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Bill introduced to force WV attorneys with high state pay to have WV licenses

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A short, simple bill introduced Friday in the House of Delegates seems to have a direct purpose.

House Bill 2788, sponsored by 11 Democratic delegates, would require any attorney employed by the State of West Virginia in positions making $100,000 or more to have a license to practice law in the Mountain State.

The state's new Attorney General Patrick Morrisey named Elbert Lin his solicitor general and said Lin was in the process of applying for a West Virginia law license.

Before that appointment, Lin was a partner at the Washington D.C.-based firm of Wiley Rein.

Lin makes $132,000 at the Attorney General's office, according to the Associated Press, and Morrisey changed Lin's title to senior assistant to the attorney general.

Morrisey said in a statement the bill is "petty politics at its worst," and called the bill "childish."

"When the West Virginia Legislature should be dedicating its time on issues such as education reform and economic development, these delegates have introduced a bill that attempts to stop state offices and agencies, including the Attorney General's Office, from hiring talented and well-qualified lawyers and professionals who will help our state save millions of dollars," Morrisey said in a statement.

Morrisey said West Virginia needs "incredible legal talent" to reduce the millions of dollars the state has historically paid for outside counsel each year. Morrisey said Lin is making one-third of his previous salary.

"West Virginia was able to score a major victory when this office hired Elbert Lin," Morrisey said. "He has impeccable legal credentials as a former clerk for a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, a partner at Wiley Rein, which is one of the premier law firms in the nation, and editor of the Yale Law Journal.

"How many other lawyers in the state have clerked for a Supreme Court justice?"