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Bills Take Differing Approaches to Statutes Regarding Removal of Officers

HB 1149 (Cordoza) would make a significant change to the process of removing an elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office.  Under current law, the removal process for most elected officials begins with a petition to a circuit court signed by registered voters within the jurisdiction equating to ten percent of the total number of votes cast at the last election for the office that the officer holds.  HB 1149 would create an alternative process that would allow the Governor, instead of the voters, to petition the court.  VACo opposes the measure, as it would substitute one person’s judgment for the will of a subset of the voters in a jurisdiction in initiating the removal process.

HB 265 (Simon) makes a set of narrower amendments to the removal statutes.  The bill, which has been reported from House Privileges and Elections and is headed to the House floor, contains the following provisions:

  • Requires that all signatures for the petition of registered voters to the circuit court that starts the removal process to be collected within 90 days.
  • Provides that a petition for removal is not sufficient if the grounds or reasons stated for removal have been the basis for a previously-filed petition that was dismissed, or did not result in the officer’s removal at trial.
  • Stipulates that if the local Commonwealth’s Attorney has a conflict of interest or is otherwise unavailable, the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth would appoint an alternate attorney to receive a copy of the petition and to represent the Commonwealth in proceedings.
  • Prohibits discovery for removal proceedings.

VACo Contact: Katie Boyle

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