Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia, in and through the provisions of this Constitution, reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God and seek diligently to promote, preserve and perpetuate good government in the state of West Virginia for the common welfare, freedom and security of ourselves and our posterity.
1-1. Relations to the government of the United States.
The state of West Virginia is, and shall remain, one of the United States of America. The constitution of the United States of America, and the laws and treaties made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land.
1-2. Internal government and police.
The government of the United States is a government of enumerated powers, and all powers not delegated to it, nor inhibited to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people thereof. Among the powers so reserved to the states is the exclusive regulation of their own internal government and police; and it is the high and solemn duty of the several departments of government, created by this constitution, to guard and protect the people of this state from all encroachments upon the rights so reserved.
1-3. Continuity of constitutional operation.
The provisions of the constitution of the United States, and of this state, are operative alike in a period of war as in time of peace, and any departure therefrom, or violation thereof, under the plea of necessity, or any other plea, is subversive of good government, and tends to anarchy and despotism.
1-4. Representatives to Congress.
For the election of representatives to Congress, the state shall be divided into districts, corresponding in number with the representatives to which it may be entitled; which districts shall be formed of contiguous counties, and be compact. Each district shall contain, as nearly as may be, an equal number of population, to be determined according to the rule prescribed in the constitution of the United States.
2-1. The state.
The territory of the following counties, formerly parts of the commonwealth of Virginia, shall constitute and form the state of West Virginia, viz:
The counties of Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Monongalia, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming. The state of West Virginia includes the bed, bank and shores of the Ohio River, and so much of the Big Sandy River as was formerly included in the commonwealth of Virginia; and all territorial rights and property in, and jurisdiction over, the same, heretofore reserved by, and vested in, the commonwealth of Virginia, are vested in and shall hereafter be exercised by the state of West Virginia. And such parts of the said beds, banks and shores as lie opposite, and adjoining the several counties of this state, shall form parts of said several counties respectively.
2-2. Powers of government in citizens.
The powers of government reside in all the citizens of the state, and can be rightfully exercised only in accordance with their will and appointment.
2-3. Requisites of citizenship.
All persons residing in this state, born, or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, shall be citizens of this state.
2-4. Equal representation.
Every citizen shall be entitled to equal representation in the government, and, in all apportionments of representation, equality of numbers of those entitled thereto, shall as far as practicable, be preserved.
2-5. Provisions regarding property.
No distinction shall be made between resident aliens and citizens, as to the acquisition, tenure, disposition or descent of property.
2-6. Treason, what constitutes -- Penalty.
Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against it, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. Treason shall be punished according to the character of the acts committed, by the infliction of one, or more, of the penalties of death, imprisonment or fine, as may be prescribed by law.
2-7. "Montani Semper Liberi" -- State seal.
The present seal of the state, with its motto, "Montani Semper Liberi," shall be the great seal of the state of West Virginia, and shall be kept by the secretary of state, to be used by him officially, as directed by law.
2-8. Writs, commissions, official bonds -- Indictments.
Writs, grants and commissions, issued under the authority of this state, shall run in the name of, and official bonds shall be made payable to the state of West Virginia. Indictments shall conclude, "Against the peace and dignity of the state."
3-1. Bill of rights.
All men are, by nature, equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity, namely: The enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
3-2. Magistrates servants of people.
All power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. Magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.
3-3. Rights reserved to people.
Government is instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community. Of all its various forms that is the best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community has an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.
3-4. Writ of habeas corpus.
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended. No person shall be held to answer for treason, felony or other crime, not cognizable by a justice, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of a contract, shall be passed.
3-5. Excessive bail not required.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted. Penalties shall be proportioned to the character and degree of the offence. No person shall be transported out of, or forced to leave the state for any offence committed within the same; nor shall any person, in any criminal case, be compelled to be a witness against himself, or be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty for the same offence.
3-6. Unreasonable searches and seizures prohibited.
The rights of the citizens to be secure in their houses, persons, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. No warrant shall issue except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized.
3-7. Freedom of speech and press guaranteed.
No law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, shall be passed; but the Legislature may, by suitable penalties, restrain the publication or sale of obscene books, papers, or pictures, and provide for the punishment of libel, and defamation of character, and for the recovery, in civil actions, by the aggrieved party, of suitable damages for such libel, or defamation.
3-8. Relating to civil suits for libel.
In prosecutions and civil suits for libel, the truth may be given in evidence; and if it shall appear to the jury, that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, the verdict shall be for the defendant.
3-9. Private property, how taken.
Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use, without just compensation; nor shall the same be taken by any company, incorporated for the purposes of internal improvement, until just compensation shall have been paid, or secured to be paid, to the owner; and when private property shall be taken, or damaged for public use, or for the use of such corporation, the compensation to the owner shall be ascertained in such manner as may be prescribed by general law: Provided, That when required by either of the parties, such compensation shall be ascertained by an impartial jury of twelve freeholders.
3-10. Safeguards for life, liberty and property.
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and the judgment of his peers.
3-11. Political tests condemned.
Political tests, requiring persons, as a prerequisite to the enjoyment of their civil and political rights, to purge themselves by their own oaths, of past alleged offences, are repugnant to the principles of free government, and are cruel and oppressive. No religious or political test oath shall be required as a prerequisite or qualification to vote, serve as a juror, sue, plead, appeal, or pursue any profession or employment. Nor shall any person be deprived by law, of any right, or privilege, because of any act done prior to the passage of such law.
3-12. Military subordinate to civil power.
Standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power; and no citizen, unless engaged in the military service of the state, shall be tried or punished by any military court, for any offence that is cognizable by the civil courts of the state. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without consent of the owner; nor in time of war, except in the manner to be prescribed by law.
3-13. Right of jury trial.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy exceeds twenty dollars exclusive of interest and costs, the right of trial by jury, if required by either party, shall be preserved; and in such suit in a court of limited jurisdiction a jury shall consist of six persons. No fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any case than according to the rule of court or law.
3-14. Trials of crimes -- Provisions in interest of accused.
Trials of crimes, and of misdemeanors, unless herein otherwise provided, shall be by a jury of twelve men, public, without unreasonable delay, and in the county where the alleged offence was committed, unless upon petition of the accused, and for good cause shown, it is removed to some other county. In all such trials, the accused shall be fully and plainly informed of the character and cause of the accusation, and be confronted with the witnesses against him, and shall have the assistance of counsel, and a reasonable time to prepare for his defence; and there shall be awarded to him compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.
3-15. Religious freedom guaranteed.
No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever; nor shall any man be enforced, restrained, molested or burthened, in his body or goods, or otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument, to maintain their opinions in matters of religion; and the same shall, in nowise, affect, diminish or enlarge their civil capacities; and the Legislature shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this state, to levy on themselves, or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house for public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry, but it shall be left free for every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support, such private contracts as he shall please.
3-15a. Voluntary contemplation, meditation or prayer in schools.
Public schools shall provide a designated brief time at the beginning of each school day for any student desiring to exercise their right to personal and private contemplation, meditation or prayer. No student of a public school may be denied the right to personal and private contemplation, meditation or prayer nor shall any student be required or encouraged to engage in any given contemplation, meditation or prayer as a part of the school curriculum.
3-16. Right of public assembly held inviolate.
The right of the people to assemble in a peaceable manner, to consult for the common good, to instruct their representatives, or to apply for redress of grievances, shall be held inviolate.
3-17. Courts open to all -- Justice administered speedily.
The courts of this state shall be open, and every person, for an injury done to him, in his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law; and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.
3-18. Conviction not to work corruption of blood or forfeiture.
No conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.
3-19. Hereditary emoluments, etc., provided against.
No hereditary emoluments, honors or privileges shall ever be granted or conferred in this state.
3-20. Preservation of free government.
Free government and the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people only by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
3-21. Jury service for women.
Regardless of sex all persons, who are otherwise qualified, shall be eligible to serve as petit jurors, in both civil and criminal cases, as grand jurors and as coroner's jurors.
3-22. Right to keep and bear arms.
A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use.
4-1. Election and officers.
The citizens of the state shall be entitled to vote at all elections held within the counties in which they respectively reside; but no person who is a minor, or who has been declared mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction, or who is under conviction of treason, felony or bribery in an election, or who has not been a resident of the state and of the county in which he offers to vote, for thirty days next preceding such offer, shall be permitted to vote while such disability continues; but no person in the military, naval or marine service of the United States shall be deemed a resident of this state by reason of being stationed therein.
4-2. Mode of voting by ballot.
In all elections by the people, the mode of voting shall be by ballot; but the voter shall be left free to vote by either open, sealed or secret ballot, as he may elect.
4-3. Voter not subject to arrest on civil process.
No voter, during the continuance of an election at which he is entitled to vote, or during the time necessary and convenient for going to and returning from the same, shall be subject to arrest upon civil process, or be compelled to attend any court, or judicial proceeding, as suitor, juror or witness; or to work upon the public roads; or, except in time of war or public danger, to render military service.
4-4. Persons entitled to hold office -- Age requirements.
No person, except citizens entitled to vote, shall be elected or appointed to any state, county or municipal office; but the governor and judges must have attained the age of thirty, and the attorney general and senators the age of twenty-five years, at the beginning of their respective terms of service; and must have been citizens of the state for five years next preceding their election or appointment, or be citizens at the time this constitution goes into operation.
4-5. Oath or affirmation to support the constitution.
Every person elected or appointed to any office, before proceeding to exercise the authority, or discharge the duties thereof, shall make oath or affirmation that he will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that he will faithfully discharge the duties of his said office to the best of his skill and judgment; and no other oath, declaration, or test shall be required as a qualification, unless herein otherwise provided.
4-6. Provisions for removal of officials.
All officers elected or appointed under this constitution, may, unless in cases herein otherwise provided for, be removed from office for official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty, or gross immorality, in such manner as may be prescribed by general laws, and unless so removed they shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices until their successors are elected, or appointed and qualified.
4-7. General elections, when held -- Terms of officials.
The general elections of state and county officers, and of members of the Legislature, shall be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, until otherwise provided by law. The terms of such officers, not elected, or appointed to fill a vacancy, shall, unless herein otherwise provided, begin on the first day of January; and of the members of the Legislature, on the first day of December next succeeding their election. Elections to fill vacancies, shall be for the unexpired term. When vacancies occur prior to any general election, they shall be filled by appointments, in such manner as may be prescribed herein, or by general law, which appointments shall expire at such time after the next general election as the person so elected to fill such vacancy shall be qualified.
4-8. Further provisions regarding state's officers and agents.
The Legislature, in cases not provided for in this constitution, shall prescribe, by general laws, the terms of office, powers, duties and compensation of all public officers and agents, and the manner in which they shall be elected, appointed and removed.
4-9. Impeachment of officials.
Any officer of the state may be impeached for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor. The House of Delegates shall have the sole power of impeachment. The Senate shall have the sole power to try impeachments and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members elected thereto. When sitting as a court of impeachment, the president of the supreme court of appeals, or, if from any cause it be improper for him to act, then any other judge of that court, to be designated by it, shall preside; and the senators shall be on oath or affirmation, to do justice according to law and evidence. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit, under the state; but the party convicted shall be liable to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law. The Senate may sit during the recess of the Legislature for the trial of impeachments.
4-10. Fighting of duels prohibited.
Any citizen of this state, who shall, after the adoption of this constitution, either in or out of the state, fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge so to do, or who shall act as a second or knowingly aid or assist in such duel, shall, ever thereafter, be incapable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in this state.
4-11. Safeguards for ballots.
The Legislature shall prescribe the manner of conducting and making returns of elections, and of determining contested elections; and shall pass such laws as may be necessary and proper to prevent intimidation, disorder or violence at the polls, and corruption or fraud in voting, counting the vote, ascertaining or declaring the result, or fraud in any manner upon the ballot.
4-12. Registration laws provided for.
The Legislature shall enact proper laws for the registration of all qualified voters in this state.
5-1. Division of powers.
The legislative, executive and judicial departments shall be separate and distinct, so that neither shall exercise the powers properly belonging to either of the others; nor shall any person exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time, except that justices of the peace shall be eligible to the Legislature.
6-1. The Legislature.
The legislative power shall be vested in a Senate and House of Delegates. The style of their acts shall be, "Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia."
6-2. Composition of Senate and House of Delegates.
The Senate shall be composed of twenty-four, and the House of Delegates of sixty-five members, subject to be increased according to the provisions hereinafter contained.
6-3. Senators and delegates -- Terms of office.
Senators shall be elected for the term of four years, and delegates for the term of two years. The senators first elected, shall divide themselves into two classes, one senator from every district being assigned to each class; and of these classes, the first to be designated by lot in such manner as the Senate may determine, shall hold their seats for two years and the second for four years, so that after the first election, one half of the senators shall be elected biennially.
6-4. Division of state into senatorial districts.
For the election of senators, the state shall be divided into twelve senatorial districts, which number shall not be diminished, but may be increased as hereinafter provided. Every district shall elect two senators, but, where the district is composed of more than one county, both shall not be chosen from the same county. The districts shall be compact, formed of contiguous territory, bounded by county lines, and, as nearly as practicable, equal in population, to be ascertained by the census of the United States. After every such census, the Legislature shall alter the senatorial districts, so far as may be necessary to make them conform to the foregoing provision.
6-5. Senatorial districts designated.
Until the senatorial districts shall be altered by the Legislature as herein prescribed, the counties of Hancock, Brooke and Ohio, shall constitute the first senatorial district; Marshall, Wetzel and Marion, the second; Ritchie, Doddridge, Harrison, Gilmer and Calhoun, the third; Tyler, Pleasants, Wood and Wirt, the fourth; Jackson, Mason, Putnam and Roane, the fifth; Kanawha, Clay, Nicholas, Braxton and Webster, the sixth; Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Boone, Logan, Wyoming, McDowell and Mercer, the seventh; Monroe, Greenbrier, Summers, Pocahontas, Fayette and Raleigh, the eighth; Lewis, Randolph, Upshur, Barbour, Taylor and Tucker, the ninth; Preston and Monongalia, the tenth; Hampshire, Mineral, Hardy, Grant and Pendleton, the eleventh; Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson, the twelfth.
6-6. Provision for delegate representation.
For the election of delegates, every county containing a population of less than three fifths of the ratio of representation for the House of Delegates, shall, at each apportionment, be attached to some contiguous county or counties, to form a delegate district.
6-7. After census, delegate apportionment.
After every census the delegates shall be apportioned as follows: The ratio of representation for the House of Delegates shall be ascertained by dividing the whole population of the state by the number of which the House is to consist and rejecting the fraction of a unit, if any, resulting from such division. Dividing the population of every delegate district, and of every county not included in a delegate district, by the ratio thus ascertained, there shall be assigned to each a number of delegates equal to the quotient obtained by this division, excluding the fractional remainder. The additional delegates necessary to make up the number of which the House is to consist, shall then be assigned to those delegate districts, and counties not included in a delegate district, which would otherwise have the largest fractions unrepresented; but every delegate district and county not included in a delegate district, shall be entitled to at least one delegate.
6-8. Designation of delegate districts.
Until a new apportionment shall be declared, the counties of Pleasants and Wood shall form the first delegate district, and elect three delegates; Ritchie and Calhoun, the second, and elect two delegates; Barbour, Harrison and Taylor, the third, and elect one delegate; Randolph and Tucker, the fourth, and elect one delegate; Nicholas, Clay and Webster, the fifth, and elect one delegate; McDowell and Wyoming, the sixth, and elect one delegate.
6-9. Further apportionments.
Until a new apportionment shall be declared, the apportionment of delegates to the counties not included in delegate districts, and to Barbour, Harrison and Taylor counties, embraced in such district, shall be as follows:
To Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Doddridge, Fayette, Hampshire, Hancock, Jackson, Lewis, Logan, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, Mineral, Morgan, Grant, Hardy, Lincoln, Pendleton, Putnam, Roane, Gilmer, Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Wetzel, Wirt, Pocahontas, Summers and Raleigh counties, one delegate each.
To Berkeley, Harrison, Jefferson, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Monongalia and Preston counties, two delegates each.
To Kanawha county, three delegates.
