CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey isn’t happy about House action on a bill that would change the proposed cap on his office’s Consumer Protection Fund.
On March 28, the House of Delegates made an amendment to House Bill 3062 to reduce the proposed cap on the fund from $6 million to $4 million. The bill is scheduled for a third reading in the House on March 29.
“We oppose any efforts to gut our consumer protection fund, which includes the state’s substance abuse fighting unit,” Morrisey said. “Now is not the time to let up on fighting substance abuse.
“I urge the Legislature to reverse course. This legislation would benefit tremendously from further consideration to prevent any unintended and negative consequences.”
Morrisey said his office has “done more than any other” to return money to the state’s coffers.
“Since 2013, my office has returned approximately $36.25 million in monies to the state and has brought in many millions more to state agency clients and consumers,” he said. “This Legislature should not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
HB 3062, also known as the State Settlement and Recovered Funds Accountability Act, would require funds won in cases by the Attorney General’s office to be deposited to the state’s General Revenue Fund. It would allow the AG’s office to keep a certain amount of money – $4 million, with the proposed amendment – in the Consumer Protection Fund. Any money over that cap would be submitted to the state every three months.
Morrisey has said he likes the concept of the bill.
“The legislature controls the power of the purse under our state Constitution, and needs to make the decisions on how money gets expended,” he told Hoppy Kercheval on WV MetroNews’ “Talkline” radio show.
In January, the state received $36 million in a settlement payment from prescription drug distributors AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health. The state ended up with $24 million of that after lawyer fees. Morrisey wants to take $8 million of that for the Consumer Protection Fund, which he notes is subject to legislative review.
HB 3062 also would create two new funds. One would have money for payment of attorney fees by the AG’s office. The second one would be used to pay restitutions and refunds to consumers.