Introduced Version Senate Bill 77 History

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Senate Bill No. 77

(By Senator Boley)


[Introduced February 9, 2005; referred to the Committee

on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]


A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §3-12-1, §3-12-2 and §3-12-3, all relating to initiative and referendum; definitions; and limitations.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §3-12-1, §3-12-2 and §3-12-3, all to read as follows:
§3-12-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "Voters' Initiative Act."
§3-12-2. Definitions.

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 issue.
(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 jurisdiction.
§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 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 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 applicable law.
(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 proposal.
(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 election days.
(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 government.
(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 referendum.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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