To Ohio county, four delegates.
6-10. Arrangement of senatorial and delegate districts.
The arrangement of the senatorial and delegate districts, and apportionment of delegates, shall hereafter be declared by law, as soon as possible after each succeeding census, taken by authority of the United States. When so declared they shall apply to the first general election for members of the Legislature, to be thereafter held, and shall continue in force unchanged, until such districts shall be altered, and delegates apportioned, under the succeeding census.
6-11. Additional territory may be admitted into state.
Additional territory may be admitted into, and become part of this state, with the consent of the Legislature and a majority of the qualified voters of the state, voting on the question. And in such case provision shall be made by law for the representation thereof in the Senate and House of Delegates, in conformity with the principles set forth in this constitution. And the number of members of which each house of the Legislature is to consist, shall thereafter be increased by the representation assigned to such additional territory.
6-12. Senators and delegates required to be residents of districts.
No person shall be a senator or delegate who has not for one year next preceding his election, been a resident within the district or county from which he is elected; and if a senator or delegate remove from the district or county for which he was elected, his seat shall be thereby vacated.
6-13. Eligibility to seat in Legislature.
No person holding any other lucrative office or employment under this state, the United States, or any foreign government; no member of Congress; and no person who is sheriff, constable, or clerk of any court of record, shall be eligible to a seat in the Legislature.
6-14. Bribery conviction forfeits eligibility.
No person who has been, or hereafter shall be convicted of bribery, perjury, or other infamous crimes, shall be eligible to a seat in the Legislature. No person who may have collected or been entrusted with public money, whether state, county, township, district, or other municipal organization, shall be eligible to the Legislature, or to any office of honor, trust, or profit in this state, until he shall have duly accounted for and paid over such money according to law.
6-15. Senators and delegates not to hold civil office for profit.
No senator or delegate, during the term for which he shall have been elected, shall be elected or appointed to any civil office of profit under this state, which has been created, or the emoluments of which have been increased during such term, except offices to be filled by election by the people. Nor shall any member of the Legislature be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state, or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the term for which he shall have been elected.
6-16. Oath of senators and delegates.
Members of the Legislature, before they enter upon their duties, shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, and faithfully discharge the duties of Senator (or Delegate) according to the best of my ability"; and they shall also take this further oath, to wit: "I will not accept or receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, from any corporation, company, or person for any vote or influence I may give or withhold, as Senator (or Delegate) on any bill, resolution or appropriation, or for any act I may do or perform as Senator (or Delegate)." These oaths shall be administered in the hall of the house to which the member is elected, by a judge of the supreme court of appeals, or of a circuit court, or by any other person authorized by law to administer an oath; and the secretary of state shall record and file said oaths subscribed by each member; and no other oath or declaration shall be required as a qualification. Any member who shall refuse to take the oath herein prescribed, shall forfeit his seat; and any member who shall be convicted of having violated the oath last above required to be taken, shall forfeit his seat and be disqualified thereafter from holding any office of profit or trust in this state.
6-17. Members of Legislature privileged from civil arrest.
Members of the Legislature shall, in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during the session, and for ten days before and after the same; and for words spoken in debate, or any report, motion or proposition made in either house, a member shall not be questioned in any other place.
6-18. Time and place of assembly of Legislature.
The Legislature shall assemble annually at the seat of government, and not oftener unless convened by the governor. Regular sessions of the Legislature shall commence on the second Wednesday of January of each year. Upon the convening of the Legislature in each odd-numbered year, each house shall proceed to organize by the election of its officers for two-year terms and both houses shall then in joint assembly open and publish the election returns delivered to the Legislature as prescribed by other provisions of this constitution and by general law. When all of these matters have been completed in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-three and every fourth year thereafter, the Legislature shall adjourn until the second Wednesday of February following. Notwithstanding the provisions of section fifty-one of this article and any other provisions of this constitution, on and after the effective date hereof, there shall be submitted by the governor to the Legislature, on the second Wednesday of February in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-three and every fourth year thereafter, and on the second Wednesday of January of all other years, unless a later time in any year be fixed by the Legislature, a budget for the next ensuing fiscal year and a bill for the proposed appropriations of such budget.
6-19. Convening of Legislature by governor.
The governor may convene the Legislature by proclamation whenever, in his opinion, the public safety or welfare shall require it. It shall be his duty to convene it, on application in writing, of three fifths of the members elected to each house.
6-20. Seat of government.
The seat of government shall be at Charleston, until otherwise provided by law.
6-21. Provisions for assembling of Legislature other than at the seat of government.
The governor may convene the Legislature at another place, when, in his opinion, it can not safely assemble at the seat of government, and the Legislature may, when in session, adjourn to some other place, when in its opinion, the public safety or welfare, or the safety of the members, or their health, shall require it.
6-22. Length of legislative session.
The regular session of the Legislature held in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-three and every fourth year thereafter shall, in addition to the meeting days preceding the adjournment provided for in section eighteen of this article, not exceed sixty calendar days computed from and including the second Wednesday of February, and the regular session held in all other years shall not exceed sixty calendar days computed from and including the second Wednesday of January. Any regular session may be extended by a concurrent resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house determined by yeas and nays and entered on the journals.
6-23. Concerning adjournment.
Neither house shall, during the session, adjourn for more than three days, without the consent of the other. Nor shall either, without such consent, adjourn to any other place than that in which the Legislature is sitting.
6-24. Rules governing legislative proceedings.
