H. B. 2663
(By Delegates Moye, T. Campbell, Manchin,
Shaver, Stephens, Barker, M. Poling and Doyle)
(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary.)
[February 3, 2011]
A BILL to amend and reenact §24-1-3 and §24-1-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to the conduct of hearings by the Public Service Commission and its designated hearing examiners; requiring the Commission to preside en banc over any hearings conducted with respect to any case in which the Commission retains to sit en banc as the initial finder of fact; and deleting obsolete language.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §24-1-3 and §24-1-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
§24-1-3. Commission continued; membership; chairman; compensation; quorum.
(a) The Public Service Commission of West Virginia is continued and directed as provided by this chapter, chapter twenty-four-a, chapter twenty-four-b and chapter twenty-four-d of this code. After having conducted a performance audit through its joint committee on government operations, pursuant to section nine, article ten, chapter four of this code, the Legislature hereby finds and declares that the Public Service Commission should be continued and reestablished. Accordingly, notwithstanding the provisions of section five, article ten, chapter four of this code, the Public Service Commission shall continue to exist until July 1, two thousand three. The Public Service Commission may sue and be sued by that name.
(b) The Public Service Commission shall consist of three members who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The commissioners shall be citizens and residents of this state and at least one of them shall be duly licensed to practice law in West Virginia, with not less than ten years’ actual work experience in the legal profession as a member of a State Bar.
(c) No more than two of the commissioners shall be members of the same political party.
(d) Each commissioner shall, before entering upon the duties of his or her office, take and subscribe to the oath provided by section five, article IV of the Constitution of this state. The oath shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State.
(e) The Governor shall designate one of the commissioners to serve as chairman at the Governor’s will and pleasure. The chairman shall be the chief administrative officer of the commission. The Governor may remove any commissioner only for incompetency, neglect of duty, gross immorality, malfeasance in office or violation of subsection (c) subsections (g) and (h) of this section.
(b) (f) The unexpired terms of members of the Public Service Commission at the time this subsection becomes effective are continued. Upon expiration of the terms, appointments are for terms of six years, except that an appointment to fill a vacancy is for the unexpired term only. The commissioners whose terms are terminated by the provisions of this subsection are eligible for reappointment.
(c) (g) No person while in the employ of, or holding any official relation to, any public utility subject to the provisions of this chapter or holding any stocks or bonds of a public utility subject to the provisions of this chapter or who is pecuniarily interested in a public utility subject to the provisions of this chapter may serve as a member of the commission or as an employee of the commission.
(h) Nor may any commissioner be a candidate for or hold public office or be a member of any political committee while acting as a commissioner; nor may any commissioner or employee of the commission receive any pass, free transportation or other thing of value, either directly or indirectly, from any public utility or motor carrier subject to the provisions of this chapter. In case any of the commissioners becomes a candidate for any public office or a member of any political committee, the Governor shall remove him or her from office and shall appoint a new commissioner to fill the vacancy created.
(d) (i) The salaries of members of the Public Service Commission and the manner in which they are paid established by the prior enactment of this section are continued. Effective July 1, 2001, The annual salary of each commissioner provided in section two-a, article seven, chapter six of this code shall be paid in monthly installments from the special funds in the percentages that follow:
(1) From the Public Service Commission Fund collected under the provisions of section six, article three of this chapter, eighty percent;
(2) From the Public Service Commission Motor Carrier Fund collected under the provisions of section six, article six, chapter twenty-four-a of this code, seventeen percent; and
(3) From the Public Service Commission Gas Pipeline Safety Fund collected under the provisions of section three, article five, chapter twenty-four-b of this code, three percent.
(j) In addition to the salary provided for all commissioners in section two-a, article seven, chapter six of this code, the chairman of the commission shall receive $5,000 per annum to be paid in monthly installments from the Public Service Commission Fund collected under the provisions of section six, article three of this chapter.
§24-1-4. Appointment, duties and compensation of secretary and other employees; hearings generally; outside employment by certain employees prohibited.
The commission shall appoint a secretary and such other employees as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and shall fix their respective salaries or compensations. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a full and true record of all proceedings, acts, orders and judgments of the commission, to issue all necessary process, returns and notices, to keep all books, maps, documents and papers ordered filed by the commission, and all orders made by the commission or approved and confirmed by it and ordered to be filed; and he shall be responsible to the commission for the safe custody and preservation of all such documents in his office. He may administer oaths in all parts of the state, so far as the exercise of such power is properly incidental to the performance of his duty or that of the commission.
The commission may designate such of its employees as it deems necessary to hold hearings, held or required by this chapter, and to take evidence at such hearings, which employees are hereby empowered to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, require the production of documentary evidence and exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be delegated to them and required by the commission, in any proceeding or examination instituted or conducted by the commission under this chapter, at any designated place of hearing within the state.
On any matter the Commission retains to hear en banc as the initial finder of fact, the Commission shall preside en banc over all hearings that are conducted with respect to that matter, including any associated public protest hearings.
Any commissioner or person employed by the commission other than on a part-time basis shall devote full time to the performance of his duties as such commissioner or employee during the regular working hours as set by the commission.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the Commission to sit en banc over all hearings conducted with respect any matter in which the Public Service Commission has retained to decide en banc as the initial finder of fact, including any associated public protest hearings. The bill also deletes obsolete language.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.