H. B. 2255

(By Delegates Linch, Tillis, Seacrist,

Fleischauer, Yeager, Collins and Mahan)

[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the
Committee on Political Subdivisions then the Judiciary.]

A BILL 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 the members to be a candidate for or to hold a public office; prohibiting the 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 the 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:
§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 may 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; or
(4) Be a candidate for or hold any other public office or of the municipality in which he or she is employed.
(5) Be a candidate or delegate to any state or national political party convention or a member of any national, state or local committee of a political party, or serve as a financial agent or treasurer within the meaning of sections three, four or five-e, article eight, chapter three of this code.
(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 may 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 activities activity authorized by the provisions of this section. Any elected or appointed official who violates the provisions of this subsection shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by the penalties contained in section twenty-six article fifteen, chapter eight of this code of this article.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow professional firefighters to run for office except in the municipality where they work.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.