(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares:
(1) That modern, well-constructed and properly maintained roads and highways are of great importance to the economic and industrial growth and development and well-being of the state and to the health, education, welfare and prosperity of its citizens;
(2) That due to budgetary and economic constraints, it is frequently not feasible, desirable nor prudent to meet the costs of construction and maintenance of a modern highways system sufficient to meet current or future needs of the state, of its citizens and of its industrial and commercial communities through the utilization of current revenues, increased or expanded taxation or general obligation bonds;
(3) That there is opinion that alternative methods of financing the construction and maintenance of an efficient and modern road and highway system could be desirable; that these alternative methods may include, but not necessarily be limited to, the utilization of tolls to be paid by the users of such highways and other methods of financing or a combination of various methods, including tolls; and
(4) That the purpose of this article is to create a commission, as hereinafter constituted and appointed, to study various and alternative methods of financing road and highway construction and maintenance, with particular emphasis upon the feasibility and desirability of adopting a system of tolls to be paid by the users of such roads and highways either alone or in combination with other methods of financing.
(b) The Legislature further declares that it recognizes that the provisions of section 1, article V of the Constitution of West virginia prohibit any person from exercising the powers of more than one branch or department of government at the same time; however, it is the express purpose, intent and finding of the Legislature that those members of the commission who are members of the Legislature are acting as such while serving on the commission and in the furtherance of the Legislature's inherent right and power to investigate and inquire into and report on those matters which are legimately within its powers, and that since the commission's role and duties are investigative and reportive in nature, the service upon the commission by its legislative members is not violative of nor inimical to the constitutional mandate with respect to the separation of governmental powers.
The West Virginia toll road study commission is hereby created. The commission shall consist of eleven members, who are designated or to be appointed as follows:
(a) The West Virginia commissioner of highways shall serve as a voting member of the commission by virtue of that person's office and shall serve as chairman of the commission;
(b) The chairman of the West Virginia turnpike commission shall serve as a voting member of the commission by virtue of that person's office;
(c) Three members shall be appointed by the governor who shall be representative private citizens and who shall have been residents of this state for a period of at least one year immediately next preceding such persons' appointment no more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party; and
(d) Three members of the commission shall be members of the Senate, to be appointed by the president thereof; no more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party; and
(e) Three members of the commission shall be members of the House of Delegates, to be appointed by the speaker thereof; no more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party.
(a) Members of the commission shall be reimbursed for their reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses actually incurred in connection with the performance of their duties as members of the commission, including, but not limited to, their attendance at meetings thereof.
(b) Except as to those members of the commission who are members of the Legislature, the reimbursement of expenses provided for in subsection (a) of this section shall be paid from legislative appropriations to the state department of highways, account number 6700, line item number 7, "Toll Road Examination."
(c) As to those members of the commission who are members of the Legislature, the reimbursement of expenses provided for in subsection (a) of this section shall be paid from legislative appropriations to the joint committee on government and finance, under "Account No. 103 - Joint Expenses."
(d) Members of the commission shall receive no other compensation for their services on or with the commission other than the reimbursement of expenses as provided in this section.
(e) All other expenses and costs incurred by the commission, which are not otherwise provided for in this section shall be paid from legislative appropriations to the state department of highways, account number 6700, line item number 7, "Toll Road Examination."
The commission shall have the following powers, duties and responsibilities:
(a) To conduct a thorough and comprehensive study into the various ways and means of financing the construction and maintenance of a modern and efficient system of roads and highways which would be in addition to or in augmentation of or in conjunction with already existing roads and highways, with particular, but not exclusive, emphasis upon the feasibility, desirability and prudence of utilizing the imposition of tolls upon the users of such roads and highways, either alone or together with other means and methods of financing the construction and maintenance of the same;
(b) Special attention shall be given to planning, financing and construction of a modern highway connecting the Appalachian Corridor "G" highway at Chapmanville with Interstate Highway 64 at Huntington; and the planning, financing, and construction of Appalachian Corridor "H";
(c) To file an interim report as to its progress and tentative conclusions with the governor, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Delegates not later than the second Wednesday in January, in the year one thousand nine hundred eighty-six;
(d) To file its final report with respect to its findings and conclusions, together with any legislation it deems appropriate to recommend and as it deems necessary to carry its findings and conclusions into effect with the governor, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Delegates not later than the second Wednesday in January in the year one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight;
(e) To employ such legal, technical, investigative, clerical, stenographic, advisory and other personnel as it deems necessary and needful and to fix the reasonable compensation of such persons as may be so employed;
(f) To request such information and data from any state officer or agency or from any political subdivision of the state as the commission may deem necessary to assist it in the performance of its duties and it shall be the duty of all such officers and agencies to cooperate with and assist the commission in and about the completion of its studies and deliberations;
(g) To confer with representative citizens and groups of the private, business and industrial sectors with respect to all matters deemed relevant to the study program of the commission; and
(h) To perform every other act necessary or desirable to carry out any of the other powers, duties or responsibilities enumerated in this article.
The commission shall meet at such times and places as its chairman shall deem to be proper and expedient. Such meetings shall be coordinated with and be in conjunction with the monthly meeting of the joint committee on government and finance insofar as the same may be practicable. Nothing herein shall preclude the commission from meeting with such frequency or at such times and places as it may determine. The presence of no less than six members of the commission shall constitute a quorum for the conducting of any business by the commission.
(a) The provisions of this article shall be liberally construed in order to permit the commission sufficient latitude for the orderly completion of its studies and duties.
(b) The commission shall cease its existence on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight.