Senate Bill No. 193
(By Senators Bowman, Dittmar, Kessler,
Snyder, White, Deem and Kimble)
[Passed February 26, 1998; in effect from passage.]
AN ACT to amend and reenact chapter fifty-five of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by
adding thereto a new article, designated article fifteen,
relating to creating a commission to study the implementation
of alternative dispute resolution programs.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter fifty-five of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article fifteen, to read as
ARTICLE 15. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION COMMISSION.
§55-15-1. Legislative findings and purpose.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares:
(1) That due to growing concern with limits on access to
justice arising from court case backlog, delays and costs, that it has been beneficial to implement an alternative dispute resolution
program in various circuit courts of our state and in certain
(2) That since implementation, these procedures have proven to
be a highly-effective method for resolving disputes without
resorting to adjudicatory measures, thereby easing the burden of
cases pending in the judicial system;
(3) That alternative dispute resolution is continually
changing the perceptions regarding the appropriateness and
effectiveness of court procedures, and that the continuation and
growth of these procedures is important in enhancing the quality of
life for the citizens of this state;
(4) That the effectiveness of the alternative dispute
resolution programs implemented in the state and in other states
has increased but more definition and synthesis is necessary to
better serve the citizens; and
(5) That the purpose of this article is to create a
commission, as hereinafter constituted and appointed, to study
various facets of alternative dispute resolution including, but not
limited to, defining the objectives and goals of the programs, the
types of disputes to be resolved, the promulgation of a system to
ensure appropriate uniformity of alternative dispute resolution
programs statewide, certification or licensure of persons engaged
in providing services in alternative methods of resolving disputes and the structuring and funding of such programs.
(b) The Legislature further declares that it recognizes that
the provisions of section 1, article V of the constitution of West
Virginia prohibit any person from exercising the powers of more
than one branch or department of government at the same time;
however, it is the express purpose, intent and finding of the
Legislature that those members of the commission who are members of
the Legislature are acting as such while serving on the commission
and in the furtherance of the Legislature's inherent right and
power to investigate and inquire into and report on those matters
which are legitimately within its powers, and that since the
commission's role and duties are investigative and reportive in
nature, the service upon the commission by its legislative members
is not violative of nor inimical to the constitutional mandate with
respect to the separation of governmental powers.
§55-15-2. Alternative dispute resolution commission created;
composition; appointment of members; chairman.
The West Virginia alternative dispute resolution commission is
hereby created. The commission shall consist of eleven members,
who are designated or to be appointed as follows:
(a) The chief justice of the supreme court of appeals of West
Virginia, or his or her designee, shall serve as the chair of the
commission, and shall appoint two additional members, one of whom
is currently serving as a circuit court judge;
(b) The speaker of the House of Delegates and the president of
the Senate, or their respective designee, shall be members, and the
speaker of the House of Delegates and the president of the Senate
shall appoint one additional member;
(c) Two members shall be appointed by the governor who shall
be representative private citizens;
(d) The dean of the West Virginia university college of law
shall appoint one faculty member to the commission who possesses
knowledge and experience unique in alternative dispute resolution
(e) The executive director of the West Virginia state bar.
§55-15-3. Compensation and expenses of commission members;
expenses of commission.
(a) Members of the commission shall be reimbursed for their
reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses actually
incurred in connection with the performance of their duties as
members of the commission including, but not limited to, their
attendance at meetings thereof.
(b) The expenses of the members of the commission shall be
paid from legislative appropriations.
(c) Members of the commission shall receive no other
compensation for their services on or with the commission other
than the reimbursement of expenses as provided in this section.
(d) The president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Delegates shall designate a member of the legislative staff to
serve as counsel and reporter to the commission.
§55-15-4. Powers and duties of the commission.
The commission shall have the following powers, duties and
(a) To conduct a thorough and comprehensive study into the
various ways and means of financing and structuring the alternative
dispute resolution programs, define the goals and objectives of
alternative methods of resolving disputes in the state, determine
types of disputes to be included within any alternative dispute
resolution programs, evaluate the advantages of establishing
certification or licensure of persons engaged in providing services
in alternative methods of resolving disputes and propose a system
to ensure appropriate uniformity of alternative dispute resolution
(b) To request such information and data from any state
officer or agency or from any political subdivision of the state as
the commission may deem necessary to assist it in the performance
of its duties and it shall be the duty of all such officers and
agencies to cooperate with and assist the commission in and about
the completion of its studies and deliberations;
(c) To confer with representative citizens, the judiciary, the
legal profession and other groups of the private and business
sectors with respect to all matters deemed relevant to the duties of the commission;
(d) To notify the chair of the commission on the future of the
judiciary so that the commission established herein may share
information with such commission on the future of the judiciary;
(e) To perform every other act necessary or desirable to carry
out any of the other powers, duties or responsibilities enumerated
in this article; and
(f) To file its final report with respect to its findings and
conclusions, together with any legislation it deems appropriate to
recommend and as it deems necessary to carry its findings and
conclusions into effect with the president of the Senate and the
speaker of the House of Delegates not later than the thirtieth day
of November, one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight.
§55-15-5. Meetings of the commission; quorum.
The commission shall meet at such times and places as its
chair shall deem to be proper and expedient. Such meetings shall
be coordinated with and be in conjunction with the monthly meeting
of the joint committee on government and finance insofar as the
same may be practicable. Nothing herein shall preclude the
commission from meeting with such frequency or at such times and
places as it may determine. The presence of no less than six
members of the commission shall constitute a quorum for the
purposes of conducting any business.
§55-15-6. Interpretation of article; termination of commission.
(a) The provisions of this article shall be liberally
construed in order to permit the commission sufficient latitude for
the orderly completion of its studies and duties.
(b) The commission shall cease its existence on the thirty- first day of December, one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight.