The joint committee on government and finance shall study and survey matters of government, finance and claims against the state as authorized by section three, article three, chapter four. In addition, the joint committee may make studies it was directed to make by concurrent resolutions heretofore adopted by the Legislature and continued for additional study by the joint committee by concurrent resolutions adopted by the Legislature. The joint committee may make these studies by creation of subcommittees.
The joint committee may commission studies to be made jointly by appropriate standing committees of each house of the Legislature between regular sessions of the Legislature.
(1) The commission on special investigations provided for in article five, chapter four of this code;
(2) The court of claims provided for in article two and crime victims compensation provided for in article two-a, chapter fourteen of this code;
(3) The legislative auditor provided for in article two, chapter four of this code;
(4) The legislative rule-making review committee provided for in article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code;
(5) The legislative reference library provided for in section three of this article;
(6) The legislative automated systems division;
(7) Legislative services;
(8) Public information; and
(9) Joint services provided by one or more of the joint agencies set forth in this subsection. The following joint services are included:
(A) Bill drafting;
(B) Budget analysis;
(D) Financial, payroll, personnel and purchasing for joint agencies and personnel;
(E) Fiscal analysis;
(F) Post audits, full performance evaluations and preliminary performance reviews;
(G) Research; and
(H) Joint services to other joint legislative committees created and authorized by this code, to joint standing committees of the Senate and House of Delegates, to standing committees of the Senate and House of Delegates and to legislative interim committees.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, the joint committee on government and finance has the authority to reorganize and restructure the joint legislative agencies, personnel and services as provided in subsection (a) of this section for the purposes of improving their efficiency and the service they provide to the Legislature and to improve the management thereof by the joint committee. To accomplish these purposes, the joint committee may create divisions as it determines necessary and transfer and assign the joint agencies, personnel and services to the divisions. The divisions, joint agencies, personnel and services shall operate under the direction and policies of the joint committee: Provided, That nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the joint committee to alter or redefine the powers, duties and responsibilities vested in the commission on special investigations pursuant to article five of this chapter.
In addition to its regular and special meetings, the committee, or any employee duly authorized by the committee, is empowered to hold public hearings in furtherance of the purposes authorized by this article, at such times and places within the state as may be desirable, and either cochairman or any member of the committee shall have the power to administer oaths to persons testifying at such hearings or meetings.
By subpoena, issued over the signature of either cochairman of the committee and served in the manner provided by law, the committee may summon and compel the attendance of witnesses and their examination under oath and the production of all books, papers, documents and records necessary or convenient to be examined and used by the committee in the performance of its duties. If any witness subpoenaed to appear at any hearing or meeting shall refuse to appear or to answer inquiries there propounded, or shall fail or refuse to produce books, papers, documents or records within his or her control when the same are demanded, the committee in its discretion may enforce obedience to its subpoena by attachment, fine or imprisonment, as provided in section five, article one of this chapter; or it may report the facts to the circuit court of Kanawha County or any other court of competent jurisdiction and such court shall compel obedience to the subpoena as though such subpoena had been issued by such court in the first instance.
Witnesses subpoenaed to attend such hearings or meetings, except officers or employees of the state, shall be allowed the same mileage and per diem as is allowed witnesses before any petit jury in this state.
(b) The joint committee on government and finance shall, prior to the twelfth day of January, two thousand, consider how best to provide, through the internet or other means, free public-access to appropriate information maintained in the Legislature's computer databases. The committee shall consider providing free public access through the internet, or other appropriate means, to bill status information, the text of pending bills, the daily journals of the House of Delegates and the Senate, the West Virginia code, and any other information determined appropriate by the committee, all as maintained by the Legislature in its computer databases. In determining what information to which to provide free access, the committee shall consider how the access may affect the integrity, security and functionality of the Legislature's computer system and its primary use of supporting its legislative functions.
(c) No part of the information contained in the Legislature's computer system databases in its magnetic or electronic form is a public record as that term is defined in section two, article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code. Notwithstanding any provisions of section three, article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code to the contrary, the Legislature may not be required or compelled to allow access to all or a portion of its databases for inspection and copying and may not be required to make available copies of all or a portion of its databases on magnetic or electronic media.