H. B. 4749
(By Delegates Beane and L. White)
[Introduced February 25, 2000; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article twelve, relating
to initiative and referendum; definitions; and limitations.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article twelve, to read
ARTICLE 12. VOTERS' REFERENDUM.
§3-12-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "Voters' Referendum Act."
As used in this article:
(a) The term "referendum" means the use of a petition by certain registered voters to propose the rejection of a law
enacted by the Legislature or other elected or appointed
governmental body at a regularly scheduled general election held
less than two years after the filing of a proper petition, to
approve, or reject the constitutional amendments, statutes or
specific portions thereof, ordinances, rules, charter provisions
and other legislation of every character by a simple majority of
the votes cast on the issue.
(b) The term "governmental body" means the state
Legislature, elected or appointed state officials, boards and
commissions, and elected or appointed regional, county, municipal
or local officials, boards or commissions, but specifically
excludes decisions, orders or opinions of the supreme court of
appeals, circuit judges, family law masters and magistrates.
(c) The term "law" means any constitutional amendment,
statute or specific portion thereof, ordinance, promulgated rule,
regulation, charter provision, or other legislation of any kind
or character, including, but not limited to, all local, special,
municipal, regional and county ordinances, including those
enacted by an appointed or elected board of a school district.
(d) The term "registered voters" refers to those voters who
are duly registered to vote, and who reside in the state,
district, county, municipality or locality over which the
appointed or elected governmental body which passed the law in question has jurisdiction.
§3-12-3. Referendum powers established; limitations; petition
form; percentage of signatures required; validity of
referendum petition; limitations; effective date;
secretary of state to propose rules for promulgation;
article liberally construed.
(a) The voters, as defined in section two of this article,
may, by petition, initiate a referendum on a law duly passed by
an elected or appointed governmental body.
(b) To initiate a local or county referendum election
pursuant to this article, a petition for referendum, including
all copies thereof, must contain the signatures of a number of
the registered voters residing in the affected district equal to
at least twelve percent of all of the votes cast for the office
of governor in the district in the most recent quadrennial
general election preceding the filing of the petition.
(c) To initiate a statewide referendum election pursuant to
this section, a petition for referendum, including all copies
thereof, must, in each county of two thirds of the counties of
this state, contain the signatures of a number of the registered
voters residing in said county equal to at least twelve percent
of all of the votes cast for the office of governor in the county
in the most recent quadrennial election preceding the filing of
(d) To be valid, the referendum petition is filed with the
proper election official after the effective date of the
constitutional amendment, statute, promulgated rule, ordinance or
other legislation in question.
(e) Within thirty days after the filing of a referendum
petition with the proper local, county or state election
official, the election official shall certify the petition if it
has been prepared, circulated, signed and filed in compliance
with applicable law.
(f) A referendum rejecting, in whole or in part, a revenue
increase to the general revenue fund or any other revenue fund
appropriated by the Legislature or any other elected or appointed
government body may not be effective until the fiscal year
following the year of the passage of any successful referendum
(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to
the contrary, the power of referendum may not be exercised in an
attempt to reject those portions of an act or ordinance which
appropriate public funds for the then-current fiscal year or to
call an election.
(h) A statute, constitutional amendment or any other
legislation, or portion thereof, suspended through the filing of
a proper referendum petition, takes effect on the date that it is
approved by the voters unless the approved measure provides otherwise. If the provisions of two or more measures approved by
the voters at the same election are in conflict, the provisions
of the measure receiving the highest number of affirmative votes
prevails unless one measure is by law subordinate to the other.
(i) A four-year moratorium is imposed upon the Legislature
or other governmental body from amending or repealing any statute
approved at a referendum election.
(j) The secretary of state shall propose rules for
promulgation pursuant to chapter twenty-nine-a of this code which
provide for procedures relating to the preparation, circulation
and filing of referendum petitions, to the verification of
signatures thereon, to the certification of the petitions, to
provide for the disclosure of contributions and expenditures
relating to referendum elections, and otherwise guarantee the
integrity of referendum elections and to the conduct of
referendum elections. The proposed rules shall provide that,
with those exceptions that are considered prudent, referendum
elections are to be held on regularly scheduled election days.
(k) Referendum elections involving regional government
jurisdictions or municipalities may be held in conjunction with
regularly scheduled elections involving state and county offices.
(l) This article may not be construed to impede or restrict
the right of the people of West Virginia to petition their
(m) This article may not be construed to preempt or to
repeal existing or future provisions of municipal charters which
reserve to municipal voters additional initiative and referendum
(n) This section is to be liberally construed.
(o) In no event may more than five referendum issues be
placed on the ballot at any one election.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to initiate a procedure
for the voters of this state to exercise their right to a
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.