Resolution to limit W.Va. constitutional officers to three terms hits the rocks

A resolution that could have led to term limits for West Virginia constitutional officers appears to be in legislative purgatory.

With time drawing short on Day 60 of the 60-day legislative session, it’s seeming less likely the resolution would pass. The House of Delegates has had the Constitutional Term Limit Amendment on its inactive calendar.

If approved, Senate Joint Resolution 11 could result in limiting the terms of the Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, Agriculture and Attorney General to no more than three consecutive terms. The governor is already limited to two consecutive terms.

West Virginia’s constitutional officers expressed support for the change during a press conference or in statements.

Because it’s a constitutional amendment, voters have to approve the change.

But first the resolution had to pass both chambers of the Legislature by a two-thirds majority vote. Senators voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution two weeks ago.

The resolution passed through the House Judiciary Committee before stalling out before the full House this week. It was placed on the “House Calendar,” which is the inactive calendar, on Friday.

Joey Garcia

Delegate Joey Garcia, D-Marion, made a motion on the House floor today to move the resolution back to the Special Calendar, which is the one that reflects the day’s voting agenda.

“I challenge you to take this up today,” Garcia said.

The majority of delegates voted to table his motion.

Garcia noted that the clock wouldn’t have started on term limits until 2025. In Judiciary Committee, Garcia recalled, he asked newly-elected Treasurer Riley Moore if he would object to altering the timetable.

“I said ‘If you get rid of this grandfather clause, do you think this would make the resolution better?” Garcia said.

“So, that passed down to the floor. And it now sits on the House calendar. Why would that be?”

He continued, “So apparently there’s a member of the board of public works who made a campaign promise that he would only serve two terms. Yet he’s currently serving his third. It’s my understanding that he didn’t like my amendment too much.”

Patrick Morrisey

The delegate appeared to be making reference to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is serving his third term.

The Attorney General’s Office was invited by email to comment for this story.

Morrisey did not appear last month at a press conference by constitutional officers to express support for the resolution, but he did provide a statement of support.

“I’m happy to support the resolution to establish term limits for the Board of Public Works,” Morrisey said in a news release last month. “I have pushed for a similar resolution in the past and believe it will restore more power back to the people.”

Riley Moore

Treasurer Moore, who proposed the term limit resolution, spoke at the press conference in favor of it.

“We come here as a collective group to say we are tired of the policies of the past of having individuals sit in these offices for decades upon decades,” Moore said that day. “We think this is the best way forward in terms of governance, transparency and accountability.”

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