Whenever there shall be filed with the commission any schedule stating a change in the rates or charges, or joint rates or charges, or stating a new individual or joint rate or charge or joint classification or any new individual or joint regulation or practice affecting any rate or charge, the commission shall have authority, either upon complaint or upon its own initiative without complaint, to enter upon a hearing concerning the propriety of such rate, charge, classification, regulation or practice; and, if the commission so orders, it may proceed without answer or other form of pleading by the interested parties, but upon reasonable notice, and pending such hearing and the decision thereon the commission, upon filing with such schedule and delivering to the motor carrier affected thereby a statement in writing of its reasons for such suspension, may suspend the operation of such schedule and defer the use of such rate, charge, classification, regulation or practice, but not for a longer period than one hundred and twenty days beyond the time when such rate, charge, classification, regulation or practice would otherwise go into effect; and after full hearing, whether completed before or after the rate, charge, classification, regulation, or practice goes into effect, the commission may make such order in reference to such rate, charge, classification, regulation or practice as would be proper in a proceeding initiated after the rate, charge, classification, regulation or practice had become effective: Provided, That if any such hearing cannot be conducted within the period of suspension, as above stated, the commission may in its discretion extend the time of suspension for a further period, not exceeding six months. At any hearing involving a rate sought to be increased or involving the change of any fare, charge, classification, regulation or practice, the burden of proof to show that the increased rate or proposed increased rate, or the proposed change of fare, charge, classification, regulation or practice, is just and reasonable, shall be upon the motor carrier making application for such change. When in any case pending before the commission all evidence shall have been taken, and the hearing completed, the commission shall, within three months, render a decision in such case.
The commission shall prescribe such rules and regulations as to the giving of notice of a change in rates as are reasonable and are deemed proper in the public interest.
(b) When a consolidation, merger, purchase, lease, operating contract, or acquisition of control is proposed under this section the carrier, or carriers, or person, seeking authority therefor shall present an application to the commission and, after hearing, if the commission deems a hearing necessary, if the commission finds that the transaction proposed will be consistent with the public interest, it shall enter such order as it may deem proper and as the circumstances may require, attaching thereto such conditions as it may deem proper, consenting to the entering into or doing of the things hereinabove provided without approving the terms and conditions thereof, and thereupon it shall be lawful to do the things provided for in such order.
(c) Every consolidation, merger, purchase, lease, operating contract, or acquisition of control, or other transaction referred to in this section made otherwise than as hereinabove provided, shall be void.
(b) The commission shall employ personnel as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and fix their respective salaries or compensation. The commission may designate employees as it deems necessary to take evidence at any hearing held or required by the provisions of this chapter. These employees are empowered to administer oaths in all parts of the state so far as the exercise of this power is properly incidental to the performance of their duties in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(c) The commission shall prescribe a schedule of fees to accompany (i) applications for certificates of convenience and necessity, (ii) applications for permits, and (iii) other filings and recordings of other papers with the commission. The commission shall prescribe a schedule of fees to be charged for (i) the certification of all records and papers (ii) the payment of witnesses and (iii) other costs necessary and incident to hearings before it or its employees. Sums collected in accordance with this subsection, except witness fees, are to be paid into the state treasury and credited to the public service commission motor carrier fund provided for in section six, article six of this chapter. Witness fees are to be paid to the persons entitled to them.
(d) The commission shall establish a system of accounts to be kept by motor carriers; or classify motor carriers and establish a system of accounts for each class. The commission shall prescribe the manner in which the accounts are to be kept. It may prescribe the form of accounts, records, and memoranda to be kept by the motor carriers, including the accounts, records, and memoranda for the movement of traffic, the receipts and expenditures of money, and any other forms, records and memoranda which in the judgment of the commission may be necessary to carry out any of the provisions of this chapter.
(e) The commission shall require persons subject to the provisions of this chapter to furnish any information in their possession or obtainable from their accounting or other records, respecting rates, charges, classifications or practices in conducting their business. The commission has the authority to inspect any books, papers or reports. Any statements required by this subsection are to be under oath when required by the commission. The form of all reports required under this chapter are to be prescribed by the commission.
(f) The commission as a whole or any of its members or designated employees, shall subpoena witnesses, take testimony and administer oaths to any witness in any proceeding or examination instituted before it or conducted by it with reference to any matter within its jurisdiction. In all hearings or proceedings before the commission or its designated employees, the evidence of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence may be required at any designated place of hearing within the state. In the case of disobedience to a subpoena or other process, the commission or any party to the proceedings before the commission may invoke the aid of any circuit court in the state in requiring the evidence and testimony of witnesses and the production of papers, books, and documents. The court, in the case of a refusal to obey the subpoena issued to any person or to any motor carrier subject to the provisions of this chapter, shall issue an order requiring the person or motor carrier to appear before the commission or its designated employees and produce all requested books and papers and give evidence relating to the matter in question. Any failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as contempt. A claim that testimony or evidence may tend to incriminate the person giving the testimony or evidence does not excuse the person from testifying, but the person may not be prosecuted for any offense concerning which he or she has been compelled to testify.
(g) The commission shall require common carriers by motor vehicle and contract carriers by motor vehicle subject to the provisions of this chapter either to procure insurance from a company authorized to write insurance in West Virginia, to qualify as a self-insurer, or to deposit security upon terms and conditions and for limits of liability as the commission shall determine to be necessary for the reasonable protection of the traveling, shipping, and general public against injury, loss, damage or default for which the carrier may be liable. It shall prescribe rules and regulations governing the filing of evidence of insurance and security with the commission. In fixing the amount of the insurance policy or policies, the qualifications as a self-insurer, or the deposit of security, the commission shall give due consideration to the character and amount of traffic, the value of the property transported, the number of persons affected, and the degree of danger involved in any motor carrier operation: Provided, That the amount set by the commission for for-hire vehicles, that haul nonhazardous property with a gross vehicle weight of ten thousand or more pounds, shall be at least seven hundred fifty thousand dollars.
(h) The commission shall cooperate with the federal government or any other commission or organized delegated authority to regulate interstate or foreign commerce by motor vehicles to ensure that the transportation of persons and property by motor vehicles in interstate and foreign commerce into and through the state of West Virginia may be regulated and the laws of the United States and the state of West Virginia enforced and administered cooperatively in the public interest.
(i) The commission shall make agreements on behalf of the state of West Virginia with any other state or states providing for reciprocal rights, privileges, and courtesies between the licensees or holders of certificates and permits of the state or states and the state of West Virginia. These agreements may include provisions regarding certificates and permits, fees, assessments, and uniform vehicle identification cards, and the transportation of either persons or property into or through the respective state or states and the state of West Virginia. All existing agreements between a state or states and the state of West Virginia for reciprocal rights, privileges, and courtesies may, provided constitutional and contractual rights are not violated, be declared void by the commission, and new agreements negotiated.
(j) The commission shall promulgate (i) safety rules applicable to motor vehicles subject to the provisions of this chapter, (ii) rules governing the qualifications and maximum hours of service of drivers and chauffeurs of common and contract carriers by motor vehicle of passengers and property subject to the provisions of this chapter and (iii) any other rules that the commission may deem proper to carry out the provisions and intent of this chapter.