Charleston, WV - The West Virginia Legislature has been hard at work getting the comprehensive Acts of the Legislature online and free of charge. For years, the only way to access these documents has been through the printed historical volumes.
The Acts of the Legislature is the only official compilation of the bills and resolutions passed by both the House of Delegates and the Senate each session that have subsequently become law. Although many individuals, including lawyers, treat Michie’s and West’s versions of the Code of West Virginia as the official Code, they are not official compilations of West Virginia’s laws.
Thus, searchable public internet access to the Acts of Legislature is significant. As the Legislature’s record keeper, the Clerk of the House of Delegates is charged with preparing, organizing, and distributing this publication following each legislative session. The Clerk of the House of Delegates, in conjunction with staff of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, has worked diligently over the course of this past spring and summer preparing the documents, painstakingly reproducing them from the actual bound publications.
Currently, the Acts of the Legislature from 1908 to present are available on the legislative website. The Legislature is proud to be able to make this information more easily accessible and continues to identify hard to access public books and documents to make available to the public.
It is also important to note that, while the Acts of the Legislature is the official compilation of the bills and resolutions passed during legislative session, the West Virginia Supreme Court has held that the enrolled bills control in an instance where there is a difference between an enrolled bill and what is printed in the Acts.
“The printed acts of the Legislature are presumed to be valid enactments. Where, however, there is a variance between a printed act and the enrolled bill, the enrolled bill controls. The strongest presumption, however, is in favor of a bill which has been duly enrolled and bears thereon evidence of the executive’s action in regard to it.” Syl. Pt. 1, Charleston National Bank v. Fox, 119 W. Va. 438 (1937).
The Legislature is also preparing to make electronic versions of the historical enrolled bills available on the website in the near future. In the meantime, if you need access to enrolled bills you can contact the respective Clerk’s office to obtain those documents.