H. B. 4298
(By Delegates Manchin and Morgan)
(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary)
[February 11, 2014]
A BILL to amend and reenact §6B-2-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to changing the experience requirements of the composition of the members of the West Virginia Ethics Commission.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §6B-2-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. WEST VIRGINIA ETHICS COMMISSION; POWERS AND DUTIES; DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTEREST BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES; APPEARANCES BEFORE PUBLIC AGENCIES; CODE OF CONDUCT FOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES.
§6B-2-1. West Virginia Ethics Commission created; members; appointment, term of office and oath; compensation and reimbursement for expenses; meetings and quorum.
(a) There is hereby created the West Virginia Ethics Commission, consisting of twelve members, no more than seven of whom shall be members of the same political party. The members of the commission shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Within thirty days of the effective date of this section, the Governor shall make the initial appointments to the commission. No person may be appointed to the commission or continue to serve as a member of the commission who holds elected or appointed office under the government of the United States, the State of West Virginia or any of its political subdivisions, or who is a candidate for any of those offices, who is employed as a registered lobbyist, or who is otherwise subject to the provisions of this chapter other than by reason of his or her appointment to or service on the commission. A member may contribute to a political campaign, but no member shall hold any political party office or participate in a campaign relating to a referendum or other ballot issue.
(b) At least two members one member of the commission shall have served as a member of the West Virginia Legislature; at least two members one member of the commission shall have been employed in a full-time elected or appointed office in state government; at least one member shall have served as an elected official in a county or municipal government or on a county school board; at least one member shall have been employed full-time as a county or municipal officer or employee; and at least two members one member shall have served part time as a member or director of a state, county or municipal board, commission or public service district and at least four seven members shall be selected from the public at large. No more than four members of the commission shall reside in the same congressional district.
(c) Of the initial appointments made to the commission, two shall be for a term ending one year after the effective date of this section, two for a term ending two years after the effective date of this section, two for a term ending three years after the effective date of this section, three for a term ending four years after the effective date of this section and three shall be for terms ending five years after the effective date of this section. Thereafter, terms of office shall be for five years, each term ending on the same day of the same month of the year as did the term which it succeeds. Each member shall hold office from the date of his or her appointment until the end of the term for which he or she was appointed or until his or her successor qualifies for office. When a vacancy occurs as a result of death, resignation or removal in the membership of this commission, it shall be filled by appointment within thirty days of the vacancy for the unexpired portion of the term in the same manner as original appointments. No member shall serve more than two consecutive full or partial terms and no person may be reappointed to the commission until at least two years have elapsed after the completion of a second successive term.
(d) Each member of the commission shall take and subscribe to the oath or affirmation required pursuant to section five, article IV of the Constitution of West Virginia. A member may be removed by the Governor for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or violation of this chapter, after written notice and opportunity for reply.
(e) The commission shall meet within thirty days of the initial appointments to the commission at a time and place to be determined by the Governor, who shall designate a member to preside at that meeting until a chairman is elected. At its first meeting, the commission shall elect a chairman and other officers as are necessary. The commission shall within ninety days after its first meeting adopt rules for its procedures.
(f) Seven members of the commission shall constitute a quorum, except that when the commission is sitting as a hearing board pursuant to section four of this article, then five members shall constitute a quorum. Except as may be otherwise provided in this article, a majority of the total membership shall be necessary to act at all times.
(g) Members of the commission shall receive the same compensation and expense reimbursement as is paid to members of the Legislature for their interim duties as recommended by the Citizens Legislative Compensation Commission and authorized by law for each day or portion thereof engaged in the discharge of official duties: Provided, That to be eligible for compensation and expense reimbursement, the member must participate in a meeting or adjudicatory session: Provided, however, That the member is not eligible for expense reimbursement if he or she does not attend a meeting or adjudicatory session in person.
(h) The commission shall appoint an executive director to assist the commission in carrying out its functions in accordance with commission rules and with applicable law. The executive director shall be paid a salary fixed by the commission or as otherwise provided by law. The commission shall appoint and discharge counsel and employees and shall fix the compensation of employees and prescribe their duties. Counsel to the commission shall advise the commission on all legal matters and on the instruction of the commission may commence appropriate civil actions: Provided, That no counsel shall both advise the commission and act in a representative capacity in any proceeding.
(i) The commission may delegate authority to the chairman or executive director to act in the name of the commission between meetings of the commission, except that the commission shall not delegate the power to hold hearings and determine violations to the chairman or executive director.
(j) The principal office of the commission shall be in the seat of government but it or its designated subcommittees may meet and exercise its power at any other place in the state. Meetings of the commission shall be public unless: (1) They are required to be private by the provisions of this chapter relating to confidentiality; or (2) they involve discussions of commission personnel, planned or ongoing litigation and planned or ongoing investigations.
(k) Meetings of the commission shall be upon the call of the chair and may be conducted by telephonic or other electronic conferencing: Provided, That telephone or other electronic conferencing and voting are not permitted when the commission is acting as a hearing board under section four of this article or when the Probable Cause Review Board meets to receive an oral response as authorized under subsection (d), section four of this article. Members shall be given notice of meetings held by telephone or other electronic conferencing in the same manner as meetings at which the members are required to attend in person. Telephone or other electronic conferences shall be electronically recorded and the recordings shall be retained by the commission in accordance with its record retention policy.