H. B. 2845

          (By Delegates Armstead, Cowles, Faircloth, Rowan, Howell, Frich, Ellem, Anderson, Border, Hamilton and Cooper)

          [Introduced March 6, 2013; referred to the
          Committee on the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend and reenact §6-5-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to matters affecting the right to hold office; and the disqualification of persons convicted of treason, felony or bribery from holding public office.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
     That §6-5-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
§6-5-5. Disqualification by conviction of treason, felony or bribery.
(a) The Legislature finds that the holding of an elective office is a public trust and that the integrity and honesty of those elected to serve the citizens of West Virginia in an elective office at all levels is a paramount concern and is essential for the maintenance of the confidence of our citizens in the operation of an effective representative government. The State of West Virginia has a compelling interest in advancing and maintaining confidence in the integrity and honesty of those holding elective office and ensuring that the electoral process of the state promotes this goal.
__(1) Section 1, Article IV of the Constitution of West Virginia clearly reflects the intent of the framers to ensure that those who demonstrate a total disregard for the laws of our state by treasonous or felonious conduct or bribery during an election forfeit their rights to participate as a voter in the electoral process.
__(2) The interest of the State of West Virginia in ensuring that those convicted of treason, felony or bribery in an election are not elevated to positions of trust and confidence as elected officials is even more crucial and compelling than the interest of the state in ensuring that those who engage in that conduct not be permitted to vote.______
__(b) In order to advance the compelling state interest of promoting and strengthening the faith and confidence of the people of this state in their elected officials by preventing those who have demonstrated an utter disregard for the law from seeking and obtaining positions of trust as elected officials,
no person convicted of treason, felony or bribery in any election, before any court in or out of this state, shall, while such unless the conviction remains unreversed, be has been either overturned or the person has been pardoned of the offense, is eligible to be elected or appointed to or to serve in any office under the laws of this state; and, if any person, while holding such the office, be is so convicted, the office shall be thereby vacated.

  NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to ensure that persons convicted of felony, treason and bribery in an election are not allowed to run for any elective office, nor hold any appointive office.

  Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.