WEST virginia Legislature
2016 regular session
Senate Bill 494
By Senators Beach and Plymale
[Passed March 10,
in effect 90 days from passage]
AN ACT to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §4-14-1, §4-14-2, §4-14-3, §4-14-4 and §4-14-5, all relating to creating the Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability; setting forth findings, purpose and intent; defining terms; designating makeup and compensation of commission; authorizing meetings of the commission; stating powers and duties of commission; providing a limited subpoena power to the commission; and requiring certain reports.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §4-14-1, §4-14-2, §4-14-3, §4-14-4 and §4-14-5, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 14. LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMISSION ON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ACCOUNTABILITY.
§4-14-1. Findings, purpose and intent.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:
(1) Investment in infrastructure is crucial to the well-being of West Virginians and West Virginia businesses;
(2) The state must spend funds wisely on infrastructure in order to get the best return on investment and must make long-term plans for investment;
(3) The federal government is an unpredictable and unreliable partner in providing consistent funding for infrastructure investment;
(4) The Legislature directed a Division of Highways performance and efficiency audit in 2015; and
(5) In order to maintain proper oversight to ensure that sufficient transportation planning is made, funds are spent wisely and efficiently, and the Department of Transportation is functioning appropriately, the Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability is hereby created.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that all actions taken pursuant to the provisions of this article by the Legislature and the Department of Transportation serve the following core set of principles:
(1) That all Department of Transportation infrastructure investments be coordinated to maximize efficiencies and minimize cost thereby addressing the needs of the citizens more effectively;
(2) That communication be facilitated among the various agencies within the Department of Transportation and between the department and the Legislature;
(3) That policy changes, not made by legislative rule, be discussed with the commission for purposes of coordinating those policies with stated goals;
(4) That programs or policies implemented in accordance with federal mandates be communicated to the commission;
(5) That in developing and implementing programs with private or federal grant moneys, the various agencies communicate their efforts to the commission to ensure and facilitate future state funding; and
(6) That any Department of Transportation agencies exempted from rule-making review by federal or state statutes advise the commission of program changes which may affect infrastructure investment in West Virginia.
As used in this article:
(1) “Agency” means each agency, authority, board, committee, commission or division of the Department of Transportation;
(2) “Commission” means the Legislative Oversight Commission on Transportation Accountability, as created in section three of this article; and
(3) “Department” means the Department of Transportation.
§4-14-3. Creation of a Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability.
(a) There is hereby created a joint commission of the Legislature known as the Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability. The commission shall be composed of seven members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate and seven members of the House of Delegates appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates. No more than four of the seven members appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, respectively, may be members of the same political party. In addition, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates shall be ex officio nonvoting members of the commission. The co-chairs of the commission shall be the chair of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the chair of the House Roads and Transportation Committee. At least one of the Senate appointees and at least one of the House of Delegates appointees shall be a member of the committee on finance of the Senate and House of Delegates, respectively. The members shall serve until their successors shall have been appointed as heretofore provided.
(b) Members of the commission shall receive such compensation and expenses as provided in article two-a, chapter four of this code. Such expenses and all other expenses including those incurred in the employment of legal, technical, investigative, clerical, stenographic, advisory and other personnel shall be paid from an appropriation to be made expressly for the Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability: Provided, That if no such appropriation be made, such expenses shall be paid from the appropriation under Fund No. 0175 for Joint Expenses created pursuant to the provisions of said chapter: Provided, however, That no expense of any kind payable under the account for joint expenses shall be incurred unless first approved by the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
(c) The commission shall meet at any time both during sessions of the Legislature and in the interim or as often as may be necessary.
(d) The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates shall assign such staff as may be deemed necessary to aid the commission in carrying out the provisions of this article.
§4-14-4. Powers and duties of commission.
(a) The powers, duties and responsibilities of the commission include the following:
(1) Make a continuing investigation, study and review of the practices, policies and procedures of the department;
(2) Make a continuing investigation, study and review of all matters related to transportation policy in the state;
(3) Review long-term plans by the various agencies of the Department of Transportation and how they impact the citizens of West Virginia;
(4) Conduct studies on:
(A) The amount of state, federal and other funds expended in infrastructure investment in the state and the plan for future funds;
(B) The costs associated with failure to invest in the infrastructure of this state to citizens and businesses;
(C) The extent to which the state is maximizing available federal programs and other moneys in providing transportation investment to the citizens of this state;
(D) The operation of the Department of Transportation as a whole or its individual agencies; and
(E) The roles of the public, private and private nonprofit sectors in collaborating for improved infrastructure investment;
(5) Review and study the funding mechanisms for the State Road Fund and review any plans to adjust funding to ensure the necessary investment is made;
(6) Review and study the feasibility and financial impact upon the state of the long-term transportation plans in place in the department and its agencies; and
(7) Review and study the feasibility and financial impact upon the state of the establishment of alternative long-term transportation plans and alternative funding sources.
(b) The commission shall make annual reports to the Legislature regarding the results of all investigations, studies and reviews pursuant to the provisions of section five of this article.
(c) Limited subpoena power: —
(1) For purposes of carrying out its duties, the commission is hereby empowered and authorized to examine witnesses and to subpoena such persons and books, records, documents, papers or any other tangible things as it believes should be examined to make a complete investigation.
(2) All witnesses appearing before the commission under subpoena shall testify under oath or affirmation. Any member of the commission may administer oaths or affirmations to such witnesses.
(3) To compel the attendance of witnesses at such hearings or the production of any books, records, documents, papers or any other tangible thing, the commission is hereby empowered and authorized to issue subpoenas, signed by one of the co-chairs, in accordance with section five, article one, chapter four of this code. Such subpoenas shall be served by any person authorized by law to serve and execute legal process and service shall be made without charge. Witnesses subpoenaed to attend hearings shall be allowed the same mileage and per diem as is allowed witnesses before any petit jury in this state.
(4) If any person subpoenaed to appear at any hearing refuses to appear or to answer inquiries there propounded, or fails or refuses to produce books, records, documents, papers or any other tangible thing within his or her control when the same are demanded, the commission shall report the facts to the circuit court of Kanawha County or any other court of competent jurisdiction and such court may compel obedience to the subpoena as though such subpoena had been issued by such court in the first instance.
§4-14-5. Legislative reports.
(a) The department shall report to the commission annually on or before December 31 of each year and provide detailed reports as directed by the commission. The commission shall describe to the department, in writing, the criteria to be addressed in each report. Reports required by this subsection may be provided in a format as directed by the commission.
(b) The commission shall submit annual reports to the Legislature, as required by the provisions of section four of this article, which such reports shall describe and evaluate in a concise manner:
(1) The major activities of the Department of Transportation and its agencies for the fiscal year immediately past, including important policy decisions reached on initiatives undertaken during that year, especially as such activities, decisions and initiatives relate to infrastructure investment, long-term planning for infrastructure investment, use of federal funds and any public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment.
(2) Other information considered by the commission to be important, including recommendations for statutory, fiscal or policy reforms and reasons for such recommendations.
(c) The reports may specify in what manner any practice, policy or procedure may or should be modified to satisfy the goal of efficient and effective delivery of infrastructure investment and to improve the quality of roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure in the state.