A majority of the members elected to each house of the Legislature shall constitute a quorum. But a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and shall be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, as each house may provide. Each house shall determine the rules of its proceedings and be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members. The Senate shall choose, from its own body, a president; and the House of Delegates, from its own body, a speaker. Each house shall appoint its own officers, and remove them at pleasure. The oldest delegate in point of continuous service present at the assembly of the Legislature at which officers thereof are to be selected, and if there be two or more such delegates with equal continuous service the one agreed upon by such delegates or chosen by such delegates by lot, shall call the House to order, and preside over it until the speaker thereof shall have been chosen, and have taken his seat. The oldest member of the Senate in point of continuous service present at the assembly of the Legislature at which officers thereof are to be selected, and if there be two or more such members with equal continuous service the one agreed upon by such members or chosen by such members by lot, shall call the Senate to order, and preside over the same until a president of the Senate shall have been chosen, and have taken his seat.
6-25. Authority to punish members.
Each house may punish its own members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two thirds of the members elected thereto, expel a member, but not twice for the same offence.
6-26. Provisions for undisturbed transaction of business.
Each house shall have power to provide for its own safety, and the undisturbed transaction of its business, and may punish, by imprisonment, any person not a member, for disrespectful behavior in its presence; for obstructing any of its proceedings, or any of its officers in the discharge of his duties, or for any assault, threat or abuse of a member, for words spoken in debate. But such imprisonment shall not extend beyond the termination of the session, and shall not prevent the punishment of any offence, by the ordinary course of law.
6-27. Accounting for state moneys.
Laws shall be enacted and enforced, by suitable provisions and penalties, requiring sheriffs, and all other officers, whether state, county, district or municipal, who shall collect or receive, or whose official duty it is, or shall be, to collect, receive, hold or pay out any money belonging to, or which is, or shall be, for the use of the state or of any county, district, or municipal corporation, to make annual account and settlement therefor. Such settlement, when made, shall be subject to exceptions, and take such direction, and have only such force and effect, as may be provided by law; but in all cases such settlement shall be recorded, and be open to the examination of the people at such convenient place or places as may be appointed by law.
6-28. Origination of bills.
Bills and resolutions may originate in either house, but may be passed, amended or rejected by the other.
6-29. Requirement for reading of bills.
No bill shall become a law until it has been fully and distinctly read, on three different days, in each house, unless in case of urgency, by a vote of four fifths of the members present, taken by yeas and nays on each bill, this rule be dispensed with: Provided, in all cases, that an engrossed bill shall be fully and distinctly read in each house.
6-30. Acts to embrace but one object -- Time of effect.
No act hereafter passed shall embrace more than one object, and that shall be expressed in the title. But if any object shall be embraced in an act which is not so expressed, the act shall be void only as to so much thereof, as shall not be so expressed, and no law shall be revived, or amended, by reference to its title only; but the law revived, or the section amended, shall be inserted at large, in the new act. And no act of the Legislature, except such as may be passed at the first session under this constitution, shall take effect until the expiration of ninety days after its passage, unless the Legislature shall by a vote of two thirds of the members elected to each house, taken by yeas and nays, otherwise direct.
6-31. How bills may be amended.
When a bill or joint resolution, passed by one house, shall be amended by the other, the question on agreeing to the bill, or joint resolution, as amended, shall be again voted on, by yeas and nays, in the house by which it was originally passed, and the result entered upon its journals; in all such cases, the affirmative vote of a majority of all the members elected to such house shall be necessary.
6-32. "Majority" defined.
Whenever the words, "a majority of the members elected to either house of the Legislature," or words of like import, are used in this constitution, they shall be construed to mean a majority of the whole number of members to which each house is, at the time, entitled, under the apportionment of representation, established by the provisions of this constitution.
6-33. Compensation and expenses of members.
Members of the Legislature shall receive such compensation in connection with the performance of their respective duties as members of the Legislature and such allowances for travel and other expenses in connection therewith as shall be (1) established in a resolution submitted to the Legislature by the Citizens Legislative Compensation Commission hereinafter created, and (2) thereafter enacted into general law by the Legislature at a regular session thereof, subject to such requirements and conditions as shall be prescribed in such general law. The Legislature may in any such general law reduce but shall not increase any item of compensation or expense allowance established in such resolution. All voting on the floor of both houses on the question of passage of any such general law shall be by yeas and nays to be entered on the journals.
The Citizens Legislative Compensation Commission is hereby created. It shall be composed of seven members who have been residents of this state for at least ten years prior to the date of appointment, to be appointed by the governor within twenty days after ratification of this amendment, no more than four of whom shall be members of the same political party. The members shall be broadly representative of the public at large. Members of the Legislature and officers and employees of the state or of any county, municipality or other governmental unit of the state shall not be eligible for appointment to or to serve as members of the commission. Each member of the commission shall serve for a term of seven years, except of the members first appointed, one member shall be appointed for a term of one year, and one each for terms ending two, three, four, five, six and seven years after the date of appointment. As the term of each member first appointed expires, a successor shall be appointed for a seven-year term. Any member may be reappointed for any number of terms, and any vacancy shall be filled by the governor for the unexpired term. Any member of the commission may be removed by the governor prior to the expiration of such member's term for official misconduct, incompetency or neglect of duty. The governor shall designate one member of the commission as chairman. The members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but shall be entitled to be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred in the performance of their duties as such members.
