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W.Va. House 17 candidate: Dr. Matthew Rohrbach (R)

Sep. 18, 2014 @ 08:25 AM

PARTY: Republican

HOME CITY: Huntington


E-MAIL ADDRESS: rohrbach@uhswv.com

WEBSITE: mattforhouse.com

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I have had the privilege of caring for thousands of people from all over our region. Unfortunately, I am witnessing some very troubling trends in our community. Families are suffering from lack of employment opportunities paying a living wage. Drug abuse is destroying our entire region. Our youth are leaving in large numbers for areas with better job growth. I am seeking election to the House of Delegates so I can work to improve our community. I hope to bring new ideas and experience to the job of solving these and other complex problems.


AGE: 54

EDUCATION: Graduated Vinson High School in 1977. Attended Marshall University from 1977-1984 graduating with a doctoral degree in medicine.

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Physician specializing in Gastroenterology at HIMG for 24 years.

OTHER WORK HISTORY: Post graduate medical education at University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky and East Tennessee State University.

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Trustee of Teubert Foundation.

FAMILY: Wife, Vera Rose, married 26 years; daughter, Rachel, 18 years old and a senior at Huntington High School.


1. Are you satisfied that the Legislature has done enough to protect West Virginians from chemical spills? Please explain.

We need to focus on three aspects of this problem. Inspection of storage facilities including transport vessels, state and local emergency preparedness and the most up to date methods of monitoring water quality at the purification plants.

2. What measures do you support that would improve the lives of West Virginians, especially children, who are living in poverty?

Job creation will be the best government plan to help the poverty rate in West Virginia. We simply must become a competitor in the nationwide competition for new jobs. Otherwise the movement of your families and good friends out of state to find work will continue.

3. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?

We should assure horizontal drilling is carried out on each well site in accordance with the highest industry standards for safety with as little disruption to the surface land and water as possible.

4. What steps would you recommend to improve West Virginia's economy?

We have to create a business climate that will attract new employers to the state and build a more diversified economy. Tax and regulatory reform will have to be part of the plan. So will job skill training that better fits the needs of future employers.

5. Do you think more needs to be done to ensure high school graduates are competent? Explain.

Yes. A curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving is essential to be successful in today's job market. Competency in a vocational skill is just as important as college preparedness.

6. How do you propose keeping more students in school and reducing the truancy rate?

Stronger and more active involvement from parents is the key to attaining this goal.

7. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?

Providing families with the tools to be more involved with their children's education. Strengthening the counseling systems in all levels of education. A mentoring program for at risk youth and underachieving students would be very successful.

8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?

Develop a closer relationship between the secondary and post secondary vocational system and employers to train the workforce to the needs of the labor market.

9. What more should the state do to battle the prescription drug crisis?

Toughen law enforcement efforts to arrest and convict unethical doctors operating "pill mills". Drug courts for offenders that would require completion of drug rehabilitation.

10. Are there more steps the state should take to reduce obesity?

Education about the benefits of a healthier diet and exercise is the key. Colorado has an excellent program that West Virginia would be well served to follow.

11. How could the state help small businesses grow in West Virginia?

A better regulatory and legal climate will help small and large businesses grow. The state can help smaller businesses by making incorporation easier and less costly. Tax rates and regulations more in line with the surrounding states would be helpful.

12. Do you think the state should do more to reduce the size of the prison population?

For prison time to continue to be a deterrent for crime it has to be administered for the commission of crime. It needs to be fairly and evenly administered. I believe for certain non-violent crime, home confinement is very helpful. More use of the drug court system may help greatly reduce the prison population and aide drug rehabilitation efforts.

13. Do you support the West Virginia Department of Education's Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, West Virginia's plan to implement Common Core? Explain.

I support standards that assure our curriculum is producing well educated students who have the skills needed to be successful in the 21st Century job market. This does necessitate being aware of what other states require. I don't agree that more federal bureaucracy is needed to accomplish what I would prefer to see dealt with on the state level.
14. What needs to be done now to diversify the economy of West Virginia?

We must develop a plan to assess our assets and advantages. Then we can institute programs to recruit industries that fit this business model. Our advantages appear to be abundant natural gas and a central location in the eastern United States. By developing a plan of focused recruitment and workforce training to assist these industries we can achieve a growing state economy.
15. What solutions would you offer to deal with drug abuse problems in West Virginia?

Strong anti-drug education needs to start at an early age in our school system. Tougher police investigation and prosecution of drug dealers is necessary. Effective drug rehabilitation needs to be more accessible in our state. We also cannot ignore the effect a better economy will have on this problem.
16. How would you address the problems of barriers to employment and other services experienced by those in successful long-term recovery from addictions?

A focus on rebuilding the job skills of recovering addicts must be a key element of the addiction recovery program. We all need recovered addicts to return as productive citizens as soon as possible.

17. Do you support West Virginia asking the USDA to allow the state to say SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-nutritive soft drinks? Please explain why or why not.

I strongly support elimination of non-nutritive soft drinks from SNAP benefits. This will help the fight against childhood obesity and improve the oral health of our children.

18. West Virginia has the highest rate of smoking among pregnant women. We also have one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country. Do you support increasing the West Virginia state tax on tobacco products to coincide with the national average?

Yes. As a physician I support any measures that aim to reduce the rate of tobacco use.

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