(a) The West Virginia railroad maintenance authority, heretofore created and redesignated the West Virginia state rail authority, is hereby continued. References in this code to the West Virginia railroad maintenance authority shall be understood and taken to mean the West Virginia state rail authority. Nothing in this article is intended to invalidate any action or obligation of the West Virginia railroad maintenance authority undertaken prior to the effective date of this article. The authority is a governmental instrumentality of the state and a body corporate. The exercise by the authority of the powers conferred by this article and the carrying out of its purposes and duties shall be deemed and held to be, and are hereby determined to be, essential governmental functions and for a public purpose.
(b) The authority shall consist of seven members. The secretary of the Department of Transportation shall be chairman: Provided, That the secretary may appoint a designee to act in his or her stead at meetings of the authority. The other six members shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term of six years. Of the members of the authority first appointed, two shall be appointed for a term ending on June 30, 1977, two shall be appointed for a term ending two years thereafter and two shall be appointed for a term ending four years thereafter. A person appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which his predecessor was appointed shall be appointed only for the remainder of such term. Each authority member shall serve until the appointment and qualification of his successor. No more than three of the appointed authority members shall at any one time belong to the same political party. Appointed authority members may be reappointed to serve additional terms.
(c) All members of the authority shall be citizens of the state. Each appointed member of the board, before entering upon his duties, shall comply with the requirements of article one, chapter six of this code and give bond in the sum of $25,000 in the manner provided in article two, chapter six of this code. The Governor may remove any authority member as provided in section four, article six, chapter six of this code.
(d) Annually the authority shall elect one of its members as vice chairman, and shall appoint a secretary-treasurer, who need not be a member of the authority. Four members of the authority shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of four members shall be necessary for any action taken by vote of the authority. No vacancy in the membership of the authority shall impair the rights of a quorum by such vote to exercise all the rights and perform all the duties of the authority. The person appointed as secretary-treasurer, including an authority member if he is so appointed, shall give bond in the sum of $50,000 in the manner provided in article two, chapter six of this code.
(e) The secretary of the Department of Transportation shall not receive any compensation for serving as the authority chairman. Each of the six appointed members of the authority shall receive the same compensation and expense reimbursement as is paid to members of the Legislature for their interim duties as recommended by the citizens legislative compensation commission and authorized by law for each day or substantial portion thereof engaged in the discharge of official duties. All such compensation and expenses incurred shall be payable solely from funds of the authority or from funds appropriated for such purpose by the Legislature and no liability or obligation shall be incurred by the authority beyond the extent to which moneys are available from funds of the authority or from such appropriations.
(f) There shall also be a director of the authority appointed by the authority, with the consent of the secretary.