(a) Producers may petition the Commissioner to conduct a referendum of West Virginia producers authorizing the levying of an assessment for the purposes set forth in this article: Provided, That no referendum may be held until the provisions of 7 U.S.C. §2901 et seq., the federal beef research and information program, have terminated.
(b) The Commissioner, when petitioned by no less than fifty producers, must hold a public hearing no more than forty-five days after receipt of the petition to decide whether a referendum should be held to establish an assessment on the sale of beef and dairy cattle, the amount of the assessment and the duration of the assessment. The Commissioner shall give no less than fifteen days notice of the public hearing including the date, time and place of the public hearing. If a majority of those present vote in favor of holding the referendum, including the amount and duration of the proposed assessment, the Commissioner shall notify the Council to schedule and hold a referendum on the proposed assessment.