The commission shall meet as often as may be necessary and shall within fifteen days after the beginning of the regular session of the Legislature in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-one and within fifteen days after the beginning of the regular session in each fourth year thereafter submit by resolution to the Legislature its determination of compensation and expense allowances, which resolution must be concurred in by at least four members of the commission.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this constitution, such compensation and expense allowances as may be provided for by any such general law shall be paid on and after the effective date of such general law. Until the first such general law becomes effective, the provisions of this section in effect immediately prior to the ratification of this amendment shall continue to govern.
6-34. Distribution of laws and journals provided for --Contracts for printing.
The Legislature shall provide by law that the fuel, stationery and printing paper, furnished for the use of the state; the copying, printing, binding and distributing the laws and journals; and all other printing ordered by the Legislature, shall be let by contract to the lowest responsible bidder, bidding under a maximum price to be fixed by the Legislature; and no member or officer thereof, or officer of the state, shall be interested, directly or indirectly, in such contract, but all such contracts shall be subject to the approval of the governor, and in case of his disapproval of any such contract, there shall be a reletting of the same in such manner as may be prescribed by law.
6-35. State not to be made defendant in any court.
The state of West Virginia shall never be made defendant in any court of law or equity, except the state of West Virginia, including any subdivision thereof, or any municipality therein, or any officer, agent, or employee thereof, may be made defendant in any garnishment or attachment proceeding, as garnishee or suggestee.
6-36. Lotteries; bingo; raffles; county option.
The Legislature shall have no power to authorize lotteries or gift enterprises for any purpose, and shall pass laws to prohibit the sale of lottery or gift enterprise tickets in this State; except that the Legislature may authorize lotteries which are regulated, controlled, owned and operated by the State of West Virginia in the manner provided by general law, either separately by this state or jointly or in cooperation with one or more other states and may authorize state-regulated bingo games and raffles for the purpose of raising money by charitable or public service organizations or by the State Fair of West Virginia for charitable or public service purposes: Provided, That each county may disapprove the holding of bingo games and raffles within that county at a regular, primary or special election but once having disapproved such activity, may thereafter authorize the holding of bingo games and raffles, by majority vote at a regular, primary or special election held not sooner than five years after the election resulting in disapproval; that all proceeds from the bingo games and raffles be used for the purpose of supporting charitable or public service purposes; and that the Legislature shall provide a means of regulating the bingo games and raffles so as to ensure that only charitable or public service purposes are served by the conducting of the bingo games and raffles.
6-37. Terms of office not to be extended after election.
No law shall be passed after the election of any public officer, which shall operate to extend the term of his office.
6-38. Salaries of officials cannot be increased during official terms.
No extra compensation shall be granted or allowed to any public officer, agent, servant or contractor, after the services shall have been rendered or the contract made; nor shall any Legislature authorize the payment of any claim or part thereof, hereafter created against the state, under any agreement or contract made, without express authority of law; and all such unauthorized agreements shall be null and void. Nor shall the salary of any public officer be increased or diminished during his term of office, nor shall any such officer, or his or their sureties be released from any debt or liability due to the state: Provided, the Legislature may make appropriations for expenditures hereafter incurred in suppressing insurrection, or repelling invasion.
6-39. Local laws not to be passed in enumerated cases.
The Legislature shall not pass local or special laws in any of the following enumerated cases; that is to say, for
Laying out, opening, altering and working roads or highways;
Vacating roads, town plats, streets, alleys and public grounds;
Locating, or changing county seats;
Regulating or changing county or district affairs;
Providing for the sale of church property, or property held for charitable uses;
Regulating the practice in courts of justice;
Incorporating cities, towns or villages, or amending the charter of any city, town or village, containing a population of less than two thousand;
Summoning or impaneling grand or petit juries;
The opening or conducting of any election, or designating the place of voting;
The sale and mortgage of real estate belonging to minors, or others under disability;
Chartering, licensing, or establishing ferries or toll bridges;
Remitting fines, penalties or forfeitures;
Changing the law of descent;
Regulating the rate of interest;
Authorizing deeds to be made for land sold for taxes;
Releasing title to forfeited lands.
The Legislature shall provide, by general laws, for the foregoing and all other cases for which provision can be so made; and in no case shall a special act be passed, where a general law would be proper, and can be made applicable to the case, nor in any other case in which the courts have jurisdiction, and are competent to give the relief asked for.
6-39a. Home rule for municipalities.
No local or special law shall hereafter be passed incorporating cities, towns or villages, or amending their charters. The Legislature shall provide by general laws for the incorporation and government of cities, towns and villages, and shall classify such municipal corporations, upon the basis of population, into not less than two nor more than five classes. Such general laws shall restrict the powers of such cities, towns and villages to borrow money and contract debts, and shall limit the rate of taxes for municipal purposes, in accordance with section one, article ten of the constitution of the state of West Virginia. Under such general laws, the electors of each municipal corporation, wherein the population exceeds two thousand, shall have power and authority to frame, adopt and amend the charter of such corporation, or to amend an existing charter thereof, and through its legally constituted authority, may pass all laws and ordinances relating to its municipal affairs: Provided, That any such charter or amendment thereto, and any such law or ordinance so adopted, shall be invalid and void if inconsistent or in conflict with this constitution or the general laws of the state then in effect, or thereafter from time to time enacted.
6-40. Limiting powers of court or judge.
The Legislature shall not confer upon any court, or judge, the power of appointment to office, further than the same is herein provided for.
6-41. Each house to keep journal of proceedings.
Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and cause the same to be published from time to time, and all bills and joint resolutions shall be described therein, as well by their title as their number, and the yeas and nays on any question, if called for by one tenth of those present shall be entered on the journal.
