(a) The Legislature hereby finds that the public service commission's present physical facilities impede the efficient operation of the commission in that many offices are severely overcrowded, several divisions are physically isolated from the main offices of the commission at the capitol building, and only one hearing room is available internally. The Legislature further finds that pursuant to section twenty, article one, chapter four of the code of West Virginia, it has assigned and set aside for the exclusive use of the Legislature all of the space on the second floor of the east wing of the capitol building, which location is presently occupied by the public service commission.
The Legislature further adopts the recommendation presented to the subcommittee on the public service commission of the joint committee on government and finance in a final report dated February, one thousand nine hundred seventy-nine and entitled "A Plan for Regulatory Reform and Management Improvement" that the public service commission should be authorized to buy or lease suitable office, hearing and other facilities in the Charleston area in order to consolidate its operations, and that existing surplus funds should be used to pay the one-time costs incurred in relocation.
(b) Accordingly, the Legislature hereby authorizes and directs the public service commission:
(1) To contract to acquire and to acquire, in the name of the commission or of the state, a suitable site in or near the seat of government for a public service commission headquarters building that will consolidate all of its operations, related facilities and grounds, including real property, rights and easements necessary for this purpose, or to use any suitable site which may be owned by the state and available and designated for this purpose and to construct a public service commission headquarters building on such site and equip and furnish said building.
(2) To contract to acquire and to acquire and hold, in the name of the commission or of the state, services, materials, furnishings and equipment required in connection with the location, design, construction, furnishing and equipping of the public service commission building.
(3) To employ architects to prepare plans for the public service commission headquarters building, to assist and advise the architects in the preparation of those plans and to approve on behalf of the state all plans for the public service commission headquarters building.
(4) To make all contracts and execute all instruments necessary or convenient to effectuate the intent of, and to exercise the powers granted to it by the provisions of this article.
(5) To supervise generally the location, construction, furnishing and equipping of the public service commission headquarters building.
The authority granted to the public service commission in section one is made notwithstanding other provisions of law relating to the authority of the state of West Virginia, or its agencies, departments, boards and commissions, to contract to acquire and to acquire real property and to hold, improve and dispose of same, including, but not limited to, article five, chapter one, article six, chapter five, and section fifteen, article one, chapter twenty of this code: Provided, That nothing in this article shall be construed to grant to the public service commission the power of eminent domain.
Notwithstanding the provisions of section eleven, article six, chapter five of this code, the commission shall properly maintain, repair, manage, operate and control the public service commission headquarters building, and may make and enter into all contracts or agreements necessary and incidental for the performance of its duties and the execution of its powers under this article.
(b) The public service commission may contract to acquire, lease, rent, purchase, own, hold, construct, equip, maintain, operate, sell, encumber and assign rights of any property, real or personal, contiguous with its existing property at 201 Brooks street in Charleston, West Virginia, consistent with the objectives of the commission as set forth in this chapter.
(c) The public service commission may enter into contracts, agreements or other undertakings with other appropriate entities concerning the financing and use of property acquisitions.
(d) The public service commission may pay for property acquisitions and related activities from excess funds obtained from the commission's assessments upon utility gross revenue and property as provided for in section six, article three of this chapter. Furthermore, the commission may receive funds from other entities through the use and management of its properties and use those funds for the payment of the property acquisitions. Any contracts, agreements or other undertakings relating to property acquisitions pursuant to provisions of this section shall be entered into prior to the thirty-first day of December, two thousand four.
(e) Expenditures for any purpose set forth in this section may be made only pursuant to legislative appropriation expressly authorizing by line item expenditure for the specific purpose. Notwithstanding any provision of section eighteen, article two, chapter five-a of this code to the contrary, no increase in the amount of the appropriation may be authorized.