CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Public officials and candidates would have to reveal more details about their finances under a bill passed unanimously by the House of Delegates Wednesday.
The measure (HB2464), which now heads to the Senate, also would make lawmakers and high-ranking state officials wait a year to become lobbyists after leaving public office.
Under the proposal, public officials and candidates would have to fill out more detailed financial disclosure statements.
For instance, they would have to describe their job duties and say whether they or their spouses serve on any business's board of directors.
They also would have to disclose their spouses' financial interests, and name dependents who are older than 18.
Under the bill, the Ethics Commission would publish the names -- either in print or online -- of those who miss deadlines for filing disclosure statements.
Beginning in 2012, the Ethics Commission also would have to post online disclosure statements of legislators, statewide elected officials, and state Supreme Court justices, as well as candidates for those offices. The commission would have to post disclosure forms of all other officials "as resources are available."
People can request these records from the Ethics Commission now, but online postings will make it easier, said House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison.
"This just provides greater ease of transparency and access," Miley said.
Delegates unanimously passed a similar bill last year, but the Senate Finance Committee killed the idea.
With new Senate leadership under acting President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, the measure has a better chance this year.
The Ethics Commission asked legislators to consider tougher rules after the Center for Public Integrity, a national watchdog organization, gave West Virginia an "F" for its disclosure laws in 2009.
Reach Alison Knezevich at alis...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.