Randy Yohe Published

House Resolutions Focus On Term Limits, People Power

Hand puts paper ballot into voting boxEUDPic/Adobe Stock

Two resolutions, presented and failed in the past, were once again introduced in the House Tuesday. The first would directly affect the state’s elected constitutional officers; the other gives powers usually reserved for the legislature – to the people.  

House Joint Resolution 15 (HRJ15) would amend the state constitution to prevent any person from serving in the office of Secretary of State, State Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture, Attorney General or State Treasurer for more than three consecutive terms beginning after January 1, 2025.  

Currently, there is no term limit on these offices. The resolution sponsor, Del. Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, said with our changing political and social landscape, this is a proposal that needs to finally become law.

“I think it’s smart to get new blood in there, somebody that can take a new look at it.” Foster said. “Back when it was originally introduced, we’d had constitutional officers in there for 20 years or more.” 

House Joint Resolution 14 (HRJ14) would amend the state Constitution to give the people the powers of initiative, referendum, and recall. Del. Chuck Horst, R-Berkeley, is sponsoring the returning resolution. Horst said, as with term limits, this resolution’s time has come to increase the political decision-making strength of the people of West Virginia.

“It is to allow the people a bit more power,” Horst said. “They can recall an elected official if the elected official is not acting appropriately for what the people expected. And we’d give them the power that by referendum, they could collect enough signatures and get a particular issue put on the ballot for the people to decide if the legislature doesn’t seem to want to address.”

An example of a people’s initiative would be the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis. This is an issue that Democrats on both the House and Senate side are pushing hard for this year. Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, has come out and said that maybe this is something that’s time has come in the next year or two or three.  Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said Monday that recreational cannabis passage would be “very unlikely.” Therefore, an initiative would work.

Horst said the people’s decision on recreational cannabis was likely a rejection for now, but a people’s initiative might shift the odds.

“I don’t expect that a recreational cannabis bill would go through the legislature right now in the current climate” Horst said “There’s probably some areas of the state that have quite a few people that would want to see that. If there were enough people, they could collect the signatures, and they could get an issue like that put on the ballot for the people to decide instead of the legislature doing it.”

Both resolutions now head to the House Judiciary Committee, where there would be an option to draft a bill.