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WV Senate passes bill to let Senate president, House speaker control legislative auditor

By Mike Tony, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Senate has approved a bill that would give its president and the House of Delegates speaker control over a critical state position charged with auditing the state budget and government spending units, reporting misapplication of state funds and making recommendations on their findings.

Under Senate Bill 687 as approved by the Republican-supermajority Senate in a 20-14 vote Monday, the the Senate president and House speaker would direct that position, the state legislative auditor, to exercise those duties.

The position is currently solely responsible to the Legislature.

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, voted for the bill.

Too much power over agency evaluations?

SB 687 has sparked concern the Senate president and House speaker would have too much power over performance evaluations of agencies, with the position tasked with highlighting failures to meet legislative mandates having to rely on their approval.

The legislative auditor could not use outside auditing firms to conduct examinations and audits except as directed by the Senate president or House speaker, whose direction would be required to review an agency.

Agency reviews would have to come at the direction of the president or speaker.

SB 687 would eliminate a provision that the legislative auditor is to make post audits of the revenues and expenses of state government spending units at least once every two years if practicable.

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