CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia voters would be asked to end term limits for county sheriffs and allow simple majorities to approve local bonds and levies, under proposed constitutional amendments that cleared the state Senate on Friday.
The House Judiciary Committee also has endorsed a version of the levy majority resolution, one of several this session that would end up on the 2012 statewide ballot if they prevail.
The state constitution now limits sheriffs to two consecutive terms. Repeal advocates argue that civil service protections for deputies and state law governing tax proceeds resolve two areas that had prompted the anti-corruption measure.
The simple-majority resolution would apply to levy and bond measures by counties, school boards and local governments. The constitution now requires a 60 percent threshold.
Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, attempted without success to have the sheriff resolution placed on this year's special-election ballot. He cited how sheriffs' offices around the state will be up for election this year, and several incumbents will be otherwise term-limited.
The amendment failed after Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, argued that a 1973 attorney general's opinion concluded that the constitution would not allow lawmakers to add this question to the Oct. 4 special general election for governor.
For either resolution to reach the 2012 ballot, at least two-thirds of the House must approve. The question must then prevail among statewide voters by a simple majority.