6-42. Appropriation bills to be specific.
Bills making appropriations for the pay of members and officers of the Legislature, and for salaries for the officers of the government, shall contain no provision on any other subject.
6-43. Board or court of registration of voters prohibited.
The Legislature shall never authorize or establish any board or court of registration of voters.
6-44. Election of legislative, county and municipal officers.
In all elections to office which may hereafter take place in the Legislature, or in any county, or municipal body, the vote shall be viva voce, and be entered on its journals.
6-45. Bribery and attempt to bribe -- Punishment.
It shall be the duty of the Legislature, at its first session after the adoption of this constitution, to provide, by law, for the punishment by imprisonment in the penitentiary, of any person who shall bribe, or attempt to bribe, any executive or judicial officer of this state, or any member of the Legislature in order to influence him, in the performance of any of his official or public duties; and also to provide by law for the punishment by imprisonment in the penitentiary of any of said officers, or any member of the Legislature, who shall demand, or receive, from any corporation, company or person, any money, testimonial, or other valuable thing, for the performance of his official or public duties, or for refusing or failing to perform the same, or for any vote or influence a member of the Legislature may give or withhold as such member; and also to provide by law for compelling any person, so bribing or attempting to bribe, or so demanding or receiving a bribe, fee, reward, or testimonial, to testify against any person or persons, who may have committed any of said offences: Provided, That any person so compelled to testify, shall be exempted from trial and punishment for the offence of which he may have been guilty, and concerning which he is compelled to testify; and any person convicted of any of the offences specified in this section, shall, as a part of the punishment thereof, be forever disqualified from holding any office or position of honor, trust, or profit in this state.
6-46. Manufacture and sale of liquor.
The Legislature shall by appropriate legislation regulate the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors within the limits of this state, and any law authorizing the sale of such liquors shall forbid and penalize the consumption and the sale thereof for consumption in a saloon or other public place.
6-47. Incorporation of religious denominations prohibited.
No charter of incorporation shall be granted to any church or religious denomination. Provisions may be made by general laws for securing the title to church property, and for the sale and transfer thereof, so that it shall be held, used, or transferred for the purposes of such church, or religious denomination.
6-48. Homestead exemption.
Any husband or parent, residing in this state, or the infant children of deceased parents, may hold a homestead of the value of five thousand dollars, and personal property to the value of one thousand dollars, exempt from forced sale, subject to such regulations as shall be prescribed by law: Provided, That such homestead exemption shall in nowise affect debts or liabilities existing at the time of the adoption of this constitution and the increases in such homestead exemption provided by this amendment shall in nowise affect debts or liabilities existing at the time of the ratification of such amendment: Provided, however, That no property shall be exempt from sale for taxes due thereon, or for the payment of purchase money due upon said property, or for debts contracted for the erection of improvements thereon.
6-49. Property of married woman.
The Legislature shall pass such laws as may be necessary to protect the property of married women from the debts, liabilities and control of their husbands.
6-50. Plan of proportional representation.
The Legislature may provide for submitting to a vote of the people at the general election to be held in 1876, or at any general election thereafter, a plan or scheme of proportional representation in the Senate of this state; and if a majority of the votes cast at such election be in favor of the plan submitted to them, the Legislature shall, at its session succeeding such election, rearrange the senatorial districts in accordance with the plan so approved by the people.
6-51. Budget and supplementary appropriation bills.
The Legislature shall not appropriate any money out of the treasury except in accordance with the provisions of this section.
Subsection A -- Appropriation Bills
(1) Every appropriation bill shall be either a budget bill, or a supplementary appropriation bill, as hereinafter provided.
Subsection B -- Budget Bills
(2) Within ten days after the convening of the regular session of the Legislature in odd-numbered years, unless such time shall be extended by the Legislature, and on the second Wednesday of January in even-numbered years, the governor shall submit to the Legislature a budget for the next ensuing fiscal year. The budget shall contain a complete plan of proposed expenditures and estimated revenues for the fiscal year and shall show the estimated surplus or deficit of revenues at the end of each fiscal year. Accompanying each budget shall be a statement showing: (a) An estimate of the revenues and expenditures for the current fiscal year, including the actual revenues and actual expenditures to the extent available, and the revenues and expenditures for the next preceding fiscal year; (b) the current assets, liabilities, reserves and surplus or deficit of the state; (c) the debts and funds of the state; (d) an estimate of the state's financial condition as of the beginning and end of the fiscal year covered by the budget; (e) any explanation the governor may desire to make as to the important features of the budget and any suggestions as to methods for reduction or increase of the state's revenue.
(3) Each budget shall embrace an itemized estimate of the appropriations, in such form and detail as the governor shall determine or as may be prescribed by law: (a) For the Legislature as certified to the governor in the manner hereinafter provided; (b) for the executive department; (c) for the judiciary department, as provided by law, certified to the governor by the auditor; (d) for payment and discharge of the principal and interest of any debt of the state created in conformity with the constitution, and all laws enacted in pursuance thereof; (e) for the salaries payable by the state under the constitution and laws of the state; (f) for such other purposes as are set forth in the constitution and in laws made in pursuance thereof.
