- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia lawmakers would have to promptly report fundraising events held while the Legislature is in session under a bill approved by the House of Delegates.

The bill approved 98-0 on Monday would require disclosing all campaign donors and amounts within five business days of an event.

“Citizens have a right to know who is giving money to lawmakers during the legislative session, when important decisions are being made,” said Delegate Jill Upson, a Jefferson County Republican and lead sponsor of the bill.

Another ethics measure on the House agenda for the two-month session would prohibit public officials or employees from favoring relatives or people they live with in awarding or influencing jobs or working conditions.

Other bills would bar city council members or mayors from also working as city employees and require businesses bidding on government contracts to disclose lists of their companies’ interested parties.

The House also voted 95-3 on Monday to pass legislation to raise most fines for littering or dumping.

Delegate Rupert Phillips, lead sponsor, said it makes no sense to throw trash out your car window, especially in a state with pretty rivers, lakes and mountains where most businesses have receptacles and even large items can be put out for regular collection.

The criminal misdemeanor would impose tougher sentences — as much as 100 hours of community service collecting trash. That’s up from 16 hours currently. The minimum fine would remain $100 for tossing up to 100 pounds of refuse. The possible maximum fine for tossing up to 100 pounds of litter on public property or anyone else’s private property would rise from $1,000 to $2,500.

The bill mandates $10,000 in fines for dumping more than 500 pounds of refuse.

“We’ve got to make sure that magistrates don’t drop the charges,” Phillips said.

Both bills now go to the Senate.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Tuesday he believes transparency is best in campaign reporting and he’s pleased the House took the lead “on this critical measure.”

On littering, Carmichael said the state “is blessed with tremendous natural beauty, and I believe we should all take it upon ourselves to treat it right, and throw our trash away responsibly. Those people who do not do that should pay the penalty.”

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