Chapter 5. General Powers And Authority Of The Governor, Secretary Of State And Attorney General; Board Of Public Works; Miscellaneous Agencies, Commissions, Offices, Programs, Etc

Published: 2015

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WVC 5-


WVC -20-


WVC 5-20-1

§5-20-1. Legislative findings, purposes and intent.

The Legislature hereby finds and declares:

(a) That on the twenty-seventh day of April, one thousand nine

hundred seventy-eight, at Willow Island, in Pleasants County, West

Virginia, a cooling tower then under construction collapsed,

resulting in the loss of a great many lives;

(b) That every effort should be made to prevent the repetition

of any similar tragic occurrence or incident in the future and,

toward that end, it is proper and desirable that a complete,

detailed and thorough investigation into the reasons for and causes

of the collapse of such cooling tower be made; which investigation

should be independent of and free from any litigation which has

been or may be instituted with respect to such collapse;

(c) That toward this end, the governor, by executive order No.

15-78, dated the sixth day of October, one thousand nine hundred

seventy-eight, created and established the governor's commission on

Willow Island, comprised of nine members, consisting of and

generally representative of the public and of various interests,

bodies, groups and organizations as specified in subsection (b) of

this section;

(d) That in furtherance of the intent and purposes of the

aforesaid executive order it is the intent of the Legislature to

continue the governor's commission on Willow Island and to expand

upon its powers, duties and responsibilities in order to facilitate

its investigative purposes and assure the orderly execution of its functions and duties;

(e) That it recognizes that the provisions of section 1,

article V of the constitution of West Virginia prohibit any person

from exercising the powers of more than one branch or department of

government at the same time; however, it is the express purpose,

intent and finding of the Legislature that those members of the

commission who are members of the Legislature are acting as members

of the Legislature while serving on the commission and in the

furtherance of the Legislature's inherent right and power to

investigate and inquire into and report on those matters which are

legitimately within its powers, and that since the commission's

role and duties are investigative and reportive in nature, the

service upon the commission by its legislative members and the

service of its chairman are not violative of nor inimical to the

constitutional mandate with respect to the separation of

governmental powers.

WVC 5-20-2

§5-20-2. Governor's commission on Willow Island continued;

composition; appointment of members.

The governor's commission on Willow Island, hereinafter

denominated "commission," heretofore created and existing under the

authority of an executive order dated the sixth day of October, one

thousand nine hundred seventy-eight, is hereby continued. The

commission shall continue to consist of nine members appointed by

the governor as follows: One shall be the commissioner of labor,

who shall serve as chairman of the commission; two shall be members

of the West Virginia Legislature, one from the Senate and one from

the House of Delegates; two shall be representatives of and shall

be nominated by an organization composed of and representing the

interests of the surviving members of the families of those persons

killed at the Willow Island cooling tower collapse; two shall be

representatives of organized labor; one shall be representative of

the business community; and one shall be representative of the

general public. Those persons previously appointed who are members

of the commission upon the effective date of this article shall

continue as members of the commission and shall remain members of

the commission until their resignation, death or removal by the

governor, in which case or event the governor shall appoint a new

member from or representative of the same group or interests as the

former member.

WVC 5-20-3

§5-20-3. Powers of the commission.

The commission has the power, duty and responsibility:

(a) To conduct a comprehensive and detailed investigation into

the collapse of the cooling tower at Willow Island, to evaluate the

facts and circumstances surrounding such collapse and, if possible,

to determine the cause or causes of such collapse;

(b) To analyze and evaluate the findings and reports of the

occupational health and safety administration with respect to the

collapse of the cooling tower at Willow Island and to report to the

governor and the Legislature with respect thereto;