(4) The governor shall deliver to the presiding officer of each house the budget and a bill for all the proposed appropriations of the budget clearly itemized and classified, in such form and detail as the governor shall determine or as may be prescribed by law; and the presiding officer of each house shall promptly cause the bill to be introduced therein, and such bill shall be known as the "Budget Bill." The governor may, with the consent of the Legislature, before final action thereon by the Legislature, amend or supplement the budget to correct an oversight, or to provide funds contingent on passage of pending legislation, and in case of an emergency, he may deliver such an amendment or supplement to the presiding officers of both houses; and the amendment or supplement shall thereby become a part of the budget bill as an addition to the items of the bill or as a modification of or a substitute for any item of the bill the amendment or supplement may affect.
(5) The Legislature shall not amend the budget bill so as to create a deficit but may amend the bill by increasing or decreasing any item therein: Provided, That no item relating to the judiciary shall be decreased, and except as otherwise provided in this constitution, the salary or compensation of any public officer shall not be increased or decreased during his term of office: Provided further, That the Legislature shall not increase the estimate of revenue submitted in the budget without the approval of the governor.
(6) The governor and such representatives of the executive departments, boards, officers and commissions of the state expending or applying for state moneys as have been designated by the governor for this purpose, shall have the right, and when requested by either house of the Legislature it shall be their duty, to appear and be heard with respect to any budget bill, and to answer inquiries relative thereto.
Subsection C -- Supplementary Appropriation Bills
(7) Neither house shall consider other appropriations until the budget bill has been finally acted upon by both houses, and no such other appropriations shall be valid except in accordance with the provisions following: (a) Every such appropriation shall be embodied in a separate bill limited to some single work, object or purpose therein stated and called therein a supplementary appropriation bill; (b) each supplementary appropriation bill shall provide the revenue necessary to pay the appropriation thereby made by a tax, direct or indirect, to be laid and collected as shall be directed in the bill unless it appears from such budget that there is sufficient revenue available.
Subsection D -- General Provisions
(8) If the budget bill shall not have been finally acted upon by the Legislature three days before the expiration of its regular session, the governor shall issue a proclamation extending the session for such further period as may, in his judgment, be necessary for the passage of the bill; but no matter other than the bill shall be considered during such an extension of a session except a provision for the cost thereof.
(9) For the purpose of making up the budget, the governor shall have the power, and it shall be his duty, to require from the proper state officials, including herein all executive departments, all executive and administrative officers, bureaus, boards, commissions and agencies expending or supervising the expenditure of, and all institutions applying for state moneys and appropriations, such itemized estimates and other information, in such form and at such times as he shall direct. The estimates for the legislative department, certified by the presiding officer of each house, and for the judiciary, as provided by law, certified by the auditor, shall be transmitted to the governor in such form and at such times as he shall direct, and shall be included in the budget.
(10) The governor may provide for public hearings on all estimates and may require the attendance at such hearings of representatives of all agencies and all institutions applying for state moneys. After such public hearings he may, in his discretion, revise all estimates except those for the legislative and judiciary departments.
(11) Every budget bill or supplementary appropriation bill passed by a majority of the members elected to each house of the Legislature shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor. The governor may veto the bill, or he may disapprove or reduce items or parts of items contained therein. If he approves he shall sign it and thereupon it shall become a law. The bill, items or parts thereof, disapproved or reduced by the governor, shall be returned with his objections to each house of the Legislature.
Each house shall enter the objections at large upon its journal and proceed to reconsider. If, after reconsideration, two thirds of the members elected to each house agree to pass the bill, or such items or parts thereof, as were disapproved or reduced, the bill, items or parts thereof, approved by two thirds of such members, shall become law, notwithstanding the objections of the governor. In all such cases, the vote of each house shall be determined by yeas and nays to be entered on the journal.
A bill, item or part thereof, which is not returned by the governor within five days (Sundays excepted) after the bill has been presented to him shall become a law in like manner as if he had signed the bill, unless the Legislature, by adjournment, prevents such return, in which case it shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state, within five days after such adjournment, and shall become a law; or it shall be so filed within such five days with the objections of the governor, in which case it shall become law to the extent not disapproved by the governor.
(12) The Legislature may, from time to time, enact such laws, not inconsistent with this section, as may be necessary and proper to carry out its provisions.
(13) In the event of any inconsistency between any of the provisions of this section and any of the other provisions of the constitution, the provisions of this section shall prevail. But nothing herein shall be construed as preventing the governor from calling extraordinary sessions of the Legislature, as provided by section nineteen of this article, or as preventing the Legislature at such extraordinary sessions from considering any emergency appropriation or appropriations.
(14) If any item of any appropriation bill passed under the provisions of this section shall be held invalid upon any ground, such invalidity shall not affect the legality of the bill or of any other item of such bill or bills.
6-52. Revenues applicable to roads.
Revenue from gasoline and other motor fuel excise and license taxation, motor vehicle registration and license taxes, and all other revenue derived from motor vehicles or motor fuels shall, after the deduction of statutory refunds and cost of administration and collection authorized by legislative appropriation, be appropriated and used solely for construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of public highways, and also the payment of the interest and principal on all road bonds heretofore issued or which may be hereafter issued for the construction, reconstruction or improvement of public highways, and the payment of obligations incurred in the construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of public highways.
6-53. Forestry amendment.
The Legislature may by general law define and classify forest lands and provide for cooperation by contract between the state and the owner in the planting, cultivation, protection, and harvesting thereof. Forest lands embraced in any such contract may be exempted from all taxation or be taxed in such manner, including the imposition of a severance tax or charge as trees are harvested, as the Legislature may from time to time provide. But any tax measured by valuation shall not exceed the aggregate rates authorized by section one of article ten of this constitution.
6-54. Continuity of government amendment.
The Legislature of West Virginia, in order to i