Senate Bill No. 44
(By Senator Boley)
[Introduced January 8, 2003; referred to the Committee on the
Judiciary and then to the committee on 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 as follows:
ARTICLE 12. VOTERS' INITIATIVE.
§3-12-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "Voters' Initiative Act."
As used in this article:
(a) "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
(b) "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) "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) "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
§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 the 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 the petition.
(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
(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 that
provide for procedures relating to preparation, circulation and
filing of referendum petitions; verification of petition
signatures; certification of the petitions; and disclosure of
contributions and expenditures relating to referendum elections;
and that otherwise guarantee the integrity of referendum elections
and regulate 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
(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 powers.
(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 rights of initiative and
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.