By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
8:54 PM EST, February 20, 2012
The state Senate on Monday, on a 29-2 vote, passed a bill that could force a Berkeley County Council member to abandon her bid for re-election this year because of a felony conviction.
Any person convicted of treason, bribery, perjury or any felony that is punishable by incarceration for more than a year would be disqualified from being elected to any public office in the state, according to Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 518.
County Council member Elaine C. Mauck, who was elected to a two-year term in 2010, was convicted in federal court of one felony count of failure to properly dispose of asbestos in 2002, according to court documents. Mauck faced up to five years in prison for the felony conviction, but instead was placed on unsupervised home confinement for six months as part of three years of probation in 2004, according to court documents.
Voting against the measure Monday were Sens. David C. Nohe, R-Wood, and Gregory A. Tucker, D-Nicholas.
After Monday’s Senate vote, the bill was ordered to the House of Delegates, which must vote on it before midnight March 10, the end of the Legislature’s 60-day regular session, before it can become law.
West Virginia had a 1931 law on the books banning felons from holding public office. But the state Supreme Court gutted it two years later, saying the language was unclear, according to published reports.
Among other legislative action affecting the Eastern Panhandle:
• The state Senate last week voted 33-0 to require nonprofit equine rescue facilities to obtain licenses from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
Now pending in the House Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 75 also provides for inspections of such facilities twice annually and proposes “standards of care for equine rescue facilities’ animals and properties” by the state Agriculture Commissioner, according to the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson.
The legislation was prompted at least in part by the seizure of more than 50 horses two years ago from Hidden Meadows Equine Rescue in Berkeley County, Unger said.
Unger originally sponsored the bill last year, but it died in the House.
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