Commission on Uniform State Laws Executive Summary

Created under the 1931 Acts of the Legislature, the Commission on Uniform State Laws works to promote uniformity in state laws. The West Virginia Commission consists of three members who meet with Commissioners from all 50 states including the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to debate proposed uniform state laws. West Virginia has earned a special prominence on the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws with the selection of Commissioner John McClaugherty as Chairman of the Executive Committee for a two-year term which began August 1, 1997. Following this two year term, Chairman McClaugherty will become President of the National Conference. This national leadership of a West Virginia Commissioner will likely facilitate greater visibility of the work of the West Virginia Commission on Uniform State Laws, which the Legislative Auditor recommends. This Preliminary Performance Review presents two issues regarding the Commission:

ISSUE AREA 1: The Commission on Uniform State Laws Performs an Essential Function for the State but Should Become More Visible and Increase Public Input.

The West Virginia Commission is a member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. By participating in the National Conference, West Virginia is able to impact laws which have an effect on the various states. The cost of the Commission has never exceeded $20,000 per year and the uncompensated contribution of the Commissioners would far exceed the expenses provided.
The Conference has developed many uniform acts which resulted in uniform laws throughout the United States including the Uniform Commercial Code. Although the uniform laws proposed by the Commission are debated by the interim Commission on Interstate Cooperation (COIC), the judiciary committees, and the Legislature as a whole, because of the importance of uniform laws to public policy in West Virginia the Commission should increase public visibility and input prior to its National meeting.
The Commission has obtained input on specific proposals in many instances (e.g. input regarding revisions to Articles 1, 2A and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code from a representative of Mountain State Justice). Given the impact of the work of the Commission on the people of West Virginia, it should become more visible, soliciting input from a wide variety of interested parties and expanding its annual report to include information on acts under consideration by the National Conference and acts recommended to the Commission On Interstate Cooperation.
The primary task of the Commission is to discern the "desirability" and "practicability" of proposed uniform state laws as set forth in §29-1A-4. This alone is compelling evidence for a more visible commission and widespread input. Some organizations of attorneys in the state were not even aware of the work of the Commission. The general public, especially affected parties, are important to the work of the Commission. The task of increasing public input may be done by public notices, continued utilization of the Internet, The State Bar, contacts with such organizations as the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, The Mountain State Bar, The Defense Trial Counsel, The West Virginia Bar Association and by expanding the annual report to include information on acts under consideration.

Issue Area 2: The Commission did not Issue an Annual Report for 1996, But has Since filed the Report.

In order for the Commission to meet the requirements of §29-1A-4 an annual report must be filed each year. The Legislative Auditor could find no record of this report for 1996. The Commission has a record of filing these reports for more than seventeen years; this oversight has been corrected.