuit settlement monies are managed. Senate Bill 1005, which passed the House of Delegates unanimously today after being approved by the Senate yesterday, returns millions of dollars in state settlement monies to the General Revenue Fund.
The bill’s passage was the result of many weeks’ worth of cooperation between the Attorney General’s Office, the Governor, and members of the Legislature.
“The passage of Senate Bill 1005 marks an important step for our state and the Attorney General’s Office,” Morrisey said. “I campaigned on a platform of returning lawsuit settlement monies back to the Legislature and the taxpayers, and the promises made many months ago have been kept. This bill and its approval by members of the Legislature shows this is a new day in the Attorney General’s Office.”
Specifically, SB 1005 expires $7.459 million of unencumbered funds in the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Recovery Fund to the State’s General Revenue Fund. It then directs $3.5 million of that money to DHHR’s Consolidated Medical Service Fund for behavioral health programs, $1.6 million to the Higher Education Policy Commission, and $500,000 to the Department of Commerce. The remaining $1.859 million will be reappropriated to the Attorney General’s Office for much-needed personnel, technology improvements and operating expenses.
With the agreement, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Governor and the Legislature established a new policy for dealing with settlement monies. The Attorney General’s office will have three years of operating monies to fund the Consumer Protection Division and pursue cases. Any monies that are brought into the office above the three year operating allowance (and not otherwise dedicated specifically for restitution for consumers) that previously would have been spent at the discretion of the Attorney General will now be made available for the General Fund.
“This bill is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of different parties, but I want to specifically thank Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate President Jeff Kessler, House Speaker Richard Thompson, Minority Leaders Mike Hall and Tim Armstead, Finance Chairmen Roman Prezioso and Harry Keith White, as well as many members of the House and Senate, for working with my office on this important issue,” Morrisey said.
“When I ran for this office, I said I did not want to act as a ‘Super Legislature’ by allocating state settlement money as I saw fit,” Morrisey added. “I said I wanted to seek Legislative appropriations for our accounts and return monies to consumers and taxpayers instead of using the office to dole monies out for pet projects. Through this agreement, I am living up to that promise and changing the way Charleston operates.”