Senate Bill No. 257
(By Senators Wagner, Macnaughtan, Schoonover and Grubb)
[Passed March 9, 1996; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend and reenact section twenty-four, article fifteen,
chapter eight of the code of West Virginia, one thousand
nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to political
activities of members of paid fire departments; setting
forth prohibitions and exceptions thereto; authorizing such
members to be a candidate for or to hold a public office;
prohibiting such members from being a candidate for or from
holding a public office in the municipality in which they
are employed; providing for the removal from office of such
member; when employment status to be protected; and setting
forth criminal penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section twenty-four, article fifteen, chapter eight of
the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 15. FIRE FIGHTING; FIRE COMPANIES AND DEPARTMENTS; CIVIL
SERVICE FOR PAID FIRE DEPARTMENTS.
§8-15-24. Political activities of members prohibited; exceptions.
(a) No member of any paid fire department may:
(1) Solicit or receive any assessment, subscription or
contribution, except for his or her own candidacy, or perform any
service for any political party, committee or candidate for
compensation, other than for expenses actually incurred;
(2) Use any official authority or influence, including, but
not limited to, the wearing by a member of a paid fire department
of his or her uniform, for the purpose of interfering with or
affecting the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate or
the passage or defeat of any ballot issue: Provided, That this
subdivision shall not be construed to prohibit any member of a
paid fire department from casting his or her vote at any election
while wearing his or her uniform;
(3) Coerce or command anyone to pay, lend or contribute
anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency or
person for the nomination, election or defeat of a ballot issue;
(4) Be a candidate for or hold any other public office in
the municipality in which he or she is employed.
(b) Other types of partisan or nonpartisan political
activities not inconsistent with the provisions of subsection (a)
of this section are permissible political activities for members
of paid fire departments.
(c) Any member of a paid fire department who violates the
provisions of this section shall have his or her appointment
vacated and shall be removed, in accordance with the provisions
of section twenty-five of this article.
(d) No person shall be appointed or promoted to or demoted
or dismissed from any position in a paid fire department or in
any way favored or discriminated against because of his or her
engagement in any political activity authorized by the provisions
of this section. Any elected or appointed official who violates
the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by
the penalties contained in section twenty-six of this article.