Making the right call
Sen. Ryan Weld is absolutely right that West Virginia needs to get into the business of good governance. A measure the Republican from Brooke County is sponsoring to limit the number of terms the state’s constitutional officers can hold office — Senate Joint Resolution 11 — is a solid step in that direction.
The constitutional offices — secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general and agriculture — currently have no limits on the number of terms an elected representative can serve. This has led to decades-long bureaucratic tenures for some of those holding these offices.
Weld seeks to change that. The joint resolution calls for a constitutional officeholder to serve no more than three consecutive terms — 12 years. It also would apply retroactively to those constitutional officers currently in office — Treasurer Riley Moore (first term), Auditor J.B. McCuskey, Secretary of State Mac Warner, Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt (all in their second term) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (in his third term). That means, if approved, Morrisey would be in his final term as attorney general.
All five have given their support to the measure.
“This will be a tremendous opportunity for us to finally restrain executive power,” Moore said. “We’ve 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. We think this is the best way forward in terms of governance and transparency and accountability here in … West Virginia.”
It’s not as if term limits already aren’t in place in West Virginia. Governors are limited to two terms, and the state also limits county sheriffs to two terms. But other constitutional officers in the executive branch are not term-limited.
Now the heavy lifting begins. First, the resolution must be adopted by two-thirds vote of both the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and then approved by voters in a special election in 2022. If it passes all those barriers, it would take effect for the 2024 election cycle.
Weld continues to show principled leadership during his tenure in the Senate. This resolution is another step toward good governance in the state.