(c) To administer oaths, to examine witnesses, to compel the

attendance of witnesses to appear before the commission and to

compel the production of such books, records, documents or other

papers or tangible things as the commission may require to conduct

its investigation, and to this end the commission is hereby given

authority to issue subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum. Any

subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued on behalf of the commission

shall be over the signature of the chairman. If any person

subpoenaed to appear before the commission or before any committee

or subcommittee thereof refuses to appear or to answer inquiries

propounded to such person, or fails or refuses to produce any book,

record, document or other paper or tangible thing within his

control when the same are demanded, the commission or its chairman

shall report the fact of such failure or refusal to the circuit

court of Kanawha County or any other court of competent jurisdiction and such court shall compel obedience to the subpoena

or subpoena duces tecum as though the subpoena or subpoena duces

tecum had been issued by such court in the first instance;

(d) To employ such legal, technical, investigative, clerical,

stenographic, advisory and other personnel as it deems necessary

and needful and to fix the reasonable compensation of such persons

as may be so employed;

(e) To perform every other act necessary or desirable to carry

out any of the other powers, duties or responsibilities enumerated

in this section.

WVC 5-20-4

§5-20-4. Compensation and expenses of members; expenses of the


Except for those members of the commission who are members of

the Legislature, the members of the commission shall be reimbursed

for all of their reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses

incurred in connection with carrying out their duties as members of

the commission, which expenses shall be paid in the manner and form

prescribed by law or by any rule or regulation and which expenses

shall be paid from the governor's civil contingency fund upon

approval of the governor. Members of the commission who are also

members of the Legislature shall be reimbursed for any such

expenses from the appropriation under "Account No. 103 for Joint

Expenses," upon approval of the joint committee on government and


Other expenses of the commission, including any fees,

salaries, wages and other expenses, shall be paid from the

appropriations made to the governor's civil contingency fund, upon

approval of the governor.

Members of the commission may receive no other compensation

for their services on or with the commission.

WVC 5-20-5

§5-20-5. Executive sessions authorized; demand to be heard in open


Notwithstanding any provisions of article nine-a, chapter six

of the code to the contrary, the commission shall have the power

and authority to hold executive sessions for the purpose of

establishing policy or an agenda and for the purpose of

interrogating any witness or witnesses. If a witness desires to

testify or be interrogated in a public or open hearing, such

witness shall have the right to demand the same and shall not be

heard otherwise. Conversely, if a witness desires to testify or be

heard in executive session, he shall notify the commission of his

desire and shall assign reasons therefor and the commission may,

after consideration of the reasons assigned for such request, grant

the same. If such request is refused, such refusal shall not

constitute grounds for the refusal to testify. The commission may

permit members of the staff of the commission to attend and be

present during any executive session of the commission, whether for

the taking of evidence or otherwise.

WVC 5-20-6

§5-20-6. Immunity granted to commission members.

No member of the commission may be held liable, either civilly

or criminally, for delivering an opinion, uttering a speech, or for

statements made in debate during any meeting of the commission or

of any committee or subcommittee thereof, nor for the contents of

any report, document or other writing prepared by the commission or

by any committee or subcommittee thereof, nor shall any member be

subpoenaed to testify or questioned before or by any other tribunal

or court with respect to any such opinion, utterance, speech,

statement or report or as to any finding or findings of the


WVC 5-20-7

§5-20-7. Privilege granted to commission findings, reports and


None of the findings, reports, testimony, statements or other

evidence of whatsoever nature adduced by, belonging to or made by

the commission may be used as evidence in any court or other

tribunal for any purpose whatsoever, nor shall the same be subject

to any subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued by any court or

other tribunal.

WVC 5-20-8

§5-20-8. Reports of the commission; termination of commission.

The commission shall submit any report or reports as to its

findings and conclusions, along with any recommendations which it

deems appropriate, to the Legislature and the governor on or before

July one, one thousand nine hundred eighty, after which date it

shall cease its existence.

WVC 5-20-9

§5-20-9. Interpretation of section.

The provisions of this article shall be in addition to and not

in derogation of the purposes of the commission as set forth in the

aforesaid executive order No. 15-78, and none of the provisions of

this section may be construed so as to limit the primary purpose of

the commission as set forth in said executive order.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session

The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.